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RECAP: 2024 SEC men’s basketball tournament

The+SEC+conference+is+compiled+of+14+schools+located+in+the+southeastern+part+of+the+United+States.+Design+by+Morgan+Schmidt
Morgan Schmidt
The SEC conference is compiled of 14 schools located in the southeastern part of the United States. Design by Morgan Schmidt

Since 1933, the men’s Southeastern Conference basketball tournament has gathered audiences from all across the nation to watch their favorite teams battle it out for the conference championship and a ticket to the big dance: the NCAA Tournament.

This year, 14 teams will compete for the title of SEC Tournament Champion. Each team in the conference is given a seed based on their regular-season record. This year’s SEC tournament is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year for college basketball fans. The Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, is expecting a sea of eager fans who are ready to watch their favorite team play from Wednesday, March 13 to Sunday, March 17. 

The first day of the tournament started with two exciting games between the four lowest-seeded teams in the conference. Starting strong, the 12-seed Arkansas Razorbacks took on the 13-seed Vanderbilt Commodores. Despite the leading scorer of the game being Vanderbilt’s Erza Manjon, the Commodores could not pull away with the win as the game went into a heated overtime. The game ended 85-90 with the Razorbacks moving forward to face South Carolina on Thursday.

 Directly following this exciting game came a match-up between the 14-seed Missouri Tigers and the 11-seed Georgia Bulldogs. With the Tigers looking for the first win in the conference, this game was crucial for them. Although the game was close, the Tigers once again came up short, ending their season 0-19 in conference and the Bulldogs moved on to face Florida on Thursday. 

Going into Thursday, Nashville started to feel the heat as the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth seeds made their first appearances in the SEC tournament weekend. Starting the day with somewhat of an upset, the number nine seed Mississippi State Bulldogs knocked the LSU Tigers out of the tournament. Led by freshman Josh Hubbard, the Bulldogs secured their spot on Friday.

Right after the conclusion of the first game came out the blazing hot South Carolina Gamecocks with the fifth seed playing the sixth seed Arkansas Razorbacks. Collin Murray-Boyles led the Gamecocks to victory with his second highest-scoring game of the season, eliminating the Razorbacks and securing the second spot for Friday’s games. 

Next up came seven-seed Texas A&M Aggies against the ten-seed Ole Miss Rebels. Despite senior Jaemyn Brakefield of Ole Miss having one of the best games of his career, – being the leading scorer of the whole game – Texas A&M’s offense was too strong for the Rebels to tackle. The Aggies moved on to Friday ready to fight for blood. 

To close out a long day of competitive games was the final match-up for Thursday; the sixth-seed Florida Gators and the 11-seed Georgia Bulldogs. Although the game was close the entire time, the Gators came away with the win and punched their ticket to the quarterfinals.

First up for Friday, the top-seed Tennessee Volunteers and Mississippi State Bulldogs came looking for their second win in the tournament. Not only did the Mississippi State bulldogs hand the Volunteers the biggest upset of the tournament, but they also beat them by almost 20 points, sending Tennessee back to Knoxville much earlier than expected as the number one seed in the tournament. This huge win sent the Bulldogs to the semifinals becoming one of the lowest seeds to ever make the SEC Tournament semifinals. 

Next on the court were the four-seed Auburn Tigers and the five-seed South Carolina Gamecocks. Overall on paper, these two teams were evenly matched, but the equally strong offense and defense of the Tigers was too great for the Gamecocks, allowing Auburn to secure themselves a spot in the semifinals with a 31 point win led by Junior Johni Broome. 

Coming off of one of their biggest wins of the season, the two-seed Kentucky Wildcats were ready to take on the Texas A&M Aggies. Despite this game being one of the closest games of the entire tournament, another upset was handed to the Wildcats as the Aggies ultimately pulled out the win against the eager Wildcats. The Aggies celebrated their victory and began to quickly prepare for the semi-finals.

If Friday had yet to be eventful with the top two seeds of the tournament losing, the six-seed Florida Gators continued the trend against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Despite being the third seed in the tournament and having one of their best-ever seasons, the Crimson Tide could not pull away with a win. Led by Walter Clayton Jr, the six-seed Florida Gators won by almost twenty points, moving on to the semifinals.

With the highest sum of seeds in the semifinal games in SEC Tournament history, the round began with Auburn vs. Mississippi State. Although Mississippi State had the lead for the majority of the game, looking to be the first nine seed to make it to the SEC Tournament finals, they lost their spark in the last five minutes, giving the Auburn Tigers the win. 

To find out who would secure the other spot in the finals, the Florida Gators and the Texas A&M Aggies faced off. This was another close matchup that left the fans on the edge of their seats until the end of the game. Although Texas A&M’s Junior Guard Wade Taylor had his highest-scoring game of the season and the Aggies led for the majority of the game, they were no match for the Gators who, in the end, took the win to move onto Sunday’s championship game. 

Going into Sunday’s Championship game, both of these teams were pretty evenly matched. When the game began, both teams started strong, but unfortunately for the Gators, their 7 ‘1 defensive superstar center Micah Handlogten broke his leg just five minutes in. Although the Gators kept up most of the first half, the Tigers managed to beat them, taking the SEC tournament title and punching their ticket to the NCAA tournament.

With one of the most unexpected tournaments to date, many upsets took fans by surprise, sending fan-favorite teams home early. Although disappointing for many teams, that is the nature of March Madness.

About the Contributors
Liv Ashley, Staffer
Liv Ashley is a staffer for Manual RedEye. You can contact her at [email protected].
Morgan Schmidt, Social Media Director
Morgan Schmidt is the Social Media Director for Manual RedEye. You can contact her at [email protected].
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