Checking in on… the SECPosted by Brian Goodman on January 25th, 2011
Jared Quillen is the RTC correspondent for the SEC.
A Look Back
Interestingly, Kentucky coach John Calipari cursed at Terrence Jones repeatedly during a time-out in Kentucky’s 66-68 loss to Alabama, and ESPN got the whole thing, audio not included. While it was largely a non-issue until Calipari issued an apology, it was later discussed on “Around the Horn,” perhaps the most boring show in sports, and “Pardon the Interruption.” While some have blown it out of proportion, others have regarded the whole situation as silly, saying that Calipari had no need to apologize. That’s just coachspeak.
I have to appreciate what Coach Cal did. His apology was completely unrequested and unforced, but he felt the need to say something and in this day and age of so much coarse language, unrepentant vitriol and media-induced faux-apologies, it is refreshing to see someone who realizes that he did something inappropriate giving a sincere apology without any pressure to do so simply because his conscience told him to do it.
More news from Vols camp involves Tennessee’s Renaldo Woolridge shooting his own music video at a bar and he not paying for the time that he was there filming, an action that could theoretically constitute an NCAA violation. However, Woolridge was cleared of wrongdoing after an internal investigation into the matter. Tennessee isn’t exactly in the good graces of the NCAA right now, so this figures to be one less headache from the higher-ups.
To follow up on Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury’s comment last week that he doesn’t feel there is that much difference between the SEC East and West, the East is now 82-29 to the West’s 64-49 and is winning by an average margin of 9.2 points per game to the West’s 3.5. Furthermore, the East is now 9-3 in head to head matchups against the West.
- Kentucky (15-4, 3-2) Kentucky continues to have trouble on the road. All four of the Wildcats’ losses have come at road or neutral sites, and while the Alabama loss doesn’t look good, they took care of business at South Carolina to get a good win in a tough environment.
- Vanderbilt (14-4, 2-2) Vanderbilt went 2-0 this week with an 84-74 win over Mississippi and a good win over West Coast Conference leader Saint Mary’s. A great week for the Commodores, but not quite enough yet to knock Kentucky off its perch at the top of the power rankings.
- Florida (15-4, 4-1) I want to say that Florida is looking good at 4-1 in conference, especially after pasting Arkansas 75-43, but they only shot 28.3 percent from the field including 5-26 from three… against Auburn, and the game was tied with under two minutes to play. Starting guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton combined to go just 6-28 from the field. Not a good sign. Auburn is probably the only BCS conference team in the country against whom you can shoot 28.3 percent and still win. Step it up Gators.
- Georgia (14-4, 3-2) The Bulldogs posted a two-point loss to the ever-enigmatic Tennessee Volunteers and then pasted the mess that is Mississippi State. 1-1 against the two most disappointing teams in the SEC is nothing to get overly excited about, but nothing to panic over yet either as Joe Lunardi has Georgia in the NCAA Tournament in his latest bracketology.
- South Carolina (12-6, 3-2) The Gamecocks continue to be a feisty bunch getting a win over Arkansas and then forcing Kentucky to flinch by closing what was an 18-point second half deficit to just five with 1:16 to play. And can I just say right now, Bruce Ellington is not the next Devan Downey. Bruce is his own man, and though he posts near identical stats to Downey, when all is said and done, he will be the better player. Coach Darrin Horn is putting things together in Columbia and his recruiting Ellington is just one piece of the puzzle.
- Alabama (12-7, 4-1) Alabama is certainly moving up after getting a nice win against Kentucky, but that loss to St. Peter’s might be too much for the selection committee to bear and right now, Joe Lunardi agrees. Despite Alabama’s recent winning ways, it’s going to take some kind of a special conference season to make the NCAAs.
- Tennessee (12-7, 2-2) The win at Georgia is nice. The loss to Connecticut is acceptable, but a win would have really helped to get the Volunteers’ minds back in the right place now that conference play is heating up. The Volunteers did hold Kemba Walker to a season-low 16 points. There’s something to be said for that I guess when you consider some of the teams Connecticut has played this year.
- Arkansas (12-4, 2-3) Conference play started well for the Razorbacks, but then they had to face a couple of SEC East teams. This week, the Hogs posted a seven-point loss to South Carolina and an embarrassing thirty-two point loss to Florida in a game that was not entirely dissimilar to their ugly loss to Texas just prior to conference play. It was tough to watch folks.
- Mississippi State (10-8, 2-2) With or without Renardo Sidney and Dee Bost, this team continues to disappoint. There is plenty of talent here between Sidney, Bost, Kodi Augustus and Ravern Johnson, but the Bulldogs still posted an embarrassing 86-64 loss to Georgia in their only game last week.
- Mississippi (13-7, 1-4) Hey, look who got a conference win, and on the road, no less. Of course it was at LSU, but if you’re Mississippi, you’re just repeating to yourself, “ A win is a win.”
- LSU (10-9, 2-2) The Tigers shot only 32.9 percent and were outrebounded 31-17 at home by Mississippi. That doesn’t bode well for upcoming games against Tennessee and Alabama. Of course both of those teams have shown they can beat or lose to any team in the nation, so maybe LSU goes 2-0 this week.
- Auburn (7-10, 0-5) Five straight losses is never fun. Getting close against Florida after playing your best defense all year is a heartbreaker. I’m rooting for the Tigers to get at least one win this week against Arkansas or South Carolina.
A Look Ahead
Florida @ Georgia, January 25. Neither of these two teams shoot well, so this could get ugly, but both of these teams have some good wins, so there is potential for this to be a fun competitive game.
Georgia @ Kentucky, January 29. This is the payback game. I don’t expect to see the Wildcats come out as flat as they did against Georgia in Athens, but the one thing that gives Kentucky trouble more than anything else is a team with a quality big man. Georgia just so happens to have one such big man in Trey Thompkins.