Checking in on… the SECPosted by jstevrtc on December 8th, 2009
Paul Jordan of Wildcat Blue Blog is the RTC correspondent for the Southeastern Conference.
- Kentucky 8-0
- Florida 8-0
- Tennessee 6-1
- Vanderbilt 6-1
- South Carolina 6-2
- Georgia 4-3
- Mississippi 7-1
- Alabama 6-2
- Mississippi State 5-2
- LSU 4-2
- Auburn 5-4
- Arkansas 4-5
Anyone doubting the SEC’s resurgence this season had to be pouring themselves a big glass of “hater-ade” after taking a look at the weekly Top 25 polls. The SEC, which sent only three teams to the NCAA Tourney last season now has three teams perched in the Top 10 and four teams are among the Top 25 in the nation.
Kentucky used a win over North Carolina to leapfrog Purdue into the #4 spot in the AP Top 25 and now have that spot in both polls. Tennessee only had one game last week, but moved to #9 in both polls due to other teams’ misfortunes, and the resurgent Florida Gators now occupy the #10 spot in the AP Top 25 and the 11th spot in the ESPN/USA Today Poll. Mississippi debuted in the AP Poll at #25 and fell just outside the top 25 at #29 in the ESPN/USA Today poll. In contrast to that, Vanderbilt was #24th in the ESPN poll and #28 in the AP Poll.
What to look for this week: It’s a very slim schedule this week with only 13 games, yet I find nine of them interesting enough to be highlighted for one reason or another. The big noise for the week will come courtesy of the SEC/Big East Invitational with four very compelling matchups. The Wednesday games in New York City carry the allure of the Kentucky/Connecticut tilt, but the Thursday games in Tampa feature a “home” game for the Gators against Syracuse. You can’t ask for better matchups if you are a fan of SEC basketball and it sure as heck trumps the 125th showing of A Christmas Story.
(All games below except the first are SEC/Big East Invitational Games)
- 12/8 – Vanderbilt (6-1) @ Illinois (6-2) 8:30 PM
- 12/9 – Georgia (4-3) vs St. Johns (6-1) 7:00 PM – ESPN2
- 12/9 – Kentucky (8-0) vs Connecticut (6-1) – 9:30 PM – ESPN
- 12/10 – DePaul (5-2) vs Mississippi State (5-2) – 6:30 PM – ESPN2
- 12/10 – Syracuse (8-0) vs Florida (8-0) – 9:00 PM – ESPN
Other notable games:
- 12/11 – Western Kentucky (2-3) @ Vanderbilt (6-1) – 9:30 PM
- 12/12 – Kentucky (8-0) @ Indiana (3-4) – 12:00 PM – CBS
- 12/12 – Mississippi State (5-2) @ UCLA (2-4) – 4:30 PM – FSN
- 12/12 – Purdue (7-0) @ Alabama (6-2) – 9:00 PM – ESPN2
TEAM UPDATES (ratings are AP, ESPN/USA Today)
Kentucky (#4, #4) — Just one game for the Wildcats this past week, but what a game. Kentucky used a 28-2 first half blitz to take a 45-30 lead over #10 North Carolina. The Tar Heels stormed back in the second half behind a tenacious half court game and some John Wall cramps to make it a fantastic finish. Kentucky withstood the rally to win 68-66 and increase their lead in the race to 2000 wins over North Carolina to 1996-1991. Eric Bledsoe and John Wall sealed the deal, making 5 of 6 FT’s down the strech, and oh, by the way, Patrick Patterson scored 19.
Florida (#10 , #11) — Florida kept up the momentum of their big wins over Florida State and Michigan State to paste the Florida A&M Rattlers 80-59. Florida improved to 7-0 for the first time since the 2005 season and Dan Werner led the way with 16 points. Kenny Boynton, who was struggling with the stomach flu, counteracted a 0-7 shooting night with 9 assists. The Gators then continued their run of mid-tier Florida schools with an 85-67 win at the Jacksonville Dolphins. Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton went 7-12 from beyond the 3-point line and and the Gators shot 60% as a team on treys. Boynton had 18 and Vernon Macklin added 16 to lead the Gators. The Gators have two very good wins early this season and seem to be building their case early for an NCAA bid.
Tennessee (#9, #9) — The Volunteers ran into a scrappy East Tennessee State squad and led by just five points at the half. Tennessee gradually pulled away in the second half to win, 78-66, as Tyler Smith led the way with 15 points. Scotty Hopson added 10 points but struggled through a 4-14 shooting night.
Vanderbilt (n/a, #24) — A.J Ogilvy had 25 points and led the Commodores to a nice out-of-conference win over the Missouri Tigers. Andre Walker and Jeffrey Taylor were big on the boards for the ‘Dores with 12 and 11 rebounds, respectively, while Taylor added 18 points for the double double. Vanderbilt continued their impressive out-of-conference schedule with a 67-54 win over the 5-1 DePaul Blue Demons. Ogilvy continued his impressive week with 19 points, the bulk of which came on 13-15 FT shooting. Taylor added 18 points and Vandy used their solid inside game to post a 40-28 difference in rebounds.
