Mississippi State’s Maui Performance Signals a Tough Season for Rick Ray

Posted by KAlmekinder on November 22nd, 2012

The Mississippi State Bulldogs spent earlier this week on the beautiful island of Maui as they participated in the EA Sports Maui Invitational. Among the palm trees, sandy beaches, and perfect waves, the Bulldogs’ lack of productivity in the annual preseason tournament showcased why Rick Ray‘s club, which finished in last place in the event, will have to endure a long and difficult path back to the top of the SEC.

Mississippi State’s woes displayed in Maui is a foreshadowing for the rest of the season (WFAA.com)

The Bulldogs lost all three of their guaranteed games in Maui by an average of 29 points. They averaged only 18 field goals per game, three three-point field goals per game, and, at one point, trailed #9 North Carolina by 49 points on Monday evening. Was this the worst performance from an SEC team in Maui in the last half-decade? Yes. Since 2007, the first year since any one specific school has been in Maui before (Kentucky went in 2006 and 2010), Mississippi State became the first SEC program to finish last in the annual week-of-Thanksgiving tournament. Out of the possible 18 games in the six total years of this research, Mississippi State had three of the five lowest scoring games of any SEC team (averaging 55 points per game). They also allowed opponents three of the five highest scoring games in the six years (averaging 84 points per game).

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Arnett Moultrie

Posted by EJacoby on June 22nd, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.

Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.

Player Name: Arnett Moultrie

School: Mississippi State

Height/Weight: 6’11” / 235 lbs.

NBA Position: Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Mid-First Round

Moultrie has explosive athleticism but needs work on his post game (AP Photo/B. Newman)

Overview: Arnett Moultrie is one of the few potential lottery picks in this draft who didn’t receive a lot of attention throughout his college career. Moultrie played in just one NCAA Tournament game in three seasons — back in 2010 with #12-seed UTEP when he had four points, three rebounds, and three turnovers in a loss to Butler. But he offered intriguing size and skills at that time and transferred to Mississippi State, where he consequently had a tremendously productive season in 2011-12 for the Bulldogs. The smooth big man averaged 16.4 points and 10.5 rebounds last season on 54.9% shooting, good for second, first, and fourth, respectively, in the SEC. He also improved his free throw shooting to an intriguing 78% last year on over five attempts per game. Moultrie displays ‘bouncy’ athleticism; a solid combination of leaping ability and agility for his 6’11” frame that allows him to explode at the rim and run the floor effectively. His 12’0” maximum vertical reach ranked third of all prospects at the Combine, showing an impressive 7’2.25” wingspan and finishing third-fastest of all power forwards in the sprint test behind Perry Jones and Thomas Robinson. Moultrie spoke out in frustration with his team’s late-season collapse last year, which drew conflicting attention but appears to work now as a positive as he’s followed up those comments with a strong showing in Combine interviews. He doesn’t play a whole lot of defense at this stage and needs work on paint skills on both ends, but his offensive productivity is very intriguing.

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Won and Done… Kentucky Roster Undergoes Yearly Overhaul

Posted by EMoyer on April 18th, 2012

On Tuesday evening, the worst kept secret was revealed as Kentucky’s five heralded underclassmen, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague all declared for June’s NBA Draft. The five brings the total to 15 of John Calipari recruits to leave early since 2008.

It Was All Smiles For This Group in Lexington

Eight of the previous 10 went on to become first round picks and two (John Wall and Derrick Rose) went No. 1 overall. Both the mock drafts at NBADraft.net and on ESPN.com have all five Wildcats going in the first round. DraftExpress.com lists four Wildcats going in the first round with Lamb currently an early second-round choice. According to all three sites, Davis will join Wall and Rose as top overall picks. They also agree that Kidd-Gilchrist projects as a top three pick and two (ESPN.com and DraftExpress.com) put Jones in the lottery.

