For the second straight game, LSU pulled away late in Nashville to advance in the SEC Tournament, this time with a 78-71 victory over Arkansas. The Tigers will meet Alabama on Sunday in the title game.

The Tigers were fueled by big runs in the second half, including a five-minute stretch where they built a 10-point lead thanks to a 15-2 run. It all started with about 10 minutes left in the second half as LSU took its largest lead of the game — 7 points — after it built a a 12-2 run in 3 minutes.

It’s the first time LSU has reached the SEC title game since 1993, and the Tigers are trying to win the title for the first time since 1980. Arkansas was 1-for-12 from 3 in the second half, while LSU held the Razorbacks to 23 percent for the game.

There was some suspense down the stretch as Arkansas’ J.D. Notae made a steal and then fed Justin Smith on a fast break to cut the margin to 3 with less than a minute to go, but then Javonte Smart scored easily on a runner for LSU. Then LSU forced the Razorbacks’ 15th turnover of the game to ice it with 11.2 seconds.

Smart added 19 points, while Cam Thomas scored 21 points for LSU.

LSU’s defense helped control the game as it locked down Arkansas star Moses Moody, who had 20 points at halftime, but had just 8 points in the second half. LSU had a balanced attack at halftime with 3 players in double figures, led by Smart with 13.

The headline news was that LSU’s win snapped Arkansas’ 12-game SEC win streak which was the longest active conference win streak in Power 5. The Razorbacks, who lost a non-conference game to Oklahoma State Jan. 30, hadn’t lost an SEC game since Jan. 16 at Alabama.

Earlier in the day, Joe Lunardi said on the SEC Network that he didn’t believe Arkansas can move up from a No. 3 to a No. 2 seed because of the strength of the 2s.

The game was similar to their regular season meetings, which were a split. The teams last faced each other on Feb. 27, when the Razorbacks pulled out an 83-75 victory.

 

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