SEC M5: 12.27.12 EditionPosted by Brian Joyce on December 27th, 2012
- Did anybody really think Louisville center Gorgui Dieng wouldn’t play against Kentucky? Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino originally said Dieng wouldn’t play in the nationally-televised clash with Kentucky this Saturday — just last week, Pitino said, “Gorgui’s latest exam with the doctor didn’t go as well as my optimism was. The last X-ray we thought it would be healed, and it was not.” What a difference a week makes? Dieng recently practiced for the first time since injuring his wrist on November 23, and now Pitino and Dieng are hopeful he will be in the lineup to play against Kentucky’s big guys. “We’ll see how it goes today,” Pitino said. “And then we’ll make a decision.” The Kentucky and Louisville rivalry just wouldn’t be the same without a little pregame drama. Kentucky’s young bigs could struggle against a shot-blocking presence who rebounds as well as Dieng.
- Of course we will be inundated with Kentucky and Louisville previews this week to prepare for one of the biggest non-conference games on the slate, but if you’re looking for the key to the game it is probably in Kentucky’s defense. And thankfully, A Sea of Blue has us covered with an in-depth look at the Wildcats’ defense this year. As for the long and short of it, Kentucky is preventing opponents from shooting at the rim and not allowing three-point looks at a rate similar to last year’s team. That’s definitely a good thing going into a contest against a team that loves the three. Can Kentucky force Peyton Siva and Russ Smith to take contested shots from deep within the mid-range area? That question just might decide the game.
- Missouri beat its other border rival Illinois last weekend, and the Tigers are not taking a break to celebrate. Instead, Mizzou spent Christmas Day practicing instead of taking time off to be with family. “Our normal prep work is three days before a game,” head coach Frank Haith said. “Tomorrow’s a travel day, but we will get in in the morning and get some work done before we get on the plane, and then obviously, the day before when we get there, it’s a lot of shooting. That’s normal practice for us in terms of our prep work to get ready for a game.” Haith plans to give the team some time off after its game Friday against UCLA, which is great news for the players’ families who can buy them presents at half off in those day-after-Christmas sales.
- Laurence Bowers was named SEC player of the week for his outstanding performance against Illinois, finally getting some kudos from outside of the state of Missouri. But of course, he’s still getting some praise from within Columbia too. “He’s the truth; he can do it all,” said senior forward Alex Oriakhi. “It’s just a joy to play with him.” Bowers leads the team in scoring and field goal percentage and is second in rebounding average. His offensive rating and effective field goal percentage are both the highest of his career and among the best in the nation while taking almost 30 percent of the Tigers’ shots. Bowers’ continued development alongside Oriakhi in the post could be the key to Mizzou staying near the top of the SEC in its first season.
- What would the Christmas season be without dancing elves? And not just any dancing elves — this video has dancing elves with Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin’s head. Enjoy and happy holidays.