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SEC Tournament’s Top Three Seeds Fall in Chaotic Quarterfinal Round

SEC Basketball
The 2023 SEC Basketball Tournament. Photo by RTI.

Friday’s quarterfinal round of the SEC Tournament felt like the equivalent of an upset-heavy opening weekend at the NCAA Tournament.

The top three seeds of the SEC Tournament all fell to lower-ranked competition in Nashville despite having a bye during the second round on Thursday.

With a strong amount of orange in the building to start the day, 1-seed Tennessee fell to 9-seed Mississippi State in the first game of the Friday slate. The Bulldogs hit Tennessee in the mouth to start the game and used a physical inside presence down low to keep the Vols on their heels for the 40-minute contest.

Tennessee didn’t look like themselves, which was most evidenced by their starting veteran trio of Jonas Aidoo, Santiago Vescovi, and Josiah-Jordan James only combining for eight points despite each player being on the court for more than 20 minutes. The Vols’ struggled on defense which led to poor shooting and turnovers on the offense end, mixing together for a mess of a tournament showing.

The Bulldogs took down the Vols by a score of 73-56 in the first game of the day from Bridgestone Arena.

More from RTI: Tennessee Basketball Looking To Find Desperate Mindset Entering NCAA Tournament

Four-seed Auburn was the only top-four team to handle their business on Friday. Auburn decimated 5-seed South Carolina by a score of 86-55 in the second game of the day to advance to face Mississippi State in the semi-final round.

Kentucky, the two-seed in the tournament, couldn’t survive a 32-point performance from Wade Taylor IV as Texas A&M nearly hit triple digits in a 97-87 win over the Wildcats. The Aggies raced out of the starting gates and while Kentucky did make a few pushes here and there, Texas A&M held strong for all 40 minutes to secure an upset win in the quarterfinal round.

Before the final game of the day even took place, the top two seeds and two biggest traveling fanbases were officially out of the tournament after just one game.

The Florida Gators continued their recent dominance over two-seed Alabama in the nightcap from Bridgestone Arena. After defeating Alabama by a score of 105-87 in the second to last regular season game, Florida once again dropped 100+ points on the Crimson Tide during a 102-88 win in the SEC Tournament. Alabama got out to a good lead to open the game until Florida blitzed the Tide heading into halftime. The Gators held onto and built their lead in the second half to drop the Crimson Tide for a second time in their last three games.

And just like that, the top three seeds of the SEC Tournament had all fallen out of the running after just one game in Nashville.

Tennessee, a consensus 1-seed projection from Joe Lunardi (ESPN) and Jerry Palm (CBS) before the conference tournament, dropped to a 2-seed according to both publications.

Kentucky was a 3-seed from ESPN and a 3-seed from CBS before the tournament and now sits as a 4-seed according to ESPN and a 3-seed according to CBS.

Alabama remains a 4-seed according to both publications, as what was projected before the tournament.

Four-seed Auburn defeated 9-seed Mississippi State in the semi-final round on Saturday to advance to the SEC Tournament championship game on Sunday. 7-seed Texas A&M will take on 6-seed Florida in the afternoon semi-final game.

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