Gardner, hot-shooting East Carolina stun No. 5 Houston

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Jayden Gardner had 21 points and 15 rebounds to help East Carolina stun fifth-ranked Houston 82-73 on Wednesday night, securing the Pirates’ first win against a ranked opponent in nearly two decades.

Tremont Robinson-White added 17 points for East Carolina, which defied season-long offensive struggles against one of the nation’s top defensive teams. East Carolina shot 47% and made 11 of 24 3-pointers. The Pirates led for the last 12-plus minutes against a Houston team that struggled to make much of anything after halftime.

East Carolina (8-6, 2-6 American Athletic Conference) hadn’t won a game in more than a month between five straight losses and three postponements.

DeJon Jarreau matched his career high with 25 points to lead the Cougars (15-2, 10-2), who had won nine straight meetings dating to 2015, including wins by double-digit margins on ECU’s home floor in each of the past four seasons. But top scorer Quentin Grimes struggled to just seven points on 2-for-10 shooting.

NO. 10 ALABAMA 78, LSU 60

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Jaden Shackelford scored 19 points and Alabama beat LSU to widen its lead in the Southeastern Conference standings.

After setting a league record with 23 made 3-pointers in their previous matchup on Jan. 19, Alabama (15-4, 10-0 SEC) showed it has multiple ways to win, this time by holding LSU (11-5, 6-4) to its lowest scoring output of the season.

Cameron Thomas scored 22 points for LSU.

PITTSBURGH 83, NO. 16 VIRGINIA TECH 72

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Xavier Johnson scored a career-high 32 points and Pittsburgh beat Virginia Tech to end a three-game skid.

Johnson had been slumping and was held out of Pitt’s starting lineup for the first time this season. He shot 11 of 17 from the floor, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range, as the Panthers (9-5, 5-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) had their way against a usually stingy Virginia Tech defense.

Pittsburgh beat a ranked opponent for the first time since January 2019.

Keve Aluma scored 30 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including 4 of 6 from long range, for the Hokies (13-4, 7-3), who were coming off a win over then-No. 8 Virginia. Justyn Mutts added 17 points.

NO. 18 MISSOURI 75, KENTUCKY 70

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Dru Smith scored a season-high 26 points, Xavier Pinson added 14 and Missouri withstood a second-half charge to beat Kentucky.

Smith also had seven rebounds and five assists to go along with 6-for-11 shooting. The senior also went 12 of 14 from the free-throw line to help the Tigers (12-3, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) hold on.

Davion Mintz led Kentucky (5-11, 4-5) with 18 points and made four 3s. Keion Brooks Jr. and Brandon Boston Jr. tallied 10 apiece.

SOUTH CAROLINA 72, NO. 22 FLORIDA 66

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — AJ Lawson scored 22 points, Seventh Woods added 12 and South Carolina beat Florida.

Keyshawn Bryant added eight points for the Gamecocks, including six in a decisive 13-1 run over the final 6:37 to close the game. That spurt turned a six-point deficit into an unlikely road victory.

South Carolina (5-6, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) dominated the Gators (10-5, 6-4) inside, outscoring them 50-30 in the paint and getting 13 offensive rebounds.

Tre Mann had 17 points and eight rebounds for Florida, which was playing its first game as a ranked team in more than 14 months.

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