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SEC Morning Five: 03.27.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on March 27th, 2012

  1. South Carolina landed its new head coach, luring Frank Martin from Kansas State to come to Columbia. A strained relationship with his AD has been cited as the reason Martin was looking for a chance. “Frank is just looking to be happy,” a source said in a Kansas City Star report. “He wants to work at a place where he has the full support of his athletic director and president. He wants to be left alone so he can do what he does best — coach.” Martin apparently felt he could no longer do that at K-State.
  2. Mississippi State received news on multiple fronts on Monday. On the player front, the Bulldogs lost a pair of players, Renardo Sidney to the NBA Draft, and DeVille Smith to transfer. A third Bulldog, Arnett Moultrie, has decided to delay his decision until Wednesday on whether he too will leave for the NBA. On the coaching front, one of the rumored candidates to take Rick Stansbury’s former job, Murray State’s Steve Prohm, agreed to a new contract that will extend him there through the 2015-16 season.
  3. On Monday afternoon, the Associated Press released its All-America team and one player earned the acclaim as a unanimous selection – and it wasn’t presumptive Player of the Year Anthony Davis of Kentucky. Of the 65 ballots, he appeared on 63 of them. Scott Reid of the Orange County Register and Scott Mansch of the Great Falls (MT) Tribune were the duo who left Davis off their ballots. As CBS Sports‘ Jeff Borzello wrote “To be honest, that’s mind-boggling. There is absolutely no case that can be made against Davis being a first-team All-American. What’s the logic, other than not simply paying attention? If you believe Robinson is the best player in the country, that’s fine. I disagree – as do most of the Player of the Year awards – but that’s not the point. There are still four other spots on the All-American team – and Davis needs to be on there in some form.”
  4. In six postseason games (two SEC Tournament and four NCAA Tournament games) in which he averaged 16.5 points per game and shot 53.1% (42.9% on threes, one Gainesville Sun writer surmised that Florida freshman Bradley Beal boosted his NBA Draft prospects. “Either way it goes, if I leave, I still played a great year of college,” Beal said before the NCAA Tournament. “I enjoyed it. If I stay, it’s only going to make me get better. Either way it goes, I’m gaining something positive out of it.”
  5. In a season recap on Indiana’s season, the possibility of the Indiana-Kentucky rivalry ending because of SEC expansion merited a couple of paragraphs of attention. From Sunday’s Indianapolis Star: “IU athletic director Fred Glass said Friday morning that the sides have had some preliminary discussion, but it will likely be June before a decision is reached.”
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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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SEC Morning Five: 03.02.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on March 2nd, 2012

  1. JaMychal Green’s role has been somewhat limited as of late because of a suspension handed down from coach Anthony Grant, but Green stepped up in a big way on Senior Night. “For this to be my last game at the Coliseum, that’s the way I’d like to go out,” Green said. “I really didn’t think of it as my last game, I just thought about winning.” Green scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, including a tip in with just 34 seconds remaining in the game as the Crimson Tide went on to beat rival Auburn. For Alabama to be effective in the NCAA Tournament, Green will be a key reason why.
  2. Arnett Moultrie is now praising his team for its togetherness, just days after he blasted them for an inability to turn the season around. After the Bulldogs’ win over South Carolina, Moultrie said, “The team is together. It’s always been together since Day 1. We’re enjoying this win right now and hopefully it’ll start a streak and get us going so we can make a nice run in the NCAA Tournament.” Moultrie was a big reason for the victory. The power forward finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds for his 17th double double of the season. This win ended a five-game losing streak for the Bulldogs, and hopefully squashed some team turmoil that seemed to be brewing from within.
  3. After two straight losses, Florida is focused on getting better, even if it is March. While UF’s next opponent, Kentucky, played Georgia Thursday night, the Gators were able to focus on making improvements in practice. “I think the next 11 to 12 days for our team will be critical because we do have some periods where we can practice and focus on ourselves,” coach Billy Donovan said. Florida looks to avoid its first three-game losing streak since the 2009-10 season.
  4. Tennessee kept hope alive for a first round bye in the SEC Tournament. After beating LSU on Wednesday night, the Volunteers need to beat Vanderbilt on Saturday to avoid playing next Thursday in the conference tournament. Coach Cuonzo Martin stressed the team’s desire as the primary reason for its victory Wednesday, and of its key ingredient for success moving forward. “The key was heart,” said Martin. “We’ve been through these situations plenty of times before, and we had the heart and mental toughness to win it.” Martin’s team may have a lot of heart, but it also has a lot of freshman Jarnell Stokes. Stokes came up big on Wednesday with a career high 18 points.
  5. Kentucky has come a long way since 2009 when Georgia came to Lexington and spoiled Senior Night. On March 4, 2009, the Bulldogs beat the Wildcats 90-85 while UK was under head coach Billy Gillispie. What a difference a couple of years make. At the end of Gillispie’s era at UK, the Wildcats’ future was in question as they were coming off a 3-5 end to the SEC season and a trip to the NIT. Now, the Cats are fresh off a Final Four trip, and are hoping to attend another one this year. And of course, the Wildcats are looking to go a perfect 16-0 in conference play for the first time since 2003. A lot has changed, and John Calipari deserves way more credit then he gets for that transformation.
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SEC Morning Five: 02.28.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on February 28th, 2012

