SEC Tournament: Day Two Observations

Posted by David Changas on March 13th, 2015

It was an interesting second day of basketball at the SEC Tournament on Thursday. These are a collection of observations and thoughts from the day’s action, both on and off the court, in Nashville.


  • Alabama’s Jimmie Taylor looks to be a player with a bright future. Although he only averaged 5.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game this season, he matched his season- and career-high in scoring with 15 points against Florida on Thursday. It was his third consecutive game in double-figures. For a team that is not overly talented in the post, Alabama fans must hope the 6’10” sophomore can build on his performance next season. “[He] continues to show he’s going to be a force in the league for years to come,” head coach Anthony Grant said after the game.

    Anthony Grant may get another season on the bench after all. (AP/Mark Humphrey)

    Anthony Grant may get another season on the bench after all. (AP/Mark Humphrey)

  • Speaking of Grant, there was plenty of scuttlebutt about whether he will return for a seventh season despite having reached the NCAA Tournament only once in his first six. The prevailing sentiment around those close to the situation is that the Alabama administration likes and respects him — Florida coach Billy Donovan said as much in his postgame press conference after the victory — and that he likely will get another shot at coaching the Crimson Tide next season.
  • Auburn may have had a disappointing season but earning its first two SEC Tournament wins since 2010 is a step in the right direction for Bruce Pearl’s program. Without second-team all-conference guard KT Harrell on the floor, the Tigers would not be playing LSU in the quarterfinals. Harrell was terrific against Texas A&M, scoring a game-high 25 points and leading the Tigers to an improbable comeback victory.

  • In the midst of all the basketball in Nashville on Thursday, big SEC news broke that Greg Sankey was tabbed to take over as SEC commissioner when Mike Slive retires in July. The choice, not a surprise, was widely praised by the many of the league’s coaches. Slive leaves an impressive legacy in his wake, a big part of which is on display this week with the SEC Network broadcasting its first SEC Tournament, but there is no doubt that men’s basketball is one area in which improvement can be achieved.
  • Though the Wildcats don’t take the court until today at 1:00 PM ET, there is no question that Kentucky had more fans in attendance at both Thursday sessions than the participating teams had combined. Not that anyone who has followed the league for very long is at all surprised. Nashville figures to be a sea of blue all day today — and for the rest of the weekend, for that matter. Lower-level tickets for the afternoon session were running $500 apiece on the street outside Bridgestone Arena.
Josh Richardson refused to let Tennessee lose. (AP/Mark Humphrey)

Josh Richardson, who scored a game-high 22 points in an exciting victory over Vandy, simply refused to let Tennessee lose. (AP/Mark Humphrey)

  • The night session provided the most excitement of the second day. Vanderbilt held a 59-47 lead on Tennessee with 6:20 to play and looked to be in complete control as the Vols spent most of the second half in serious foul trouble. From that point, though, the Volunteers went on a furious 20-2 run to end the game, starting with a trio of threes from Robert Hubbs, Kevin Punter and Derek Reese. The comeback left the evenly-split crowd stunned, and it marked the third strange game between the intrastate rivals this year. In the first game at Vanderbilt, Tennessee overcame a five-point deficit with 16 seconds left to win in overtime. In the Knoxville game, Vanderbilt went 16-of-19 from the field and made its last 13 shots of the game to overcome a 13-point deficit. It was only fitting that Thursday’s meeting, the first between the rival schools in the SEC Tournament in 28 years, would end this way.
  • In the final and most bizarre game of the day, South Carolina pulled off the upset against Ole Miss, potentially knocking the Rebels from the field of 68. The Gamecocks led the Rebels by three points in the waning moments but fouled Jarvis Summers as he buried a three with 3.3 seconds left. Summers made the subsequent free throw, giving the Rebels an unlikely one-point lead. Inexplicably, Ole Miss then immediately returned the favor, as Ladarius White fouled Tyrone Johnson as he shot a three with 0.7 seconds left. Johnson coolly knocked down all three free throws, giving South Carolina the highly improbable 61-59 win. Ole Miss now must sweat out the next three days. The Rebels came into the game as one of Joe Lunardi’s last four byes but a loss to a team hovering around No. 100 in the RPI certainly will not help their case. South Carolina head coach Frank Martin thinks there should be no issue with the Rebels getting into the Big Dance. “Ole Miss better be in that Tournament, and not only be in it, but in it with a good seed,” he said after the game.
David Changas (166 Posts)

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