SEC Morning Five: 02.28.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on February 28th, 2012

  1. Kentucky’s Anthony Davis was named SEC Player of the Week for his demonstrative performances against Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. Davis averaged 20.5 points, 11 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, and two steals including a career-high 28 points to go with 11 rebounds against the Commodores. Kentucky’s freshmen swept the awards this week as Wildcat Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was named the SEC Freshman of the Week. Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 13 points, nine rebounds, two assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.5 steals. He scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Kentucky’s win in Starkville.
  2. Despite the loss on Saturday, Vanderbilt was encouraged with its play against the #1 team in the land, the Kentucky Wildcats. “We got down 10 and I thought our guys really showed some courage coming back and getting the game back to where it was,” Commodores coach Kevin Stallings said. While winning is the measure of any good team, Vanderbilt has to feel good about playing tough in Rupp Arena where the Cats have won 51 straight. “They’ve had their way with most people in here,” Stallings said. “We lost but the game was a game for 38 or 39 of the 40 minutes.” Vanderbilt’s experience in a hostile environment in Rupp, albeit during a loss, could give the ‘Dores the confidence they need going into March that they can play with anyone in the country.
  3. Tennessee freshman Jarnell Stokes is still adjusting to the college game, after he became eligible for the Volunteers during mid-season. Vols coach Cuonzo Martin, for one, is impressed with Stokes’ progress. “Jarnell has a good pace to his game; he doesn’t rush, he does a good job reading the defense, and for his size, he has good footwork and quickness,” Martin said. “You’re asking a kid that should still be in high school kid to come in and play at the SEC level against great competition without a preseason or the 14 games before league play.” As good as Stokes has been for Tennessee this season, even mid-season form is a scary thought for Vols’ opponents.
  4. Without the physical nature of forward Will Yeguete, Florida struggled on the defensive end in its loss to Georgia on Saturday. “We got hung up on screens and did not do a great job defensively at all,” coach Billy Donovan said. The Gators let the Bulldogs shoot 52.9 percent from the field, while being outscored by Georgia 38-26 in the paint. “There is an immaturity in understanding the other team’s guys are on scholarship. The other team’s guys are preparing hard,” Donovan said. Field goal percentage defense has been an especially important measure for Donovan’s Gators. Florida has given up over 50% shooting three times this season (at Tennessee, at Kentucky, and at Georgia), and all three games ended up as losses for the Gators.
  5. Mississippi State Bulldogs has been unraveling late in conference play. After appearing to be one of the surprise teams of the season with their solid play throughout the early going, the Bulldogs are on an alarming five game losing streak. “It’s real disappointing because I just see our season slipping away right in front of our eyes,” forward Arnett Moultrie said. “All we need is one win. I believe we’ll be able to get on a winning streak.” The players, obviously, aren’t taking this situation lightly.  “It’s real disappointing,” point guard Dee Bost said. “It isn’t fun. It’s not exciting.” Luckily for the Dogs, postseason success is most often the standard for which teams are measured and Mississippi State still has time to turn this season around.
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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