SEC Morning Five: 1.04.12 EditionPosted by Brian Joyce on January 4th, 2012
- Kentucky fans may compare Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to Superman, but he’s not completely immune to injury. Kentucky coach John Calipari says that Kidd-Gilchrist went to the locker room with a chest injury that he sustained during the Louisville game. “I don’t know if it is a pulled muscle or what in his chest area,” Calipari said in his postgame press conference. “It was last game that it happened but we are going to get him checked up and he didn’t feel right at halftime. I told them to give him some medicine to see if they could loosen it up. We will check on him tomorrow, but I think he will be fine.” Kidd-Gilchrist was injured in the Louisville game, but still suited up to play against Arkansas-Little Rock last night. The Superman comparison may not be too off base.
- Made free throws were a huge factor in Kentucky’s 69-62 win over Louisville. The Wildcats are not normally known for their accuracy at the charity stripe, but Calipari has made the team run sprints for every missed free throw the Cats shoot in a game. It obviously worked as Kentucky was a solid 32-42 from the line against the Cardinals. Over the last four games, the fear of running has propelled the Cats to shoot 77.2% from the stripe. An Achilles heel for almost every Calipari-coached team has turned into a positive for UK as of late. With Calipari’s critics no longer able to make fun of Kentucky’s free throw shooting, they are frantically writing new jokes as you read this.
- LSU lost on Monday night to a Top 25 Virginia team, but the Tigers received good news with the return of senior guard Andre Stringer. Stringer had sat out the previous five games with a head injury sustained in practice three weeks ago. He started the game, but was somewhat limited with 24 minutes of play and just eight points. “It was great to get back,” Stringer said. “I felt great afterward, but obviously it doesn’t feel too good right now.” Stringer admitted to feeling winded, and will work on improving his conditioning before SEC play. Stringer was LSU’s leading scorer before his departure. He is averaging 11.7 points, 2.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
- Somewhat quietly, Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli recently broke the school record for career blocks. Ezeli broke former Commodore Will Perdue’s former mark with the 158th block of his career against Miami (Ohio). Last season, Ezeli averaged 2.6 blocks per game, setting the single season record for the Commodores with 87. His defense will have a major impact on Vanderbilt’s ability to rebound, guard the post, and alter shots in the lane. Ezeli could give the ‘Dores some much needed consistency on both ends of the court as he is slowly working his way back into the lineup.
- Kenny Gabriel’s career night was mentioned in yesterday’s M5, but his 24 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocked shots deserves some more love here today. Gabriel accomplished a feat that nobody at Auburn before him has been able to do. “It’s pretty special, a triple-double,” coach Tony Barbee said. “When you consider the type of talent that has come out of this program, the Chuck Persons, the Charles Barkleys, the Wesley Persons, the Mike Mitchells, you can go down the line and this is the first triple-double in Auburn history? It’s special.” And to think, Gabriel almost didn’t play because of stomach issues. His 24 points and 13 rebounds both tied his career highs, and his 10 blocks was a career high by itself. Gabriel is averaging 12.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game on the season.