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No. 1 Kentucky wins 24th straight

  |   March 10, 2012 at 5:40 PM
NEW ORLEANS, March 10 (UPI) -- Terrence Jones paced a 14-point run in the second half Saturday and No. 1 Kentucky then held on to down Florida 74-71 in the SEC semifinals.

The Wildcats won their 24th consecutive game, battling back from a five-point deficit to set up a conference tournament championship duel with Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt ended the run of seventh-seeded Mississippi in the other semifinal by pulling away late to down the Rebels 65-53.

Florida, ranked 19th in the country and seeded fourth in the tournament, appeared on the verge of pulling off the upset when it took a 56-51 advantage with 10:45 left in the contest.

Kentucky then ran off 14 straight points and held the Gators scoreless for more than 6 minutes.

Florida closed its deficit to two with 14 seconds to play on an Erik Murphy layup, but two free throws each from Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb wrapped up the Kentucky victory.

Lamb had 16 points while Jones, Teague and Anthony Davis each had 15. Kentucky improved to 32-1, its lone loss of the season having come against Indiana on Dec. 10.

Erik Murphy scored a career-best 24 for Florida (23-10). The Gators fell to 3-12 all-time against Kentucky in the SEC Tournament.

Mississippi had a one-point lead over Vanderbilt early in the second before the Commodores went on a 15-6 surge that broke the game open.

John Jenkins scored 23 points to pace Vanderbilt (23-10). Half of the Commodores' field goal attempts came from 3-point range and they made seven of them.

Mississippi reached the semifinals by knocking off second-seeded Tennessee, but the Rebels managed only 17 shots from the field for the entire game. Jarvis Summers had 15 points off the bench to lead Mississippi (20-13).

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