Checking In On… the SECPosted by jstevrtc on December 1st, 2009
Paul Jordan of Wildcat Blue Blog is the RTC correspondent for the Southeastern Conference.
- Kentucky (7-0)
- Florida (6-0)
- Tennessee (5-1)
- South Carolina (5-1)
- Vanderbilt (4-1)
- Georgia (3-2)
- Mississippi (5-1)
- Mississippi State (4-2)
- Alabama (4-2)
- LSU (3-2)
- Auburn (3-3)
- Arkansas (2-4)
The big story in the SEC this week has been the re-emergence of Florida as a national threat. The question being asked everywhere is, “Is Florida back?” As of now, that answer is a resounding YES. The Gators just completed a very impressive week (see team updates), and have a good core group in the 2010 recruiting class. Add to this the speculation that Florida may be taking the lead over Kentucky in the race for #1 2010 recruit Brandon Knight and it appears that this season and the future for UF is very bright indeed. Thanks to Florida, the SEC East is shaping up as possibly one of the best divisions in the country with Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt combining for a 27-3 record. The SEC East has three teams in the Top 17 in the country (Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida) with Vanderbilt lurking in the fringes of the Top 25. The SEC is still looking solid for a possible eight NCAA bids this year. I know it’s early, but the five teams in the East, plus the two Mississippi teams and darkhorse Alabama are clearly the class of the conference thus far.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR THIS WEEK:
There are literally a ton of interesting matchups this week as the SEC teams start to cut back on the cupcakes (except for Florida, who has three scheduled) and get their teams ready for conference season. The highlight of the week has to be #12 North Carolina at #5 Kentucky on Saturday. As of now, UK has a slim lead over UNC in the all-time wins race 1995 to 1990 and this game is huge in that aspect. Here is a look a the better matchups for the week:
- 12/2 – Western Kentucky @ South Carolina – 7 PM
- 12/2 – Missouri @ Vanderbilt – 9:30 PM
- 12/5 – #12 North Carolina @ #5 Kentucky – 12:30 PM – CBS
- 12/5 – St Bonaventure @ Mississippi State – 2:00 PM
- 12/5 – DePaul @ Vanderbilt – 4 PM
- 12/6 – South Carolina @ #18 Clemson – 1:00 PM
- 12/6 – Georgia @ Virginia Tech – 3:30 PM
- 12/7 – Virginia @ Auburn – 8 PM – ESPN 360
TEAM UPDATES (rankings are AP, ESPN/USA Today)
Kentucky (#5, #4) — Kentucky opened the week with a 73-49 win over Cleveland State in the Cancun Challenge. Sensational freshmen John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins led the Wildcats with 15 and 14 points, respectively, and the Wildcats harassed the Vikings into a 26.6% shooting day. For the second time in six games, UK needed some late game heroics from Wall, who hit a late regulation jumper to held send the game into overtime against the Stanford Cardinal. In the extra period, fellow freshman Eric Bledsoe hit a key 3-pointer and UK went on to a 73-65 win and their best start since 2003-2004. Wall poured in 23 points to lead the Cats. UK tuned up for their big matchup with North Carolina by rolling past UNC Asheville 94-57 last night. Wall had 14 assists and 12 points in just 26 minutes and Cousins had 24 points and 10 rebounds as Kentucky turned in their most complete performance of the year.
Florida (#13 , #17) — The Gators broke out to a 20-point halftime lead and never looked back in their 68-52 thrashing of Florida State. The Gators had lost the previous three games in the bitter rivalry and were led by Alex Tyus, Kenny Boynton, and Erving Walker, each with 13 points. On Friday Night, the Gators recorded their biggest win in the last three seasons by knocking off #2 Michigan State 77-74 in the Legends Classic Tournament in Atlantic City. Chandler Parsons led the way with 14 points and Walker added 12, including a key 3-pointer to seal the win. Florida continued their early season success with a 73-58 win over Rutgers in the finals of the Legends Classic. Kenny Boynton scored 19 and Vernon Macklin was 7-9 from the field for 14 points to lead the Gators.
Tennessee (#11, #12) — The Volunteers rebounded from their first lost of the season with a 86-69 win over Charleston. Scotty Hopson regained his scoring touch with 21 points (3-3 on 3-pointers) while Tyler Smith scored 18.
South Carolina — A Dominique Archie-less Gamecocks squad needed a furious finish to avoid an upset at the hands of the Jacksonville Dolphins. Devan Downey scored 17 points in the last 5:30 and the Gamecocks held on for a 97-93 win in their only game of the week. Downey scored 34 points and Brandis Raley-Ross moved into the starting lineup with an 18-point performance.
