SEC NCAA Tournament Primer: South Region

Posted by EMoyer on March 22nd, 2012

On Friday night, Kentucky will play in its 23rd Sweet Sixteen, facing rival Indiana . Here we preview the game between the Wildcats and Hoosiers as well as the possibilities for the Wildcats in the Elite Eight.

SEC NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinal Capsule

South Region 

  • #1 Kentucky: Championship Appearances: 52; Record 109-47; Best Finish: Champion – 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998; How Qualified: At-Large, SEC; Last Appearance: 2011 – L, National Semifinal
  • #4 Indiana: Championship Appearances: 36; Record 62-30; Best Finish: Champion – 1940, 1953, 1976, 1981, 1987; How Qualified: At-Large, Big Ten; Last Appearance: 2011 – L, First Round
  • #3 Baylor: Championship Appearances: 7; Record 8-8; Best Finish: Runner Up  – 1948; How Qualified: At Large, Big 12; Last Appearance: 2010 – L, Elite 8
  • #10 Xavier: Championship Appearances: 23; Record 21-22; Best Finish: Elite 8 – 2004, 2008; How Qualified: At Large, Atlantic 10; Last Appearance: 2011 – L, Sweet 16
All-Time Meetings
  • Kentucky vs Indiana: Kentucky leads 31-24; Last Meeting: Dec. 11, 2011 (Indiana 73, Kentucky 72)
  • Kentucky vs Baylor: Kentucky leads 6-0; Last Meeting: Dec. 8, 1979 (Kentucky 80, Baylor 46)
  • Kentucky vs Xavier: Kentucky leads 37-2; Last Meeting: Nov. 30, 1968 (Kentucky 115, Baylor 68)
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SEC NCAA Tournament Primer: West Region

Posted by EMoyer on March 22nd, 2012

On Thursday night, Florida will play in its seventh Sweet Sixteen, facing Marquette . Here we preview the game between the Gators and Golden Eagles as well as the possibilities for the Gators in the Elite Eight. The West and the East are the two regions to feature four prior champions.

SEC NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinal Capsule

WEST Region 

  • #7 Florida: Championship Appearances: 15; Record 31-12; Best Finish: Champion – 2006, 2007; How Qualified: At-Large, SEC; Last Appearance: 2011 – L, Elite Eight
  • #3 Marquette: Championship Appearances: 30; Record 38-30; Best Finish: Champion – 1977; How Qualified: At-Large, Big East; Last Appearance: 2011 – L, Sweet Sixteen
  • #1 Michigan State: Championship Appearances: 26; Record 54-24; Best Finish: Champion  – 1979, 2000; How Qualified: Automatic Bid, Big Ten; Last Appearance: 2011 – L, Second Round
  • #4 Louisville: Championship Appearances: 38; Record 62-39; Best Finish: Champion – 1980, 1986; How Qualified: Automatic Bid, Big East; Last Appearance: 2011 – L, Second Round
All-Time Meetings
  • Florida vs Marquette: Marquette leads 2-0; Last Meeting: Dec. 10, 1977 (Marquette 81, Florida 67)
  • Florida vs Michigan State: Tied 3-3; Last Meeting: Nov. 27, 2009 (Florida 68, Michigan State 52)
  • Florida vs Louisville: Louisville leads 7-1; Last Meeting: Dec. 11, 2004 (Louisville 74, Florida 70)

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SEC Morning Five: 03.22.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on March 22nd, 2012

