SEC Non-Conference Schedule Round-Up: Part IIIPosted by Christian D'Andrea on January 8th, 2014
As of Tuesday night, the SEC season is here, and we’ve been celebrating the start of conference play by running down the best and worst of the league’s early-season slate. On Friday and Saturday last week, we covered the first 70 percent of the league’s teams. Today, we’ll finish up our rundown of the SEC’s non-conference performances with the league’s alphabetical basement.
- Record: 7-6
- Best Win: Either a seven-point neutral-site victory over 10-3 St. Mary’s, or their rare, back-to-back wins over Akron in a three-day span.
- Lowest Point: Losing to in-state “rival” USC-Upstate after leading 33-16 late in the first half.
The Gamecocks’ continual rebuilding efforts have continued in 2013-14, but sloppy play has defined this team early on. Only three USC players are scoring in double-figures, and none of them shoot better than 41.1 percent from the field. USC’s offense will improve, as it always does, now that Bruce Ellington’s quest for Capital One Bowl glory is complete. However, his explosive scoring out of the backcourt may not be enough to keep the ‘Cocks over .500 this winter.
- Record: 10-4 (1-0)
- Best Win: A 15-point neutral-site victory over 10-3 Xavier.
- Lowest Point: Allowing UTEP coach Tim Floyd to work out his USC-related frustrations over them in the Battle 4 Atlantis opening round.
Jarnell Stokes continues to be a nice piece for Cuonzo Martin’s team, but he has yet to develop into the kind of player that can lead Tennessee back to the NCAA Tournament. He’s been a less efficient scorer as a junior, and while his rebounding and big-bodied defense are assets, the Vols need to get more out of him. Jordan McRae is an SEC Player of the Year candidate, but he’ll have to find the extra gear that made him a star in 2013 if he wants to rise to that honor.
- Record: 9-4
- Best Win: A 24-point home win over 6-4 Buffalo (!).
- Lowest Point: Losing by 20 to North Texas.
As of January 2, four of A&M’s eight non-conference wins had come against teams that combined for two total victories in 2013. The Aggies prepared themselves a cupcake schedule where either SMU or Oklahoma was their toughest opponent, and they still ended up with four losses. Billy Kennedy has some work to do in College Station.
- Record: 8-5 (0-1)
- Best Win: A 13-point home victory over 9-4 Georgia Tech.
- Lowest Point: Four losses in coin-flip games, including a squandered 16-point lead with under 10 minutes to go against Providence.
Vanderbilt has lost four games this season so far, but all have come against quality opponents. Unfortunately, they’ve all come despite the Commodores holding on to either a late lead or a chance to tie or win in the final minute. Newcomers Eric McClellan and Damian Jones have been solid in flashes for Vandy, but it’s clear that they miss Kevin Bright’s toughness and Kedren Johnson’s scoring ability on the floor.