  1. Kentucky’s Anthony Davis was named SEC Player of the Week for his demonstrative performances against Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. Davis averaged 20.5 points, 11 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, and two steals including a career-high 28 points to go with 11 rebounds against the Commodores. Kentucky’s freshmen swept the awards this week as Wildcat Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was named the SEC Freshman of the Week. Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 13 points, nine rebounds, two assists, 1.5 blocks, and 1.5 steals. He scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Kentucky’s win in Starkville.
  2. Despite the loss on Saturday, Vanderbilt was encouraged with its play against the #1 team in the land, the Kentucky Wildcats. “We got down 10 and I thought our guys really showed some courage coming back and getting the game back to where it was,” Commodores coach Kevin Stallings said. While winning is the measure of any good team, Vanderbilt has to feel good about playing tough in Rupp Arena where the Cats have won 51 straight. “They’ve had their way with most people in here,” Stallings said. “We lost but the game was a game for 38 or 39 of the 40 minutes.” Vanderbilt’s experience in a hostile environment in Rupp, albeit during a loss, could give the ‘Dores the confidence they need going into March that they can play with anyone in the country.
  3. Tennessee freshman Jarnell Stokes is still adjusting to the college game, after he became eligible for the Volunteers during mid-season. Vols coach Cuonzo Martin, for one, is impressed with Stokes’ progress. “Jarnell has a good pace to his game; he doesn’t rush, he does a good job reading the defense, and for his size, he has good footwork and quickness,” Martin said. “You’re asking a kid that should still be in high school kid to come in and play at the SEC level against great competition without a preseason or the 14 games before league play.” As good as Stokes has been for Tennessee this season, even mid-season form is a scary thought for Vols’ opponents.
  4. Without the physical nature of forward Will Yeguete, Florida struggled on the defensive end in its loss to Georgia on Saturday. “We got hung up on screens and did not do a great job defensively at all,” coach Billy Donovan said. The Gators let the Bulldogs shoot 52.9 percent from the field, while being outscored by Georgia 38-26 in the paint. “There is an immaturity in understanding the other team’s guys are on scholarship. The other team’s guys are preparing hard,” Donovan said. Field goal percentage defense has been an especially important measure for Donovan’s Gators. Florida has given up over 50% shooting three times this season (at Tennessee, at Kentucky, and at Georgia), and all three games ended up as losses for the Gators.
  5. Mississippi State Bulldogs has been unraveling late in conference play. After appearing to be one of the surprise teams of the season with their solid play throughout the early going, the Bulldogs are on an alarming five game losing streak. “It’s real disappointing because I just see our season slipping away right in front of our eyes,” forward Arnett Moultrie said. “All we need is one win. I believe we’ll be able to get on a winning streak.” The players, obviously, aren’t taking this situation lightly.  “It’s real disappointing,” point guard Dee Bost said. “It isn’t fun. It’s not exciting.” Luckily for the Dogs, postseason success is most often the standard for which teams are measured and Mississippi State still has time to turn this season around.
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Morning Five: 02.28.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 28th, 2012


