SEC Stock Watch: 02.06.15 Edition

Posted by David Changas on February 6th, 2015

We’re at the halfway point of conference play, and things are starting to take shape in the SEC. It’s time for our weekly look at who’s trending up, who’s staying flat, and who’s headed in the wrong direction. This is SEC Stock Watch.

Trending Up

  • Rick Ray’s Job Status. A few weeks ago, we wondered whether Mississippi State could win even a single game in the SEC. At the halfway point of conference play, the Bulldogs are just a game under .500, and are coming off of their first road win of the season. Ray’s club appears to have turned a bit of a corner, and things are looking good for him to earn a fourth year at the school.
Rick Ray is finally giving Mississippi State fans a glimmer of hope (Spruce Derden/USA Today)

Rick Ray is finally giving Mississippi State fans a glimmer of hope. (Spruce Derden/USA Today)

  • Ole Miss’ NCAA Tournament Hopes. The Rebels have quietly recovered from a couple of bad non-conference homecourt losses (to Charleston Southern and Western Kentucky), and have won four in a row in the SEC. They own blowout wins at Arkansas and Missouri, a near miss at Kentucky, and are 6-3 in conference play. Andy Kennedy’s team is squarely in the discussion for one of the league’s NCAA Tournament bids.
  • Andrew Harrison. Perhaps it’s a bit premature to put the Kentucky sophomore on this list, but Harrison had his best game of the season in the Wildcats’ win over Georgia Tuesday, as he scored 23 points, had seven assists, and went 3-of-6 from three-point range. Perhaps all of the talk about  Kentucky’s freshmen guards, Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis, has motivated Harrison, and his performance against the Bulldogs is a good sign for John Calipari.
  • Riley LaChance. The Vanderbilt freshman has been a find for Kevin Stallings, but he went through a rough patch recently and bottomed out when he went scoreless in the Commodores’ loss to Georgia on January 27. He has righted the ship, and led the team with 15 in Tuesday’s win over Florida, which broke Vanderbilt’s seven-game losing streak. For the Commodores to have success in the second half of league play, they’ll need superb play from LaChance.

Flat

  • Georgia. We won’t beat the Bulldogs up too badly for losing their last two, both of which came on the road. They competed without leading-scorer Marcus Thornton in their loss at Kentucky Tuesday, as the game was a single-digit affair most of the way. With Thornton expected back for a relatively easy stretch coming up that includes three of their next four at home, Mark Fox’s team needs to do everything it can to solidify a spot in the Big Dance.
  • Arkansas. The Razorbacks have been notoriously bad on the road under Mike Anderson, and a controversial call cost them a chance to win in Gainesville Saturday, but they righted the ship with a 75-55 trouncing of South Carolina in Fayetteville on Wednesday. With a home game against Mississippi State and a trip to Auburn coming up this week, the Razorbacks need to take care of business and start their push towards March.
  • Danuel House. The Texas A&M guard was named SEC Player of the Week on Monday, but laid an egg in the Aggies’ loss at Ole Miss on Wednesday. House went 2-for-11 from the field and scored six points in the game. A&M is too limited offensively to overcome nights like that from House, and he needs to quickly regain his form.

Trending Down

  • Confidence in Johnny Jones. The LSU coach secured a two-year extension from the school in October, and has recruited at a high level. This has not prevented his team from losing to conference lightweights Missouri (the Tigers’ only win), Mississippi State, and Auburn. This is a team that should easily make the NCAA Tournament and should be playing for seeding, but at 5-4 in league play, the Tigers are anything but a lock at this point.
Johnny Jones has not gotten the most out of his LSU squad (nola.com)

Johnny Jones has not gotten the most out of his LSU squad (nola.com)

  • Tennessee’s NCAA Tournament Hopes. We don’t think it was ever realistic to think that the Volunteers were a legitimate contender for a bid, but they had overachieved on the season before Tuesday’s crushing home loss to Mississippi State. Donnie Tyndall’s squad now faces a gauntlet of a schedule in the second half of league play, and finishing .500 in the SEC would be an accomplishment.
  • Anthony Grant. Things don’t look good for Grant to get another season in Tuscaloosa. Alabama is 4-5 in SEC play at the halfway mark – albeit, two of those losses came against Kentucky – and attendance is dwindling. With Bruce Pearl set to turn things around at Auburn, it will take a yeoman’s effort from Grant and his team for the sixth-year coach to earn a seventh season.
  • Missouri. The Tigers are simply woeful. They have one conference win — the league opener against LSU — and don’t appear to have more than two or three league wins in them. Coach Kim Anderson likely didn’t realize how tough of a situation he stepped into, but there is no doubt that he’s ready for his first season in Columbia to end.
  • Florida’s NCAA Tournament Streak. The Gators have been to at least the Elite Eight in the past four seasons. At this point, simply making the Big Dance would be quite an accomplishment. At 5-4 in league play and 12-10 overall, Billy Donovan’s team does not have the resume to earn a bid, and with two games against Kentucky forthcoming, it’s imperative that they somehow win one of those to give the selection committee something to think about.
David Changas (157 Posts)


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