  1. After Shaka Smart turned down the Illinois job, another coach with VCU ties, current Alabama head coach Anthony Grant, emerged as a candidate for the position. According to The Chicago Tribune, “Athletic director Mike Thomas now will turn to his second-choice options, which include Alabama’s Anthony Grant and Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton, according to sources. Both are considered to have strong interest in the job…Thomas is believed to be pursuing high-profile candidates and African-American head coaches.”
  2. As Florida prepares for its Sweet 16 contest with Marquette, the desired pace of both schools should produce a high-scoring affair. “I think the game will certainly be a fast game,” said Florida coach Billy Donovan. “With the way we play and I think the way that they play, conditioning probably in both of our practices is a premium.” Florida and Marquette both average close to 76 points a game and rank among the nation’s top 30 scoring teams and among the top 30 most efficient offenses, according to
  3. Kentucky head coach John Calipari will identify the people who have given $2.5 million to help renovate the locker room complex at Rupp Arena, a university spokesman said Wednesday. “Coach plans to publicly recognize the donors in an appropriate fashion to thank them for their contributions in the near future,” spokesman Jay Blanton said in a statement. The plan shows a new circular locker room, a players’ lounge, a theater-style meeting room, and a new kitchen and dining area, among other upgrades. Funding for the $2.9 million project — $400,000 will be provided by Lexington Center — will be funneled through the Blue Grass Community Foundation, Owen said. Because the Lexington Center Corp. is a not-for-profit organization rather than a charitable entity, it can’t accept direct donations, and donors couldn’t take tax deductions.
  4. Auburn senior forward Kenny Gabriel will participate in the slam dunk portion of the State Farm College Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships on March 29 in Tulane’s Fogelman Arena at 8 p.m. on ESPN prior to the Final Four in New Orleans. “It is an honor because I never thought that I would be able to be in a dunk contest for college,” said Gabriel. “I am glad that I got the opportunity to do it. I hope to go down there and win it. I’m starting to work on my repertoire now.”
  5. As South Carolina continues its search for replacing Darrin Horn, one columnist, Ron Morris, from The State, writes that the Gamecocks need to pursue and hire a black coach. He writes, “Perhaps never in college basketball history has the opportunity been better and the number of qualified candidates greater for athletics departments to hire black men’s basketball coaches…USC is a little slow getting to this party. It remains one of four SEC programs — Florida, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt are the others — that have not employed a black men’s basketball coach.” By name, Morris mentioned Ohio State assistant Dave Dickerson (an Olar, South Carolina native) and Tennessee State’s John Cooper (assistant on Eddie Fogler’s staff from 1995 to 2001).
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SEC Morning Five: 03.21.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on March 21st, 2012

  1. On Tuesday night, the name of Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin emerged as a candidate for the vacant Illinois job. From Gail Fischer on “On the surface, Martin seems like an intriguing candidate. He’s from East St. Louis, Illinois, where he won two IHSA state championships and played at Purdue under Gene Keady and alongside Matt Painter where they made it to the Elite Eight in 1995. He knows the Big Ten well. Imagine Martin battling Painter year in and year out.  Illinois/Purdue would be a nice little rivalry. Martin’s entire coaching staff at Tennessee is from Illinois.”
  2. Mississippi State had made contact with Murray State head coach Steve Prohm about its head coaching vacancy. The Racers’ Athletic Director Allen Ward voiced concerns over some of the tactics used by Bulldog brass. “A search firm, on behalf of Mississippi State, reached out to Prohm last week to gauge his interest in the Mississippi State job — while the Racers were still in the middle of their season. Ward says no one from Mississippi State has contacted him for permission to speak with Prohm, although that is just a professional courtesy rather than a mandate considering Prohm still has three years left on his contract. ‘I think there’s a right way to do things,’ Ward said Tuesday. ‘Considering we were still playing — it is what it is.'”
  3. One of South Carolina’s top head coaching targets, Gregg Marshall of Wichita State, said through sources that he had yet to hear from the Gamecocks. Other candidates have emerged including Kansas State’s Frank Martin and Harvard’s Tommy Amaker. On the Martin front, he “has been confirmed as a candidate with “heavy” interest in USC,” according to a source close to the situation. Regarding Amaker, “the possibility of Amaker returning to the South was substantiated by college basketball expert Seth Davis, who tweeted: ‘I’m hearing that South Carolina has potential interest in hiring Harvard coach Tommy Amaker to fill its coaching vacancy’.”
  4. Kentucky head coach John Calipari said he’s not planning on using revenge as motivation when the Wildcats face Indiana. “I don’t ever teach anger, because the physiology of that is really close to fear,” he said. “So if you try to make your team angry, and things don’t go right, it turns to fear within their bodies. So I don’t do it. That was like a season ago. Literally four months (ago). That’s so long ago, I had to watch the tape again to remember anything.”
  5. As Florida prepares for Marquette, the Golden Eagles’ star Jae Crowder complimented the Gator offense, but pointed out where his team might find success. “They are a great offensive team,” Crowder said of Florida. “They lack a few things defensively. Of course, they bring great pressure in the frontcourt and try to get you rattled a little bit. I think if we handle that, we’ll get a lot of things we want offensively.”
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SEC Morning Five: 03.16.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on March 16th, 2012

