AP photo by Mark Humphrey / Tennessee's Rae Burrell, right, tries to break free from Alabama's Brittany Davis during the second half of an SEC tournament quarterfinal Friday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

NASHVILLE — Tennessee senior Rae Burrell matched her season high by scoring 21 points, Alexus Dye added 16 with 14 rebounds, and the 18th-ranked Lady Volunteers never trailed Friday night while routing Alabama 74-59 in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference women's basketball tournament.

The third-seeded Lady Vols (23-7), who had a bye into Friday's round, reached their second straight SEC semifinal and the 34th in program history. They'll face seventh-seeded Kentucky in the second game Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena, with the winner facing either Ole Miss or South Carolina in Sunday afternoon's title game.

Tennessee improved to 53-8 all-time against Alabama, this time getting payback for a 74-64 loss in Tuscaloosa on Feb. 17, when Jordan Horston — the Lady Vols' leading scorer this seson — hit the court late in the game and fractured and dislocated her left elbow, an injury that could keep her out the rest of this season.

Tess Darby had 12 points for Tennessee, which led by 21 late before coach Kellie Harper started emptying her bench. Ten Lady Vols scored at least two points, Burrell handed out seven assists and Tamari Key blocked five shots.

The 11th-seeded Crimson Tide (17-13) had won two straight, against 14th-seeded Auburn and sixth-seeded Georgia, to get to their third game in as many days. They headed home still looking for their first SEC semifinal berth since 1999.

Coach Kristy Curry summed up the game for Alabama when she got ejected with 2:06 left in the second quarter, picking up her second technical foul for arguing a call. Burrell hit the ensuing free throws to put Tennessee up 34-16, matching its biggest lead of the first half.

Megan Abrams led Alabama with 19 points, and Allie Craig Cruce added 12.

Dye scored 10 early to help Tennessee lead 15-5 after the first quarter. The Lady Vols pushed that advantage to 18 during the second and led 34-20 at halftime despite missing nine of their final 10 shots in the period.

Alabama got within 36-24 when Burrell hit a 3-pointer, then followed with a three-point play to push Tennessee's lead back to 42-24 in the first couple minutes of the second half. The Lady Vols were ahead 56-37 after the third quarter.

some text
AP photo by Mark Humphrey / Tennessee's Alexus Dye leas for a rebound over Alabama's Hannah Barber and Allie Craig Cruce in the first half of an SEC tournament quarterfinal Friday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Kentucky 78, No. 6 LSU 63

Rhyne Howard scored 32 points and Kentucky never trailed while beating LSU in an SEC stunner in Friday's third quarterfinal.

Seventh-seeded Kentucky (17-11), which won its tourney opener by beating 10th-seeded Mississippi State 83-67 in Thursday's second round, has won eight straight games since losing eight of nine. The Wildcats are in the SEC semifinals for the 17th time overall and second time in three seasons.

LSU (25-5), which had won eight straight games to secure the SEC's No. 2 seed in Kim Mulkey's first season as coach, got 27 points from Khayla Pointer and 13 from Ryann Payne, but no other Tiger had more than four.

Howard, the former Bradley Central High School standout who could be the top pick in this year's WNBA draft, had 19 points in the first half as the Wildcats took a 45-25 lead into intermission. She was 6-for-8 from 3-point range in the game and made all four of her free throws.

Dre'Una Edwards scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Kentucky, while Treasure Hunt also had 13 points and Robyn Benton added 11. Jazmine Massengill had eight assists and three blocks. Hunt and Massengill prepped at Chattanooga's Hamilton Heights Christian Academy.

LSU outscored Kentucky 21-12 in the third, but the Wildcats opened the fourth with a 9-2 run capped by Howard's sixth 3 and the Tigers never got closer than 11 down the stretch.


No. 1 South Carolina 76, Arkansas 54

Aliyah Boston notched her 22nd consecutive double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds as the top-seeded Gamecocks (28-1) entered the postseason by eliminating eighth-seeded Arkansas (18-13) and running their winning streak to 16 games.

The Gamecocks were recognized as SEC regular-season champions before tipoff, then took their first step toward a seventh tournament title in eight years against the last team to beat them in this event. Arkansas topped South Carolina in the quarterfinals in 2019, with the Gamecocks undefeated since then as the tourney's back-to-back reigning champions.

They're among the SEC's final four teams for the ninth time in 10 seasons and will face Ole Miss in Saturday's first semifinal at 5 p.m. The Gamecocks won 71-57 at Ole Miss last weekend in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Boston, the SEC's player of the year and three-time defensive player of the year, did a bit of everything as usual, adding five assists, five steals and two blocks to her points and rebounds. Laeticia Amihere added 16 points, and Victaria Saxton had 11 rebounds.

Samara Spencer scored 10 points to lead the Razorbacks, who beat ninth-seeded Missouri 61-52 in overtime in Thursday's second round.


Ole Miss 70, No. 23 Florida 60

Two-time All-SEC center Shakira Austin scored 27 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, blocked six shots and handed out four assists as fourth-seeded Ole Miss (23-7) held off fifth-seeded Florida (21-10) and posted its fifth win in six games.

The Rebels, who had a bye into the quarterfinals, reached the semifinals for the 10th time in program history but first time since 1993. Angel Baker scored 15 points for Ole Miss, which hit 12 of its last 14 free throws to seal the win.

Florida now will wait for the 68-team NCAA tournament bracket to be revealed on March 13. The Gators lost for the fourth time in their past five games and are dealing with injuries to two starters who rank among their top three scorers this season.

All-SEC guard Kiara "Kiki" Smith, the team's leading scorer, was helped off the court late in Thursday's win over Vanderbilt with a right knee injury. She was on the bench using crutches at Friday's game, during which forward Jordyn Merritt took a nasty fall in the first quarter and played only three minutes.

Zippy Broughton made six 3-pointers as she led Florida with 26 points, while Kristina Moore added 11.