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Kentucky holds off Florida to reach SEC final

Mar 10, 2012 - 10:41 PM New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Doron Lamb scored 16 points to lead a balanced attack, as the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats held off the 22nd-ranked Florida Gators, 74-71, in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Terrence Jones, Anthony Davis and Marquis Teague added 15 points apiece for the top-seeded Wildcats (32-1), who have won 24 in a row. Davis also pulled down 12 rebounds.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist donated 10 points and eight boards for Kentucky, which will play Vanderbilt in Sunday's title game.

"The game was tough," Lamb said. "It's hard to beat a team three times straight. They knew everything we were going to do on defense and offense. We executed at the end of the game and made clutch foul shots and we pulled out the win."

Erik Murphy ended with a career-high 24 points for the Gators (23-10), who went 0-3 against the Wildcats this season and fell to 3-12 all-time against Kentucky in the SEC Tournament.

Bradley Beal tallied 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists for fourth- seeded Florida, which went 11-of-22 from three-point range. Patric Young had 10 points.

Murphy's layup and Erving Walker's three-pointer gave Florida a 54-49 lead with 11:40 to play. The margin was the same after Teague and Young traded jumpers.

But Kentucky changed the momentum with a huge 14-0 run. Jones tallied seven points during the surge, which Davis capped with a free throw for a 65-56 margin with seven minutes left.

Murphy, though, was not going to let Florida go down without a fight. He made a three-pointer and two layups during a personal 7-0 flurry to get the Gators within two, 65-63, with 2:43 remaining.

The Wildcats dominated the boards all game and came up with a huge rebound at the other end. After Teague missed the second of two free throws, Davis grabbed the ball and put in a layup for a 68-63 lead.

Beal took his turn at keeping Florida in the game by making a three-pointer. But Beal would miss from beyond the arc on the Gators' next trip down the court.

Jones made two free throws with 34.6 seconds left to give Kentucky a 70-66 margin. Teague and Lamb also added two foul shots down the stretch to seal the victory.

"I think we just got to keep it up," Murphy said. "We got to play with confidence, play unselfishly, and fix the little things, like offensive rebounds, that hurt us today, and turnovers and stuff like that. I think we just got to keep playing the way we have been."

Florida led for a majority of the first half but failed to finish the period on a strong note.

Tailing by seven, 39-32, with less than 4 1/2 minutes to go, Lamb and Davis made three-pointers around a Teague jumper for a 40-39 edge at the break.

Game Notes

Kentucky holds a 93-33 edge in the all-time series versus Florida...Kentucky went 5-of-17 from three-point range and 15-of-20 from the foul line...The Gators went 2-of-2 from the charity stripe...The Wildcats have 27 SEC titles to their name.