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College Basketball tournament roundup: Florida beats Arkansas

Associated Press
The national roundup …
GAINESVILLE, Fla. ó Walter Hodge scored 16 points, Dan Werner added 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Florida (23-9) beat Arkansas 73-58 on Thursday night in the first round of the SEC tournament.
Nick Calathes finished with 11 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Gators, who defeated Arkansas for the fifth time in the last six meetings ó and like many teams in the league ó improved their chances of making the NCAA tournament.
Florida will now face Auburn in a game many believe will amount to a play-in game for the NCAA tournament.
Kentucky 71, Mississippi 58
With chants of “Go Big Blue” reverberating through a less than full arena, Kentucky pulled off an important win in the SEC tournament.
Three more and an impressive streak of consecutive appearances in the NCAA tourney will remain alive.
“You have to be confident in that perspective, but we’re just taking it one game at a time,” SEC scoring leader Jodie Meeks said after a 25-point performance helped the Wildcats beat Mississippi 71-58.
Alabama 82, Vanderbilt 75
Alonzo Gee scored 25 points and Alabama (18-12) went 12-for-12 from the foul line in the final 1:03 to hold off Vanderbilt (19-12).
Mississippi St. 79, Georgia 60
Kodi Augustus scored a career-high 19 points, Jarvis Varnado added 14 points and 12 rebounds.
BIG TEN
INDIANAPOLIS ó Lawrence Westbrook scored all 14 of his points in the second half, and Minnesota defeated Northwestern 66-53 on Thursday in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
Ralph Sampson III had nine points, six rebounds and five blocks for the Golden Gophers (22-9).
Kevin Coble scored 21 points for Northwestern (17-13), but just two in the second half.
The Wildcats had won three of four, including a victory at No. 24 Purdue, and they felt they needed a win over Minnesota to make a strong case to the NCAA selection committee.
Penn St. 66, Indiana 51
Jamelle Cornley had 22 points and six rebounds, leading sixth-seeded Penn State past Indiana for a 66-51.
The sixth-seeded Nittany Lions (22-10) won for the fourth time in six games. Another win would put Penn State in Saturday’s semifinals and likely lock up their first NCAA tournament bid since 2001.
Michigan 73, Iowa 45
DeShawn Sims scored 27 points, two shy of his career high, and Manny Harris added 18 points and seven rebounds in Michigan’s rout of Iowa.
CONFERENCE USA
MEMPHIS, Tenn. ó Shawn Taggart scored 19 points, and No. 4 Memphis extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 23 straight.
The Tigers (29-3) are trying to add a fourth straight tournament championship to their fourth regular-season title in a row, and playing on their home floor helped them push their C-USA winning streak to 59 straight games overall in their lowest scoring game this season.
Tulsa 73, Rice 51
Ray Reese scored 22 points and Tulsa (23-9) got off to a quick start, defeating Rice.
UAB 74, Southern Miss. 73, OT
Paul Delaney III scored on a layup with less than a second left.
ATLANTIC 10
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. ó B.J. Raymond had 18 points, and C.J. Anderson added 15 for top-seeded Xavier (25-6, 13-4).The Musketeers will play Temple Saint Joseph’s on Friday night.
Duquesne 78, Rhode Island 74
Damian Saunders had 20 points to lead Duquesne to a 78-74 win over Rhode Island . Bill Clark finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds afor the Dukes (20-11), who advanced to the tournament semifinals for the first time since 1994.
Dayton 69, Richmond 64
Marcus Johnson scored 15 points, including two 3-pointers during a crucial second-half stretch.
PAC 10
LOS ANGELES ó Jon Brockman scored 20 points and Isaiah Thomas sparked a decisive second-half spurt with nine points. The Huskies (25-7) will play 23rd-ranked Arizona State (23-8) in today’s semifinals.
Washington, the tournament’s top seed for the first time, has won six in a row and nine of its last 10.
No. 23 Arizona State 68, Arizona 56
Pac-10 player of the year James Harden had 27 points and eight rebounds to help the Sun Devils (23-9) put Arizona’s long NCAA tournament streak in jeopardy.
Arizona (19-13), which has appeared in 24 straight NCAA tournaments, the longest active streak and second-longest behind the 27-year streak by North Carolina from 1975-2001.
USC 79, California 75
Taj Gibson had 21 points and 16 rebounds, Daniel Hackett made four free throws in the last 3.8 seconds, and Southern California never trailed.
MOUNTAIN WEST
LAS VEGAS ó Jimmer Fredette scored 21 points and Jonathan Tavernari had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Lee Cummard scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half for the top-seeded Cougars (25-6).
MEAC
WINSTON-SALEM ó Michael Harper scored 17 points and Tywain McKee converted a three-point play with 24.1 seconds remaining to lift defending champion Coppin State (13-18) to a 66-63 victory over North Carolina A&T (16-16) in the quarterfinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
BIG SKY
Late Wednesday
OGDEN, Utah ó Julius Thomas broke free for a slam off a pass from Dominic Waters with 3.5 seconds left and Portland State hung on to beat Montana State 79-77 in the Big Sky Conference tournament championship.
The Vikings repeated as conference champions and clinched their second consecutive NCAA tournament berth.

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