  1. Mississippi State’s Rick Stansbury announced his retirement after 14 years in Starkville. Stansbury will continue to work at MSU in a yet-to-be-determined position, said athletic director Scott Stricklin. Accoring to the Clarion-Ledger report, Stricklin “didn’t rule out interviewing current MSU assistants for the job. ‘We’ll see; we’re wide open. I wouldn’t dismiss that idea.’” In that same piece, Dee Bost, the Bulldogs’ departing senior point guard, tweeted out an endorsement for long-time assistant coach Phil Cunningham. “Coach Stans retired,” tweeted Bost. “I think all alumni and fans should try to get Coach Cunningham as coach.”
  2. Vanderbilt won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2007. In a Tennesseean article by Michael Cass, he writes of a “banner year” for the Commodores and of some of the possible ramifications this year’s SEC title could bring. One Nashville native said, “For high school players, I don’t see how you can watch that (SEC championship game) and see the collection of talent Coach Stallings has put together and not want to be a part of it.” Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos said, “On such a big national stage, to have Vanderbilt, obviously one of the greatest academic institutions in the world, beat the No. 1 team, win a championship in the greatest athletic conference in the country, it brings a lot of benefit to the university.”
  3. Alabama‘s Friday opponent, Creighton, utilized a popular practice technique to help prepare for the Crimson’s Tides press defense.  “There’s times when we’ve had seven defenders out there guarding five,” said Doug McDermott, the Bluejays’ All-America sophomore forward. “Our scout team guys probably aren’t as athletic and don’t have as much length as their guys do.”
  4. Like Dwight Howard announced today, another big man from the Sunshine State announced he would be staying for additional year when Florida sophomore center Patric Young said in the locker room Thursday that he intends to come back for his junior season. “That’s the first that I heard of that,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “So that’s always great news. I think Patric has learned a lot this year. I don’t think this year was as easy for him as he thought it was going to be.”
  5. Western Kentucky head coach Ray Harper pointed out a facet of the game where the Kentucky Wildcats will have to improve if it hopes to win an eighth national title. “If they want to advance and win a national championship, they’re going to have to shoot the ball better from the perimeter,” Harper said. “They’re going to have to find somebody else that can make a shot from the perimeter.” The Wildcats have shot just 23.8% from the three-point arc going back to the start of the SEC Tournament and have not shot better than 30% in any of those four games. Doron Lamb is 4-for-15 in that stretch; Darius Miller is 2-for-12; Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague are a combined 0-6.
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SEC NCAA Tournament Primer: Thursday/Saturday Games

Posted by EMoyer on March 15th, 2012

On Thursday, Kentucky and Vanderbilt open their NCAA Tournament runs facing Western Kentucky and Harvard, respectively. Here we preview the Thursday/Saturday possibilities for the Wildcats and Commodores.

