Checking in on… the SECPosted by jstevrtc on December 16th, 2009
Paul Jordan of Wildcat Blue Blog is the RTC correspondent for the Southeastern Conference.
- Kentucky 10-0
- Florida 8-1
- Tennessee 7-1
- South Carolina 6-2
- Vanderbilt 6-3
- Georgia 4-4
- Mississippi 8-1
- Mississippi State 7-2
- LSU 6-2
- Alabama 6-3
- Auburn 5-4
- Arkansas 4-5
It was a very slow week in the SEC as three teams did not see any action at all. Kentucky and Mississippi State represented the SEC well in the SEC/Big East Invitational while Florida and Georgia lost their matchups. Both Mississippi teams have been coming on strong and supplying some firepower to the West; Tennessee has only one setback and they should challenge UK all season. The big story for the rest of the year will be the race to 2000 wins between UK and North Carolina. Kentucky has pretty much assured themselves of being the first team to break the 2000-win plateau as they currently have 1998 wins to 1992 for UNC.
Speaking of Kentucky, John Wall won the SEC Freshman of the Week award for the fourth straight week as Wildcats have won the award all five weeks thus far (Eric Bledsoe won it in week 1). Mississippi State’s Ravern Johnson was named SEC Player of the Week and averaged 21.5 PPG and 5.0 RPG.
Another team that I am beginning to think could play the role of darkhorse are the LSU Tigers. The key to their success has been Storm Warren. As a freshman, Warren was lost behind all the senior talent and averaged just 2.0 PPG and 1.8 RPG in 7.5 minutes a game. This year, he has blossomed as a starter and is averaging 16.6 PPG, 11.4 RPG, and almost 2 BPG.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR THIS WEEK:
It’s a slow start to the week for the SEC games as only Tennessee was in action on Tuesday, defeating Wyoming, 77-58. The games pick up near the end of the week and for the weekend. The most interesting matchups will be the Richmond Spiders at 7-2 going up against both South Carolina and Florida. Kentucky should also wrap up win #1999 at Rupp Arena on Saturday against Austin Peay. Here are the other notable matchups:
- 12/16 – Richmond (7-2) @ South Carolina (6-2) – 7 PM
- 12/16 – UTEP (5-0) @ Mississippi (8-1) – 8 PM
- 12/17 – Auburn (5-4) @ Florida State (7-2) – 7 PM
- 12/19 – Tennessee (7-1) @ USC (4-4) – 4:30 PM – FSN
- 12/19 – Richmond (7-2) @ Florida (8-1) – 6:30 PM – METRO PCS ORANGE BOWL CLASSIC @ SUNRISE, FL
- 12/19 – Kansas State (9-1) @ Alabama (6-3) – TBD
- 12/19 – Illinois (8-2) @ Georgia (4-4)
TEAM UPDATES (ratings are AP, ESPN/USA Today)
Kentucky (#3, #3) — John Wall scored 12 of Kentucky’s last 15 points in a classic battle versus #12 Connecticut at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Kentucky was down six at the half, but rode Wall’s 25 and Patrick Patterson’s 16 points to get the win, 64-61. This game was part of the SEC/Big East Invitational. On Saturday, Kentucky used a 18-0 blitz in the second half to break open a close game at Bloomigton and Kentucky defeated the Indiana Hoosiers, 90-73. Eric “The Other Freshman” Bledsoe scored 23 points on 8-10 shooting and the always steady Patterson had 19 points and 11 boards. While Wall just had 11 points, he did have eight assists and no turnovers, and UK is 10-0 for the first time since the 1992-93 season.
Florida (#13 , #13) — The Gators had a chance to announce their arrival back among college basketball’s elite but fell to #6 Syracuse in the SEC/Big East Invitational. Kenny Boynton used the big stage to score 20 points, including five 3-pointers. Chandler Parsons added 19 points off the bench as the Gators fell, 85-73.
