SEC Quotable & Notable: Volume I

Posted by Greg Mitchell on January 29th, 2015

Periodically throughout the rest of the season, we will use this column to take a look at who’s making history and who’s saying what around the SEC. Here’s Volume I of what’s Quotable and Notable right now in college basketball’s Southern reaches.

“I just went strong to the hole.” Florida’s Dorian Finney-Smith on his game-winning dunk against Alabama.

No player in the country will have a minute as impressive and unlikely as Finney-Smith did in the final 60 seconds of Florida’s recent win against the Crimson Tide. His fierce drive and dunk ended up being the game-winner, and it was sandwiched around two crucial blocks: a body-straight-up rejection on Michael Kessens to keep the game knotted at 50, and a help defense block of Levi Randolph’s potential game-tying shot as time expired. This all coming after the junior had gone scoreless to that point.  Finney-Smith’s magical minute, which helped end Florida’s three-game losing streak, should be one of the highlights of Gators’ season.

Georgia is probably the second best team in the league and, by far, the most physical team.” Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray after his team’s loss to Georgia last weekend. “I thought they hurt us on the boards in the first half, but then you look down and see they hit 50 percent from the field in the second half and over 90 percent from the line… you can’t beat anybody like that.” Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings after Georgia hit 23-of-25 free throws and outrebounded the Commodores by 10 in an eight-point victory.

Georgia is taking on the feel of a team that can grind out wins, and in this league, that can be the key to a shiny conference record. Just take care of business. The Bulldogs squeaked by Mississippi State because of a Herculean effort from J.J. Frazier (37 points), and against Vanderbilt, they were sloppy with the ball (16 turnovers) but did enough elsewhere to control the game throughout. Neither win is all that impressive alone, but SEC teams have perfected the art of losing winnable games. The Bulldogs will end up in the NCAA Tournament if they have finally bucked that trend.

Notable: LSU forward Jordan Mickey‘s six blocks against South Carolina gave him 71 on the season and 177 rejections over his two-year career. This pushes him past Chris Johnson (176 career blocked shots) into second place all-time at LSU. Next up for Mickey? You guessed it, Shaquille O’Neal, who swatted 412 shots over his career in Baton Rouge. Theoretically Mickey is on pace to approach Shaq’s record if he were to stay four seasons, but smart money says he’ll be playing at the next level at some point sooner than later. Mickey reached the second spot in impressive fashion, blocking two shots in the last 15 seconds to preserve the Tigers’ hard-fought win over the Gamecocks.

Mickey tweet

“He is an important defensive player for us because he is a great communicator, he is quick, and he makes plays. It hurts when you don’t have him out there… it is his same shoulder that he hurt earlier. That shoulder hasn’t popped out in several weeks, so I am sure they are worried about it.” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl on Tahj Shamsid-Deen, who re-injured his shoulder in the Tigers’ loss to Texas A&M.

Shamsid-Deen simply hasn’t had a chance to grow this year. Pearl said before the season that he thought the sophomore was his most dynamic offensive player, but he injured his shoulder in the Tigers’ season opener and clearly hasn’t been 100 percent since. Sadly, it’s looking like a lost season for a player with a lot of talent and entertainment potential. If nothing else, the clip below of him “breaking” Alex Caruso’s ankles at the 0:30 second mark is fun (although in fairness it looks like more of a slip than anything else).

“I thought Danuel House was critical. He was the one making shots and obviously had the green light when he makes six threes.” Head coach Billy Kennedy on House’s shooting performance in Texas A&M’s win at Auburn.

House essentially won the day for Texas A&M in the first six minutes of the game. Before the 14-minute mark of the first half he had already hit four threes, putting the Aggies up 15-4. Auburn would cut the lead to 25-24 before the half, but was never able to  fully overcome that early hole. House’s development as a shooter is a boon for Kennedy’s team. Good shooters have a short memory, and House was coming off a 1-of-7 three-point outing against Tennessee. But he flipped the switch against the Tigers and went 6-of-7 from deep his next time out. His 39.8 percent season average is six percentage points better than last year, and as Kennedy said, he’s earned that green light.

Notable: Ole Miss’ Jarvis Summers did not score in the first half of the Rebels’ 79-72 Egg “Bowl” win over Mississippi State, but the senior dropped in 22 points in the second half, giving him over 1,500 points for his career. He is now 11th on the all-time Ole Miss scoring list, behind John Stroud (2,328), Joe Harvell (2,078), Chris Warren (2,021), Carlos Clark (1,822), Elston Turner (1,805), Justin Reed (1,785), Keith Carter (1,682), Joe Gibbon (1,601), Gerald Glass (1,564) and Don Kessinger (1,553). Kessinger (who went on to become a staple at shortstop for the Chicago Cubs in the ’60s and ’70s), Glass and Gibbon are in view, and a torrid stretch could allow Summers to catch Carter too. No matter what happens, we are watching one of the great players in Ole Miss basketball history. These are also significant points, as Joe Lunardi has the Rebels among the First Four Out in his latest bracketology.

Greg Mitchell (@gregpmitchell) (231 Posts)

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