SEC NCAA Tournament Thursday/Saturday Capsules

SOUTH Region 

  • #1 Kentucky: Championship Appearances: 53; Record 107-47; Best Finish: Champion – 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998; How Qualified: At-Large, SEC; Last Appearance: 2011 – L, National Semifinal
  • #16 Western Kentucky: Championship Appearances: 22; Record 19-22; Best Finish: Third Place – 1971; How Qualified: Automatic Bid, Sun Belt Conference; Last Appearance: 2009 – L, Second Round
  • #8 Iowa State: Championship Appearances: 14; Record 12-13; Best Finish: Final Four  – 1944; How Qualified: At Large, Big 12; Last Appearance: 2005 – L, Second Round
  • #9 Connecticut: Championship Appearances: 47; Record 35-43; Best Finish: Champion – 1999, 2004, 2011; How Qualified: At Large, Big East; Last Appearance: 2011 – Champion
All-Time Meetings
  • Kentucky vs Western Kentucky: Kentucky leads 3-2; Last Meeting: Nov. 15, 2001 (Western Kentucky 64, Kentucky 52)
  • Kentucky vs Iowa State: Kentucky leads 2-0; Last Meeting: Mar. 22, 1992 (Kentucky 106, Iowa State 98)
  • Kentucky vs Connecticut: Connecticut leads 3-1; Last Meeting: April 2, 2011 (Connecticut 56, Kentucky 55)
A Starting 5 of the Top Players Kentucky Could Face
  • Derrick Gordon, Western Kentucky, Fr., G: Gordon has amassed 400 points in his first year as a Hilltopper. Only two freshmen have scored more points in Western Kentucky history (Courtney Lee, 467;  Ralph Crosthwaite, 437). He is on pace to become the first Hilltopper freshman to pace the team in scoring and he will be the first in five years to lead in rebounding.
  • Chris Allen, Iowa State, Sr., G: Allen leads the team with 72 3-point field goals and he has played in the most NCAA Tournament games (14) in this year’s 68-team field. Allen played in two Final Fours for Michigan State (2009, 2010.
  • Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut, So., G: Lamb earned First-Team All-Big East honors and the NABC District I Player of the Year after leading the Huskies in scoring at 17.1 points per game.
  • Royce White, Iowa State, So., F: White is the only player in the nation to lead his team in scoring (13.1), rebounding (9.2), assists (5.1), steals (1.2) and blocks (0.9). He is on the verge of posting top-10 single seasons in assists and rebounds in Cyclone history. He is one of 12 players in the county to post a triple-double this season.
  • Andre Drummond, Connecticut, Fr., C: Drummond has tallied 10 double-doubles this season, a UConn freshman record under Coach Jim Calhoun. He won four Big East Rookie of the Week honors, and leads the team in rebounding (7.7) and blocks (2.7).
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SEC Morning Five: 03.14.12

Posted by EMoyer on March 14th, 2012

  1. South Carolina’s Darrin Horn became the third head coach from a BCS school (joining Bruce Weber of Illinois and Doc Sadler of Nebraska) to lose his job this month. South Carolina fired Horn after four seasons in Columbia. He could not build on his 21-10 first season and interest in the team sagged. Quoting the AP account of the story “average paid attendance this season was 8,900 people in the 18,000-seat Colonial Life Arena – down about 1,500 fans – with most games seeing less than half of the announced number actually in the stands.”
  2. David Cloninger from speculated on possible replacements, writing, “The hot name on several lips to replace Horn is Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, a South Carolina native who assisted at College of Charleston and then led tiny Winthrop to seven NCAA tournaments in nine years. Marshall is leading the Shockers into the NCAA tournament as a five-seed, and has publicly said, although it was years ago, that he would love to take the USC job someday. Another candidate that could emerge is Jeff Capel, the former Oklahoma coach who was contacted when Horn was hired, but turned down the offer, was later fired and currently serves as an assistant coach at Duke. Shaka Smart, the Virginia Commonwealth coach who shocked the world last season by taking a team from a play-in game to the Final Four, would be a hot name, but he has been publicly mentioned as the top choice to replace Bruce Weber, who was recently fired at Illinois.”
  3. John Clay wrote of the comparisons between Kentucky’s 1996 team than went undefeated in SEC play only to lose in the Tournament final in New Orleans before winning the national title to the 2012 version of the Wildcats that followed the same first two chapters of the script by speaking with a key member of the ’96 team, Tony Delk. Delk, now an assistant for New Mexico State said “It was a game where I thought that was the best loss we could have had. Because going into the tournament, you didn’t want to be too high. If we had won that game, it could have been, ‘OK, we’re going to cruise through this and we’re going to win easily.’ We could have gotten knocked off early. We re-focused ourselves.”
  4. In advance to Ole Miss opening play in the NIT, the Rebels secured a commitment from Marshall Henderson, a 6-2 guard from South Plains Junior College. Hen started his career at Utah but transferred to Texas Tech. After sitting out the NCAA-mandated transfer year, he moved again following the dismissal of coach Pat Knight. Henderson is averaging 19.4 points a game and is shooting 46 percent from the floor, 43 percent from the 3-point line, and 88 percent at the free-throw line.
  5. Florida’s all-SEC freshman guard Bradley Beal offered some insight as to his plans for next season. Some NBA Draft projections have placed Beal inside the top 10. “Either way it goes, if I leave, I still played a great year of college, I enjoyed it,” Beal said. “If I stay, it’s only going to make me get better. Either way it goes, I’m gaining something positive out of it. I have no clue. I haven’t even really thought about it at all,” said Beal. “Right now, I don’t know. I haven’t put too much thought into it. When that time comes I’m going to talk to coach (Billy) Donovan and my family and we’re going to have to sit down and talk about it. When that time comes, it comes.”
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SEC Morning Five: 03.12.12