Vanderbilt — The Commodores used a 24 point run in the second half to pull away from Chaminade and win their matchup in the EA Sports Maui Classic 68-41. The Commodores managed to get 15 players involved in the game and were led by John Jenkins and Jermaine Beal with 14 and 10 points, respectively. The Commodores got a nice quality win for the SEC with a 84-72 pasting of Arizona in their next Maui Classic game. A.J Ogilvy had 20 points and Jeffrey Taylor added a double-double for the Commodores, who have been far from home most of the season so far.
Georgia — Ricky McPhee, until this year a walk on for the Bulldogs, led Georgia to a 79-58 romp over UNC Asheville. McPhee was 8-9 from the field to pace the Bulldogs. Georgia put four players into double digits in the win, including Travis Leslie, Trey Thompkins, and Albert Jackson. The Bulldogs rallied from an 8 point halftime deficit t0 edge Jacksonville State 67-64 and avoid yet another embarrassing early loss. Trey Thompkins had 19 for the Bulldogs while both Leslie and McPhee each added 16.
Mississippi — The Rebels had a laid back week with just one game and they easily handled the Texas A&M-CC Islanders 73-58. Ole Miss built up a 17 point halftime lead and cruised the rest of the way. They were led by Chris Warren and Terrico White, both of whom had 19 points.
Mississippi State — Jarvis Varnado is definitely improving his NBA draft status as he recorded another double double (12 pts, 15 boards) in the Bulldogs’ 75-50 whooping of Texas-Pan American. All of the starters except for Phil Turner scored in double digits for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State then suffered their second loss of the season on Friday night, this one to Richmond, 63-62. Ravern Johnson was team high scorer with 15, but Varnado was kept out of double digits in both points (8) and rebounds (6). Finally, Dee Bost drilled six of nine 3-pointers as part of 25 points to help lead the Bulldogs to a 69-55 win over Old Dominion. Jarvis Varnado scored 15 points as all but one of MSU’s starters (Ravern Johnson) scored in double digits.
Alabama — JaMychal Green and Mikhail Torrance scored 22 and 20 points to help hand Baylor their first defeat 79-76 in the opening round of the Old spice Classic in Orlando. Senario Hillman added 15 points for the Crimson Tide. In the next round of the Old Spice Tournament, Alabama ran into a hot-shooting Florida State team that hit nine of 13 from beyond the 3-point line. FSU won the semi-final matchup 60-51; Green led Alabama with nine points and eight rebounds. Anthony Grant recorded his first win at Alabama over a ranked team as his Crimson Tide upset #15 Michigan in the Old Spice Tournament. Green slammed home the final points with five seconds left to secure the ‘Bama win and he finished with 20 points, in the meantime swatting Michigan’s last second attempt to tie the game. Charvez Davis added 12 points from the bench.
LSU — The then-3-0 Tigers ran into the buzzsaw called the #13 Connecticut Huskies and were duly humbled 81-55. LSU could not handle the dynamic guard play of Walker/Dyson and fell behind early as this game was never in doubt. Storm Warren was the only Tiger in double digits with 15 points. The Tigers made the trip to NYC for the Preseason NIT officially one to forget with a 71-52 loss to Arizona State. Tasmin Mitchell led the way for LSU with 17 points but it was not enough to prevent the Tigers from getting blitzed 44-18 in the second half.
Auburn — The Tigers placed five players in double digits, including Lucas Hargrove’s double-double, and they dismantled High Point, 75-54. Auburn held the Panthers to just 18 points in the first half and 32% shooting overall.
Arkansas — The Razorbacks suffered an embarrassing loss and had their 45-game home win streak against non-conference opponents snapped by Morgan State, 97-94. Arkansas, still short handed due to suspensions, has been wildly inconsistent in the early season. Rotnei Clarke and Michael Washington led the Razorbacks with 26 and 21 points, respectively. The stat of the game was that both teams shot a combined 86 free throws. The Arkansas losing streak at home reached two games as the Razorbacks were upset by 2-3 East Tennessee State. The Razorbacks fell down 48-32 at the half and could not catch up despite Rotnei Clark’s 32 points on 10-17 3-point shooting. Julysses Nobles had 11 assists for Arkansas but it was not enough to prevent the 94-85 loss. The Razorbacks achieved a hat trick in shocking losses as John Pelphery lost to his former team, the South Alabama Jaguars, 74-61. Arkansas was blitzed in the second half by the Jags, 44-27. Clarke remains about the only consistent weapon, adding 19 points in that one and Jemal Farmer threw in 12.