  1. In an interesting twist, Mississippi State had been relatively quiet for a few weeks. Sure, their team was falling apart on the court, but at least they were not imploding off of it like they have done quite frequently recently. That all changed yesterday when star forward Arnett Moultrie told a reporter that he did not think that the team was tough enough to bounce back from their five-game losing streak. While we tend to agree with Moultrie’s assessment it is shocking that Moultrie would come out and say that publicly although maybe we should not be so surprised when none of his teammates have come out and challenged that assertion even anonymously.
  2. While most of the nation (or at least the college basketball-watching part) watched the last regular season Border War game for the foreseeable, former Kansas star Marcus Morris watched the game in Lawrence. Following the Jayhawks remarkable comeback, Morris reportedly went to a local Lawrence bar where he was cited for his involvement in a fight well after midnight. The fight reportedly involved another man at the bar and an employee, who was punched at least twice. The details on what actually occurred are hard to find right now, but Morris will be due back in a Lawrence court on March 20, which will fall on the Tuesday in between the opening and second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
  3. Gregg Doyel is known for going after hot-button topics and yesterday he took on another one as he defended the coaching ability of John Calipari. It might sound like a ridiculous topic to even discuss and some might even argue that Doyel is essentially building up a straw man just to knock him down, but apparently there are a handful of people out there who think that Calipari is just a great recruiter/salesman and not an excellent coach. While we might agree that Calipari’s ability on the recruiting trail might exceed his X-and-O capacity, that is not meant as much as a slight as it is a reflection of how he is the best recruiter in the game right now. The fact is that there are plenty of coaches who get great recruits to come to their school, but fail to back it up with results on the court and John Calipari is not one of those coaches.
  4. Looking for scatter plots with regression analyses to try to figure out which teams are going to do well in March? If the answer is yes (or if you just want the latter part to figure out who will do well in March), John Ezekowitz may have the answer for you. The actual conclusion probably is not groundbreaking for most fans, but the actual analysis and the fact that it may give you flashbacks to statistics class is certainly worth a look. Of course, since the results fit what we already suspected we are always more willing to buy into what he is selling.
  5. In this week’s edition of Hoop Thoughts, Seth Davis takes a look at Marquette, a top 10 team from the Big East that nobody is talking about as a national title contender. While Seth is not willing to call them that yet, he does note how strong the program has become under Buzz Williams, who is just his fourth year as head coach at the school. To Davis the story with Marquette is not just what they have done this season, which is remarkable in its own right, but instead what they have become as a program and what the future holds for a program led by a coach who is not even 40 yet.
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SEC Morning Five: 2.22.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on February 22nd, 2012

  1. Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators are trying to take things one game at a time, but it is proving difficult as Florida fights for a higher seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. “I don’t really talk to them about the seeding and those kind of things,” Donovan said. “I’ve always been a big believer you kind of take care what’s in front of you right then, and now and talking about something that’s going to be two or three weeks down the road, that will come.” Florida insists it is focusing on Auburn, but even point guard Erving Walker admits he “sometimes” checks mock tournament websites like brackets produced by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. And what is his opinion of Florida’s current placement on those websites? “Joe Lunardi is wrong sometimes,” Walker said.
  2. One team that needs to begin peeking at mock NCAA Tournament sites if it is not already doing so is the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are currently on the bubble according to USA Today’s latest bracketology. “What’s going on with the Bulldogs,” asks USA Today writer Nicole Auerbach. “Three not-great losses in a row. Need to turn things around quick, but for now, MSU stays in the field because of those three Top 50 wins.” After a tough home loss to Kentucky on Tuesday night, Mississippi State has another chance for a big win against Alabama that could propel the Bulldogs onto solid ground.
  3. Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury prepared for his team’s matchup with Kentucky on Tuesday by taking a shot at former player Twany Beckham who transferred to Kentucky. “I saw his stats the other day in SEC play. Did he make one or attempt one shot,” asked Stansbury. “He’s seeing some pretty good basketball. He’s getting a front-row ticket every night. Yes, sir.” But Beckham fired right back via his Twitter account saying, “that dude wanna coach where I’m playin at…not worried at all”. Although Beckham didn’t play against the Bulldogs on Tuesday night, it certainly added fuel to an already heated rivalry.
  4. Kentucky coach John Calipari played a game of his own, as he praised Stansbury’s Bulldogs relentlessly prior to Tuesday’s showdown.Dee Bost is good. You’ve got guys that could go for 30 (points),” Calipari said. “You’ve got five of them that could go for 30. All the sudden, you’re not just, ‘Stop this guy.’ You can’t do it that way. You’ve got to play basketball and try to make it difficult for them.” While Calipari’s point about the strength of the Bulldogs roster was not lost, not a single player on the Bulldogs roster has scored 30 points all season. But Calipari zeroed in on the most likely player to do so, and the one who has come the closest, Arnett Moultrie. “Arnett could go for 35 or 40 (points),” Calipari said. “It could happen, just like (Jeffery) Taylor went for whatever he went for (23 first-half points) against Mississippi.” Calipari’s motivation tactics worked yet again for the Wildcats as they rallied in the second half on Tuesday night, while not allowing a single Mississippi State player to get to 30 points during the game.
  5. Georgia coach Mark Fox had high praise for Vanderbilt shooting guard John Jenkins after the Commodores defeated the Dogs 61-52 on Sunday. Jenkins buried six of eight three point shots on his way to 28 points.“He’s the best shooter I’ve ever coached against,” Fox said about the reigning SEC Player of the Week. “I mean he’s phenomenal. He really is.” On the season, the Bulldogs have been a fairly strong team in guarding the perimeter shot. The 10 made threes by the Commodores were tied for the most Georgia has given up all season. Then again, it is difficult to defend Jenkins, who is a special player with an incredible outside shot. “We didn’t defend him well today all around,” Georgia guard Gerald Robinson said. “Everybody got a piece, got a taste in zone. The guy can shoot, flat-out shoot it. No ands, ifs or buts about it.”
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SEC Morning Five: 02.06.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on February 6th, 2012