Posted by EMoyer on March 12th, 2012

  1. Vanderbilt ended a 61-year SEC Tournament Championship drought by toppling #1 Kentucky, 71-64, on Sunday. As a reward for their effort, the Commodores earned a #5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but the committee did them few other favors. For starters, they will open their tournament on Thursday and secondly, they must travel to Albuquerque, N.M. Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings voiced some displeasure with his team’s fate, saying “I thought with the win today, maybe we had a chance to crack the top 16 (and be a 4 seed). But we didn’t and that’s OK. It’s kind of difficult. I was really wanting, more than anything else, I was really hoping for a close site and a Friday game. And we got a far-away site and a Thursday game. So I guess that is what it is and we have to go get ready to do it.”
  2. As some experts began to say that Kentucky needed to experience a loss before NCAA Tournament, the Commodores obliged by handing the Wildcats their first loss in more than three months. John Clay wrote if the loss will follow the adage or if it held greater meaning. “Did a young Kentucky team, without a deep bench, succumb to the fatigue of playing three games in three days? Did the law of averages catch up with the Cats?”
  3. After falling to Kentucky in the SEC Tournament semifinals, Florida head coach Billy Donovan questioned the free throw disparity between his Gators and the favored Wildcats. “We got to the free-throw line two times in by far the most physical game we have played this year,” Donovan said. “How we only got there two times is beyond me. I thought it got to a point in the second half where it was kind of like just everybody was taking each other down because no one wanted to give up anything easy…When you see from our bench in the second half, Patric Young getting pushed in the back constantly, constantly, constantly, and there’s no whistle. I mean, to me it’s really hard to overcome 20 free throws to two.”
  4. Mississippi State’s late-season fade culminated in the the Bulldogs missing out on the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year. On Sunday, Greg Shaheen, interim executive vice president for NCAA championships, acknowledged that the Bulldogs were among the final teams under consideration, “They were in discussions as recently as [Sunday] morning,” he said during a teleconference. “The committee woke up [Sunday] morning with an interest in kind of making sure that the last selections were exactly where they wanted to be, and Mississippi State was still in that discussion…Mississippi State was there for the taking when the final field was set. Certainly their résumé put them right there.”
  5. Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy offered up some thoughts on the Rebels earning a #2 seed in the NIT and on the suspension of Jelan Kendrick, who did not play at all during the SEC Tournament. On the NIT, he told Hugh Kellenberger, “My hope is that once we get through the disappointment of not getting it done against Vandy in the semifnials, they’ll be excited to play basketball and the competitive spirit and nature will kick in and they will want to keep playing,” Regarding Kendrick, Kennedy said, “We’ll revisit the situation this week.”
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RTC’s 2012 SEC Tournament Preview

Posted by EMoyer on March 8th, 2012

Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Sun Conference and Southern Conference and a contributor to the RTC SEC Microsite. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer.