South Carolina — Brandis Raley-Ross, playing for an injured Dominique Archie, hit two 3-pointers to key a 21-4 first half rally to lead the Gamecocks to a 74-56 win over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. The Gamecocks made up for Archie’s absence with five players in double figures, led by Devan Downey’s 15 points. The Gamecocks travelled to #19 Clemson and lost their sixth straight game in this in-state rivalry, 72-61. Raley-Ross scored 16 for the Gamecocks but they could not keep up with Clemson in the second half due to the lack of depth brought on Archie’s injury as Clemson. South Carolina played just eight players and their bench went just 5-19 from the floor with 11 points.
Georgia — The Bulldogs got a nice 64-56 win over the scrappy St Louis Billikins to improve to 4-2 for new coach Mark Fox. Four of Georgia five starters scored in double-digits, led by Dustin Ware’s 17 points, and Jeremy Price added 14 off the bench to lead an even Georgia attack. The Bulldogs went to Blacksburg to try to get a signature win for their new coach but fell to the 6-1 Virginia Tech Hokies, 74-62. The Bulldogs did not get much production from their starters aside of Travis Leslie and Dustin Ware (17 and 10 pts, respectively). Price had a nother nice game in relief with 10 points and 7 rebounds but the Bulldogs were just overmatched in this game.
Mississippi (#25, n/a) — The Rebels used a 35-13 first half run to set the tone for their 79-57 win over Arkansas State. Terrico White (19 pts) and Zach Graham (17 pts) led the scoring attack and Murphy Holloway grabbed 13 rebounds in just 20 minutes off the bench. Things looked grim on Saturday for the Rebels as they trailed Southern Mississippi, 77-71, with about a minute remaining, but a furious rally capped by a Eniel Polynice breakaway slam with 2 seconds left gave Ole Miss a 81-79 win. Chris Warren scored 20 and Polynice, White, and Graham all chipped in 15.
Alabama — The Crimson Tide had a lackluster first half against the North Florida Ospreys and trailed by a single point at the break. Alabama used a 35-11 second half blitz in the second half to pull away for their fifth win in seven games. Tony Mitchell led the Tide with 17 points but left the game in the second half with a swollen knee. Mikhail Torrance threw in 15 points to secure the 73-51 win. Alabama is quickly becoming the surprise team in the SEC as they improved their record to 6-2 with a 74-46 rout of Louisiana-Monroe. You can say that the Tide has a soft schedule, but their last two have been blowouts, and they possess a win over previously-ranked Michigan. In that win over ULM, JaMychal Green had 12 points and Mitchell showed no ill effects of his knee injury with 8 rebounds.
Mississippi State — The Bulldogs had a very easy week as they had just one game, obliterating Saint Bonaventure, 105-53. All five of the Bulldog starters scored at least 13 points, they blocked 10 shots as a team, and they outrebounded the Bonnies 42-28. Ravern Johnson had 18 points, while Kodi Augustus and Dee Bost each threw in 17.
LSU — The Tigers tried to rebound from last week’s horrid play with a tougher than expected 66-58 win over Louisiana-Lafayette. While the overall effort was lacking, the Tigers got stellar performances from Tasmin Mitchell (26 points, 10 boards) and Storm Warren (18 points, 16 boards).
Auburn — On Tuesday, these Tigers got scoring from 13 players and turned in a complete and solid effort on the road as they romped past Alabama A&M, 87-52. Lucas Hargrove had a monster half with 23 points on 10-12 shooting and added 13 boards. Senior guard Tay Walter made his return from injury and had 13 points in his first game back. In an almost unbelievable stat line, freshman Ty Armstrong had 8 points and 12 rebounds…in just five minutes of action. Later in the week on Friday, Auburn could not overcome a 39% shooting night and fell to the Troy Trojans for the first time ever, 81-77. Frankie Sullivan had 18 points and four of Auburn’s eight 3-pointers. Auburn rebounded from the Troy loss last night with a nice 68-67 win over Virginia. Brendan Knox tipped in a missed DeWayne Reed layup with 1.4 seconds left to give the Tigers the win. Reed had 18 points for Auburn and the Tigers dominated on the boards, 33-24.
Arkansas -- The Razorbacks opened some eyes last year after they upset Oklahoma, but this year would not be a repeat. The Hogs died by the 3-pointer on Wednesday, hitting just 3-18 from beyond the arc and watched Oklahoma stretch a seven-point halftime lead into a 67-47 victory. Marshawn Powell had 12 points to lead the Hogs and Rotnei Clarke added 11, despite 1-6 3-point shooting. On Saturday, the Razorbacks finally got a feel-good blowout win over the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils, 91-54. Arkansas used a huge advantage in rebounds (40-25) and a 51.6% shooting night to rout the Devils. Jemal Farmer led the Hogs balanced attack with 18 points. This has been a sort of a “reunion tour” season for arkansas coach John Pelphery. He played his former coach Rick Pitino earlier this year and in this game, squared off against former UK teammate Sean Woods, who coaches the Devils. Last night, Arkansas used a big night by Powell (21 points, 9 boards) to handily beat Delaware State, 71-53. Arkansas now has back-to-back wins for the first time since January and won easily with an odd stat line that saw them shoot 65.9% from the field but just 45% from the free throw line.