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Saturday, March 12, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Kentucky 72, Alabama 58

By Mark Schlabach

ATLANTA -- Despite another day of sub-shooting performances by freshman stars Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones, Kentucky is headed back to another SEC tournament championship game.

With the Wildcats’ veterans and supporting cast provided much of the production, UK blasted SEC West champion Alabama 72-58 in the SEC tourney semifinals at the Georgia Dome on Saturday.

Kentucky advances to the SEC tournament championship game on Sunday.

Turning point: When the teams took the floor. Kentucky avenged its 68-66 loss at Tuscaloosa on Jan. 18 and led this one from wire to wire. After leading by 14 points at the half, UK led by as many as 26 late in the second half.

Key players: Senior center Josh Harrellson continues to play well for UK, scoring 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting with 10 rebounds. Freshman Doron Lamb scored 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting, and reserve DeAndre Liggins had 14 points and shot 3-for-3 on 3-pointers.

Key stat: 50 percent: Kentucky made 27 of its 54 shots from the floor, after shooting only 37.7 percent in the first meeting against the Crimson Tide.

Miscellaneous: Liggins and Lamb both left the game in the final minutes with apparent ankle injuries. Liggins ran off the floor with a noticeable limp; Lamb was helped off the floor by trainers.

What’s next: Kentucky will play the winner of Saturday’s semifinals game between Florida and Vanderbilt in Sunday’s championship game. Alabama, which has a 21-11 record, figures to have anxious 27 hours or so as it waits to learn its postseason fate. The Crimson Tide went 12-4 vs. SEC foes this season, but their unsightly computer profile leaves them sitting on the NCAA at-large bubble.