Impressions From the SEC’s Thursday Games

Posted by Greg Mitchell on November 21st, 2014

Yesterday was a busy day in the always-interesting world of SEC basketball. Kentucky and Florida were both idle, but the league still managed to go 5-1 with the only blemish being Texas A&M’s loss in an ugly game against Dayton. That’s a successful day considering Dayton sits respectably at #50 in KenPom’s latest ratings and the SEC has already taken its fair share of lumps this year. Small steps, people. Here are a handful of thoughts from yesterday’s action.

Anthony Grant may have the personnel to run an effective zone this season (

Anthony Grant may have the personnel to run an effective zone this season (

  • Alabama flashes defensive potential against Southern Miss. We can finally mention Southern Miss on this microsite without discussing Donnie Tyndall. The story of this game, won by Alabama 81-67, was the potential of its defense. The Crimson Tide are flush with long, versatile guys this season who can play both on the perimeter and in the post. Anthony Grant ran a lot of 1-3-1 zone against the Golden Eagles, and while it didn’t exactly flummox them as they scored a point per possession, the strategy could turn into a nice season-long weapon for Alabama. Consider the personnel in Grant’s rotation: Levi Randolph (6’5’’), Rodney Cooper (6’6’’), Shannon Hale (6’8’’), Jimme Taylor (6’10’’), Michael Kessens (6’9’’) and Riley Norris (6’7’’). All of these guys are either natural wings or can hold their own on the perimeter. Ricky Tarrant also looked at home in picking up three steals out of the zone. It worked last night largely because the Golden Eagles went 8-of-29 from three, but it’s something for opponents to think about going forward.

  • Texas A&M misses an opportunity against Dayton in Puerto Rico. There’s no getting around it, this was an ugly, ugly game. Both teams scored in the mid-50s (55-53) and neither team shot better than 36 percent from the floor. The Aggies did some nice things like holding the Flyers to 2-of-18 shooting from three and beating them on the glass by 18 total boards. Still, it wasn’t enough to overcome a poor offensive outing as Texas A&M missed a great chance at an early resume-enhancing win. The most frustrating part was that the players Billy Kennedy should be able to rely on struggled. Alex Caruso and Jordan Green did not take care of the ball and Jalen Jones, who will have to shoulder a decent amount of the Texas A&M offense this year, took only four shots in 28 minutes.
  • The Ole Miss guards have been a mixed bag. Coming into this season I was bullish on the Rebels’ backcourt potential. Jarvis Summers was named to the coaches’ and media’s All-SEC First Team and after a rough outing in the loss to Charleston Southern has played as expected. Andy Kennedy, however, needs more from first-year Rebels Stefan Moody, Terence West and Rod Lawrence. West, the most experienced of the trio, has scored just nine points in 56 minutes of action, while Lawrence has scored just seven points in 47 minutes. Moody, on the other hand, has recovered from a bad showing in the season opener to score 27 points over the last two games, and has played with the pace and athleticism that made him the Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year two years ago. Finally, Martavious Newby has been a pleasant surprise for Ole Miss — the junior has been contributing on the glass and shooting the ball well from three.
  • South Carolina bounces back. The Gamecocks narrowly missed picking up a momentum-building win against Baylor on Tuesday, so to come back just two days later and dominate a Cornell team that they should dominate shows they are resilient and buying into Frank Martin’s program. The Gamecocks never let the Big Red get anything going offensively, holding them to just 0.66 points per possession and forcing 17 turnovers. Sindarius Thornwell had his best shooting performance of the young season, getting the Gamecocks going by scoring 10 of the team’s first 12 points. Duane Notice, however, continued to be quiet offensively, and Martin needs him to perform if South Carolina is going to make a leap in the conference hierarchy this season.
Greg Mitchell (@gregpmitchell) (231 Posts)

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