Tournament Preview

Tournament Tidbits

  • Kentucky is the top seed in the modified SEC Tournament. After 20 years of seeding based on divisional finishes, the 12 teams were seeded #1 through #12. This change allowed for four former “Eastern Division” schools (Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Florida) to claim the first-round byes. In previous years, the Commodores and Gators would have had to play first round games and the 9-7 Alabama and 8-8 Mississippi State squads would have had byes.
  • Anthony Davis swept the SEC year-end awards, claiming Freshman of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Player of the Year. There exists some history of SEC Players of the Year leading his team to a tournament title and claiming Tournament MVP honors in the process. In 25 years of the Coaches SEC Player of the Year, five have doubled up with Tournament MVP honors. Four of those players came from Kentucky (Ron Mercer, 1997; Tayshaun Prince, 2001; Keith Bogans, 2003; John Wall, 2010). Only one Defensive Player of the Year, Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnadoin 2009, went on to earn Tournament MVP honors (the award began in 2004). No SEC Freshman of the Year has won Tournament MVP honors in the same season (that award began in 2001).

    Anthony Davis Swept The SEC's Three Major Postseason Awards. Will The Dynamic Davis Add A Tournament MVP To His Growing List Of Accolades? (AP)

  • The Wildcats will go for its fourth “three-peat.” Kentucky won SEC Tournament titles from 1944-50, 1992-95 and from 1997-99. The only other programs to win three straight SEC titles are Alabama (1989-91) and Florida (2005-07).
  • Kentucky enters the SEC Tournament off a perfect 16-0 record in league games. In nine previous seasons, the Wildcats also posted perfect conference records leading up the conference tournament. Kentucky has gone on to win seven of those tournament titles, losing to Vanderbilt in 1951 and Mississippi State in 1996. The loss to the Bulldogs also came in New Orleans

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SEC Season Wrap-Up

Posted by EMoyer on March 8th, 2012

Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Sun Conference and Southern Conference and a contributor to the RTC SEC Microsite. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer.

The Year that Was

  • Kentucky pulled off its 12th undefeated SEC season in history (and 16th overall by any school) with an incredible scoring margin of 16.4 points per game against SEC foes – the widest margin since at least 1996-97. 
  • For the first time in the three years that John Calipari has coached the Wildcats, one of his many talented freshmen did not lead EC freshmen in scoring. That honor went to Arkansas’ B.J. Young. The first-year Razorback averaged 15.3 points per game.
  • While no Wildcat freshman led the league’s rookies in scoring, no  one would argue that his freshest class of Blue Chippers lacked impact. Anthony Davis shattered Kentucky, SEC, and NCAA records in the paint and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist produced some of his best efforts against the nation’s best.

    John Calipari Has Had A Lot Of Reasons To Smile So Far This Season (AP)

  • The league’s two new coaches, Mike Anderson (Arkansas) and Cuonzo Martin (Tennessee) each came from the “Show Me State” and both showed glimpses of excellence during the course of the season. Anderson and the Razorbacks started 17-1 at home before some late faltering has them starring at the NIT. Martin’s tenure opened with a 3-6 start that included losses to Oakland, Austin Peay, and College of Charleston. The season turnaround began with a home upset of Florida on January 7 and the team received an influx of talent when Jarnell Stokes (9.1 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 54.7% FG ) joined the team one week later. The Volunteers closed with eight wins in their last nine games and into “bubble talk” conversation.
  • A year ago, Alabama was left out of the NCAA Tournament despite winning in the old SEC Western Division. This season, Anthony Grant scheduled up, playing and most importantly, beating Wichita State, Purdue, and VCU. The Crimson Tide improved their strength of schedule from 114 last season to 19 this year entering the SEC Tournament. The Tide should easily return to the Big Dance for the first time since 2006.
  • Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins led the league in scoring at an even 20.0 points per game. He became the first repeat scoring champ in the SEC since LSU’s Ronnie Henderson in 1995 and 1996. He firmly established himself as one of the nation’s top shooters, connecting on an NCAA-leading 118 3-point field goals. That total ranks second in Commodore history, and him tied for the second-best single season total in SEC history with Tennessee’s Chris Lofton.
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