TAMPA, Fla. | Marcus Thornton scored 21 points and No. 20 LSU beat Kentucky 67-58 Friday to advance to the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament and most likely end the Wildcats' streak of NCAA appearances at 17.
Thornton, the SEC player of the year, keyed a 10-2 spurt to enable the Tigers (26-6) to open a 14-point, second-half lead and nearly outscored Kentucky's high-scoring tandem of Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson by himself.
Kentucky (20-13) entered the tournament feeling it had to win it all to extend its string of consecutive NCAA appearances. The Wildcats last missed the NCAA tournament in 1991 and hasn't played in the NIT since 1979.
Patterson led Kentucky with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Meeks had a season-low eight points on 3-for-9 shooting.