Wild­cats hit free throws to hold off Crim­son Tide


De’Aaron Fox scored a ca­reer­high 28 points, in­clud­ing seven straight down the stretch, and Ma­lik Monk added 20 to lift No. 8 Ken­tucky past Alabama, 79-74, in a South­east­ern Con­fer­ence tour­na­ment semi­fi­nal Satur­day in Nashville.

The Wild­cats shot 52 per­cent from the floor and 69 per­cent from the line after miss­ing nu­mer­ous chances that left open­ings for the pesky Crim­son Tide to stay close. But Ken­tucky con­verted chances when needed, hit­ting 13 of 17 free throws in the fi­nal six min­utes, with Fox mak­ing 5 of 7 in par­tic­u­lar and 11 of 15 over­all.

Bam Ade­bayo had 10 points and nine re­bounds to send topseeded Ken­tucky (28-5) to Sun­day’s cham­pi­onship game against Arkansas.

Da­zon In­gram had 17 points for fifth-seeded Alabama (19-14), which out­re­bounded Ken­tucky 33-28 but couldn’t get the bas­ket when needed to over­come the Wild­cats.

ARKANSAS 76, VAN­DER­BILT 62: Moses Kings­ley had 12 points and 13 re­bounds as the Ra­zor­backs beat the Com­modores in the SEC semi­fi­nals.

The Ra­zor­backs (25-8) won their third straight to reach the cham­pi­onship for the sev­enth time. Jaylen Bar­ford led Arkansas with 18 points. Dusty Han­nahs added 16 and Daryl Ma­con 15.

Play­ing a third game in as many days took its toll on sev­enth-seeded Van­der­bilt (19-15). The Com­modores saw a three­game win­ning streak end after they reached the semi­fi­nals for the first time since 2013.

Arkansas, outscored only three times in the sec­ond half all sea­son, wound up lead­ing by 27.

SMU 70, CEN­TRAL FLORIDA 59: Ster­ling Brown scored 22 points, and the No. 12 Mus­tangs beat the Knights in the semi­fi­nals of the Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence tour­na­ment in Hart­ford, Conn.

Semi Ojel­eye added 17 points, and Shake Mil­ton had 14 of his 16 points in the sec­ond half for the Mus­tangs (29-4). They are back in the cham­pi­onship game after miss­ing last year’s tour­na­ment be­cause of NCAA sanc­tions. The Mus­tangs, who won the ti­tle in 2015, will meet Cincin­nati.

SMU has won 15 straight games and 25 of its past 26 after a 4-3 start to their sea­son.

B.J. Tay­lor had 20 points and Nick Ban­yard 16 for the Knights (21-11). They had won six in a row.

CINCIN­NATI 81, CON­NECTI­CUT 71: Gary Clark scored 24 points to lead the No. 15 Bearcats over the Huskies in the AAC semi­fi­nals.

Ja­cob Evans added 21 points and Troy Cau­pain had 19 for the Bearcats (29-4), who will be seek­ing their first AAC ti­tle.

Jalen Adams scored 20 points and Chris­tian Vi­tal had 19 for U-Conn., which fin­ishes its sea­son 16-17, its first los­ing cam­paign in 30 years.

VCU de­feats Rich­mond

JeQuan Lewis scored 18 points, in­clud­ing a three-pointer with 25 sec­onds left in reg­u­la­tion to force over­time, and VCU got an 87-77 win over Rich­mond in the At­lantic 10 tour­na­ment to ad­vance to the cham­pi­onship game in Pitts­burgh.

The No. 2 seed Rams will play fourth-seeded Rhode Is­land on Sun­day.

In the over­time pe­riod, VCU (21-7) quickly took con­trol, scor­ing the first six points dur­ing an 11-2 run for an 82-73 lead with 1:25 left. Mo Alie-Cox had five points in the break­away run, and Samir Doughty had four.

Doughty fin­ished with 17 points, Alie-Cox had 15, and Justin Till­man got 11 points to go with 14 re­bounds for the Rams, who are play­ing for a con­fer­ence ti­tle for the sev­enth straight year.

Rich­mond (20-12) got a ca­reer­high 26 points from De’Monte Buck­ing­ham.

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