Tennessee (#9, #8) — J.P. Prince had 17 points to lead a big second half surge and help Tennessee pull away from MTSU in the Sun Belt Classic. Tennessee led by just seven at the half, but pulled away in the second half for a 75-54 win. Bobby Maze scored 12 points to help the Vols improve to 7-1 on the season. As noted above, UT beat Wyoming last night, 77-58, after leading by only one point at the half. They were led by Scotty Hopson’s 14 points on 7-12 shooting.
South Carolina — No games for the Gamecocks this week, but they are still waiting to find out when Dominique Archie may be rejoining the team. The latest word still was that he would be out indefinitely, and that was almost three weeks ago.
Vanderbilt — Vanderbilt celebrated it’s re-emergence to the Top 25 by promptly getting dumped by Illinois, 79-68. The Illini built a 10 point halftime lead that lead stood up throughout the second half. Brad Tinsley and Jeffrey Taylor both had 12 points to lead the Commodores. Vanderbilt’s bad week continued in the Sun Belt Classic with a 76-69 loss to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. The Commodores look like a team in turmoil and Kevin Stallings even referred to his team as “a broken mess.” Starters A.J. Ogilvy and Jermaine Beal were benched for the start of the WKU game for “lack of effort.” Taylor scored 21 to lead the Commodores in that loss.
Georgia — Georgia had a chance for a high-profile victory in the SEC/Big East Invitational in NYC and was down only three at the half against St. John’s (6-1), who used a 20-11 second half streak to pull away and they won by a final margin of 66-56. Dwight Hardy had 12 points and DJ Kennedy added 11 off the bench to lead the Bulldogs.
Mississippi (#20, #25) — On Saturday, the Ole Miss Rebels struggled in the first half against McNeese State and were down 34-28 at the half. Chris Warren foiled any thought of an upset with four 3-pointers and 20 points as the Rebels stormed back for a 83-67 victory. Eniel Polynice and Zach Graham both had 12 points as the Rebels improved to 8-1.
Mississippi State — Mississippi State took advantage of the big stage of the SEC/Big East Invitational to destroy the DePaul Blue Demons, 76-45. The Bulldogs raced to a 35-15 halftime lead and took any suspense out of the second half. Ravern Johnson led the way with 14 points, and Jarvis Varnado had another double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds. The Bulldogs held DePaul to a 28.1% shooting day and dominated the boards, 46-32. Johnson had 29 points on 12-15 shooting as the Bulldogs capped a very strong week on Saturday with a 72-54 thumping of UCLA at the Wooden Classic. Varnado was his usual consistent self with 13 points, 11 boards, and 7 blocks.
Alabama — The Crimson Tide had the #5 Purdue Boilermakers right where they wanted them, leading them 48-32 in the second half. The Tide went cold, however, and had just three field goals over the last 14:00 and none in the last 8:45 as Purdue denied ‘Bama a huge upset with a 73-65 come-from-behind win. Mikhail Torrancae, JaMychal Green, and Justin Knox scored 18, 16, and 14 points, respectively, in front of a racous crowd that had been celebrating Mark Ingram’s Heisman Trophy win.
LSU — The Tigers continued the trend of SEC teams playing poorly in the first half against an inferior opponent and then storming back in the second half for the win; LSU trailed Northwestern State on Saturday by a score of 35-29 at the half and then broke away in the second half for a 73-62 win. The Tigers counted on the duo of Tasmin Mitchell and Storm Warren for 45 of their 73 points. Mitchell poured in 24 points while Warren had a career high 21 points and added 16 rebounds. On Monday, both Mitchell and Warren had double-doubles as LSU defeated Southeast Louisiana, 77-60, after leading by just three at the half. Mitchell had 24 points and 18 boards while Warren had 14 points and 12 boards. Bo Spencer also had 21 for LSU.
Auburn — No games for the Tigers this week, but they are preparing for an interesting matchup against the Florida State Seminoles on Thursday Night.
Arkansas — No games for the Razorbacks this week, but the big news is whether or not Courtney Fortson will ever see the floor again. He has been on “indefinite suspension” all season. Stefan Welsh had also received a similar sentence before the season, but it only lasted three games in his case.