Checking In On… the SECPosted by Gerald Smith on December 14th, 2011
Gerald Smith (@fakegimel) is the RTC correspondent for the Southeastern Conference.
The Week That Was
- That’s Why You’re Mad: Kentucky was seeing red on Saturday as they dropped a game to Indiana. Coaches across the country (especially in the SEC) had a good look at the blueprint to upset Big Blue: Hot outside shooting, strong post play, and good interior defensive positioning to take charges on driving Wildcats. Much has been made about Terrence Jones‘ malaise and Marquis Teague‘s resurgence. Although the Wildcats have plenty of time to lick their wounds the pride of being the last undefeated SEC team was trampled by the Hoosier faithful rushing their court.
- Desperately Seeking 3-Goggles: Another SEC power-team also had its pride damaged last week. Dayton exploited Alabama’s weakness — awful three-point shooting — to pull off a 74-62 upset. Though the Crimson Tide’s next game yielded a better result (64-52 win over Detroit), the three-point shooting woes continued (2-15 vs. Detroit, 10-58 the last four games). Coach Anthony Grant was counting on one or more of his freshmen guards — Trevor Lacey, Rodney Cooper and Levi Randolph — to provide the outside shooting. None of them have risen to the challenge yet. Alabama will be particularly vulnerable to upsets from streaky-shooting teams until they find a solution to their outside shooting woes.
- Big: A pleasant surprise in the SEC this season has been the play of Mississippi State’s Arnett Moultrie. The transfer from UTEP, averaging 17.1 PPG and 11.2 RPG, is exceeding the expectations set for him. Unfortunately the 6’11″ forward is battling with knee tendinitis. He has missed three games for the Bulldogs, including yesterday’s 75-68 victory over FAU. Moultrie will hopefully be ready for Mississippi State’s next series of games which include two away games, including a tilt at #6 Baylor.
- Kentucky (8-1) — Another issue plaguing the Wildcats is finding a second three-point threat. Senior Darius Miller was expected to fill that role after shooting 44.3% 3FG last season. During preseason games, Miller debuted a new shooting motion which seemed to be even more accurate than his previous stroke. Applied in the crucible of the non-conference schedule, Miller’s shot hasn’t been falling (6-26, 23.1% 3FG). In six of Kentucky’s nine games, Miller has attempted at least one three-pointer and made none for the game; his Effective FG so far this season (50.7%) is down from last year (57.0%) and is buoyed by Miller’s improved dribble-penetration. The forward will need to recapture his three-point accuracy in order to provide his team that extra punch necessary to defeat compact zone defenses.
- Mississippi State (10-1) — Freshman Rodney Hood is seemingly overshadowed by the strong play of Arnett Moultrie and senior guard Dee Bost. Yet Hood’s productive contributions are no less important in powering the Bulldogs’ offensive attack. The 6’8″ forward is averaging 12.9 PPG from both the inside and out (62.5% effective FG). Hood has been a consistant contributor by scoring no less than seven points in every game. Watch for Hood to exploit defensive match-ups against Baylor and contend for SEC Freshman of the Year honors.
- Florida (7-2) — A freshmen we are all already watching is Bradley Beal. Averaging 15.1 PPG will draw attention! He should also be lauded for his impressive rebounding skills; despite being just 6’3″, Beal is averaging 6.6 RPG. Beal’s ability to find gaps to grab defensive rebounds and then start a fast break was a key reason why the Gators was able to nearly pull off the upset against Syracuse two weeks ago. If you caught yesterday’s SEC Morning Five, you knew that Beal was named this week’s SEC Freshman of the Week.
- Alabama (8-2) — One player averages 15.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG and is makes 25.8% of his points from the free throw line; the other player averages 15.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG and makes 23.3% of his points from behind the three-point line. Can you figure out which one of these players is Tony Mitchell and which is JaMychal Green? No Googling, cheaters!
- Mississippi (8-1) — Coach Andy Kennedy will have a new piece to use in his rotations. Former McDonald’s All-American Jelan Kendrick will be available for tonight’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette. The former Memphis player had many off-the-court issues before transferring to Ole Miss. How Kendrick will fit into a guard rotation that has been successful but fluxuating remains to be seen.
- Arkansas (5-3) — The Razorbacks missed 14 of their first 15 shots and shot just 34% from the field in a 78-63 loss at Oklahoma. Without scoring, Arkansas has no way to set up Mike Anderson’s full-court pressure defense. Scoring is going to be a problem that’ll carry over into the SEC season, despite the incredible efforts of BJ Young. The freshman guard scored 28 points (5-6 3FG) against UConn two weeks ago and 24 points (3-7 3FG) against the Sooners.
- Vanderbilt (6-3) — Vanderbilt’s next opponent is Longwood. Here with special preview commentary is Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head.
- LSU (6-3) — The Tigers’ current non-conference results make for interesting talking fodder for their chances to make the NCAA Tournament. Currently they are not projected in the 68-team field by ESPN. Although their losses at Coastal Carolina (8-1) and to Northwestern (7-1) on a neutral court don’t hurt too badly, their home loss to South Alabama is a disaster. A neutral-court win against Georgia Tech (6-4) and proper away victories at Houston (4-4) and Rutgers (5-5) aren’t exactly strong wins. With #11 Marquette and Virginia left on the schedule, LSU still has a chance to control their own post-season destiny.
- South Carolina (4-5) — The Gamecocks could use a wake-up call at the beginning of the game; the rooster crow played in Colonial Center isn’t doing the trick. South Carolina has scored over 30 points in the first half just twice in nine games played this season: 35 in their season-opening win over Western Carolina and 32 in the loss against North Carolina. Similarly South Carolina has held opponents to less than 30 points just three times (3-0 in those games). Coach Darrin Horn might want to get an expresso machine for the locker room before the next contest.
- Tennessee (3-5) — Coach Cuonzo Martin wants a defensive mindset from his players, which he has not been getting recently. Martin has enough talent and size that defensive effort will make the Vols dangerous in conference play. They have five more games to increase their defensive intensity before their rematch with in-state rivals Memphis.
- Auburn (4-1) — The Tigers took a vacation from non-conference play this week.
- Georgia (4-5) — The Bulldogs really wish they could take a vacation from non-conference play. A very long vacation.
SEC Monster of the Week
BJ Young gets the nod in a losing effort against Oklahoma last week. The freshman guard had 24 points (9-16 FG, 3-7 3FG, 3-4 FT), three assists, three steals and two turnovers in 32 minutes off-the-bench. If BJ was a monster from the 4th Edition rule set of Dungeons & Dragons, this is how he would be defined: