SEC Morning Five: 12.28.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 28th, 2011

  1. SEC Men’s Player of the Week honors went to LSU’s Ralston Turner this week for his impressive play in beating 10th ranked Marquette. He scored 22 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting. For the week, Turner averaged 15 points, 4.5 rebounds and one steal per game. Florida’s Bradley Beal took home another SEC Freshman of the Week award for his 21-point performance against Florida State. He averaged 17 points, six rebounds, two steals and one assist per game for the week. This was the third time Beal has won the award, which is especially impressive considering the freshmen class in the SEC this year.
  2. Kentucky’s Eloy Vargas is patiently biding his time until he gets an opportunity to play significant minutes for the Wildcats. “Coach is telling me I will get my time to shine,” Vargas said. “I am thinking about the future because some people will be in foul trouble, be hurt or not be tough enough and this is how you will come out for a big game. My chance will come. I just have to be ready for it.” Vargas has accepted his role as a rebounder and defensive presence on Kentucky’s front line. He grabbed seven rebounds against Samford last week while power forward Terrence Jones was out with an injury. Somewhat surprisingly, Vargas is Kentucky’s highest ranked player in both offensive (13.5%) and defensive rebounding (24.5%) percentage.
  3. Kentucky freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist received a police escort after the Wildcats’ game against Loyola on Thursday to make a flight to be home with his ill mother who was hospitalized on Wednesday evening. Kidd-Gilchrist and Kentucky coach John Calipari decided that he would stay in Lexington to play the game and then go home, but Kidd-Gilchrist says he was thinking about being in New Jersey. “It was hard. I mean, it’s my mother,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “But it’s fine now, so it’s all good.” When you are as talented as Kidd-Gilchrist, perhaps it is easier to mentally check out but still score 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists as he did on Thursday.
  4. Kentucky would like to renew its series with Indiana so long as the series returns to neutral site games. Prior to 2006, the series alternated between Indianapolis and Louisville, and that is UK’s preference at this time. You may remember that the UK head coach has publicly questioned if Kentucky will be able to continue all of its current rivalries. Next year, both Texas A&M and Missouri join the SEC (wait, Missouri DID finally confirm its acceptance into the SEC, right?) and that means that the conference could add additional conference games into the regular season schedule. Calipari hinted that Kentucky will likely drop one of its highly competitive non-conference games (Louisville, North Carolina or Indiana), and it appears that Indiana is not at this time one of the dropped teams.
  5. Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin says that SEC teams shouldn’t be sleeping on the Volunteers this season. “You’ve got a team here that’s trying to find it’s way; you can’t overlook anyone,” Martin said. “I don’t think we’ve hit our stride as a unit.” In the Volunteers’ six losses, their largest loss was to Duke in the Maui Invitational by 10. UT has been competitive in every games this year. And help is on the way. Martin expects mid-season signee Jarnell Stokes to qualify academically, and to begin playing immediately. “It’s coming in here, and making sure his conditioning is where it needs to be,” Martin said. “As a coach it’s my responsibility to put him in situations where he can be successful. So you see where he does well and what his strengths are. He’s hungry to play.” Stokes is the 14th ranked prospect in RSCI’s Class of 2012 rankings, and is sure to help the Vols overcome many of these close losses. While Tennessee may still finish near the bottom of the conference standings, it would be short-sighted to think the Vols won’t pull a major upset or two in conference play.
Brian Joyce (333 Posts)

Brian Joyce is an advanced metrics enthusiast, college hoops junkie, and writer for the SEC basketball microsite for Rush the Court.

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