SEC Morning Five: 03.05.12 EditionPosted by Brian Joyce on March 5th, 2012
- Florida has lost three games in a row, but that doesn’t mean the Gators are lacking in confidence. “I don’t think our confidence is ever going to be a problem,” said Florida junior Erik Murphy, who added 14 points and tied a season high with eight rebounds. “We’ve got a bunch of confident guys on this team. We haven’t been playing too great and hopefully we can start putting it together.” The Gators are playing with effort, despite the results. “Whether you play hard or not, you’ve got to come out with the win,” Florida senior point guard Erving Walker said. “We’re in a one-and-done situation now, so we gotta figure this out.” Florida will have a bye into the second round of the SEC Tournament for the extra benefit of added practice time.
- The Florida players may not have come through against Kentucky, but the Gators’ fans came ready. Florida fans distributed this chant guide to organize the crowd’s heckling efforts against Kentucky players during Sunday’s game. But do Florida fans really need a guide to remember how to cheer? While it was a was a nice effort, Gator fans were really digging deep on this one. Needles? Wait, Anthony Davis has a unibrow? The heckling fell about as flat as the Gators defense on this Sunday afternoon.
- Tennessee is officially on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, but the Vols know they just need to focus on winning. “Whatever the numbers are, there’s nothing we can do but play games and win games,” UT coach Cuonzo Martin said on Sunday. “We control our own situation. Whoever we play against, all we can do is everything in our power to win that game.” Just how many games do the Vols need to win? “A win at the SEC tourney makes NCAA possible,” ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi said, “two wins makes it probable.” Tennessee gets the winner of Ole Miss and Auburn on Friday. The Vols have an RPI of 76 currently, and obviously have work to do in order to feel safe on selection Sunday.
- Some might argue that the Vols already have the look and feel of an NCAA Tournament team. The progress the Vols have made under Martin was obvious when Tennessee kept fighting on Saturday even when Vanderbilt cut the Vols’ second half lead to just two points. “That’s our growth as a team,” Tennessee point guard Trae Golden said. “Back in the day, at the beginning of the season, we probably would’ve lost the lead and lost the game.” Pundits can compare numbers like the RPI all day long, but sometimes a team has to pass the eye test. And Martin knows he has an NCAA team on his hands. “We’re changing the culture and defining what we expect,” he said.
- Ole Miss is also in the hunt for an NCAA berth with a solid showing in the SEC Tournament, but the Rebels will need Jelan Kendrick to make an impact. Kendrick didn’t play in the Rebels’ win on Saturday because of a coach’s decision. Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said he would “revisit” the situation before determining whether the troubled freshman will play in the SEC Tournament on Thursday. Saturday marked the third time that Kennedy chose not to play Kendrick even though he was eligible to play.