  1. Vanderbilt again found itself unable to solve a pressing team, losing at Florida, 73-65, and committing 17 turnovers in the process. In the Commodores’ 16 wins, they have turned it over an average of 13.4 times (compared to 13.7 assists in those games). In the six losses, they have committed an average of 16.1 turnovers against just 12.0 assists per game. “We didn’t do a very good job of attacking (the press),” Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said in the Tennessean. “It was disruptive, and we did a poor job with our spacing. We did a poor job with our ball handling. It caused problems.” The Gators also continued a growing concern for the Commodores. They shot 11-of-24 from beyond the arc meaning that in four of Vandy’s last five games (taking away the win vs Tennessee), the other four teams have shot 46.3% from the three-point arc.
  2. Arnett Moultrie’s controversial transfer from UTEP to Mississippi State returned to the headlines this weekend when the Bulldogs faced and defeated Moultrie’s old coach, Tony Barbee, now at Auburn. In Saturday’s Birmingham News: “In an interview with a small group of reporters, Barbee declined to utter more than a few words when asked about Moultrie or his background, nor did he even use Moultrie’s name. On one point, however, he was adamant: Contrary to some published reports at the time, UTEP had in fact released Moultrie to come to Auburn.” In his first game against his old coach, Moultrie scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds in a 91-88 Bulldogs win.
  3. Kentucky fans have long earned the distinction as of possessing the most most basketball-crazed fans in the SEC, if not the country, but as John Clay wrote in the Lexington Herald-Leader after the Wildcats’ dismantling of South Carolina that Columbia was just the latest ‘Big Blue Occupy Movement.’ He quotes head coach John Calipari in the article: “Today when I walked out in that building, I was like ‘What in the world?'” he said. “It looked like half the building was blue. Our fans treat these guys like rock stars. I didn’t come out, but they told me they circled the court when they were warming up, taking pictures like they were Bon Jovi or somebody.”
  4. Former Ole Miss basketball player and the adoptive father of Michael Oher, Sean Tuohy, openly lobbied for the Rebel Athletic Director job in a Memphis Commercial Appeal story that ran over the weekend. The article states that Tuohy owns and operates 70 fast food locations with a “total annual budget of $60 million, [surpassing] the Ole Miss athletic department of $48 million. “I’m proud that I started successful companies and businesses,” Tuohy said. “But someday, I’m going to have to face my dad in heaven, and I think he’d be more interested in what I did as athletic director of Ole Miss more than any of my business stuff.”
  5. Georgia’s season of frustration spilled out of head coach Mark Fox late Saturday in the Bulldogs’ 73-62 loss at Tennessee. He drew a pair of technical fouls after a non-call within five seconds to garner an ejection with 19 seconds  left to play.  “I have no comment on that,” Fox said a few minutes later. “Not to be disrespectful to you, I know you’ve gotta ask that question.”
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SEC Morning Five: 02.01.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on February 1st, 2012

  1. The Anthony Davis season-long block party continued in Lexington last night as he blocked seven shots in Kentucky’s 69-44 win. Davis increased his block total to 108 on the season, good for 10th on the SEC single-season list. He trails only Shaquille O’Neal for the SEC freshman record, when he blocked 115 shots in the 1989-90 season. For the first time in more than 1,800 games, the Wildcats held three straight opponents to 50 or fewer points (Georgia 44, LSU 50, Tennessee 44). Kentucky had not limited three teams to 50 or fewer points in three consecutive games since the 1950-51 season. On the offensive side, UK hit its first 11 shots and jumped out to a 26-8 lead.
  2. Arkansas remained perfect at Bud Walton Arena this season beating Vanderbilt, 82-74, thanks to a 50-point effort in the second half. The Razorbacks improved to 16‐0 at home this season, tying the school record for the most consecutive home wins to start a season (matching the 1993-94 national championship team). The Razorbacks now own home victories against Mississippi State, Michigan and Vanderbilt; the last time that Arkansas defeated three ranked teams in the same season came in 2007‐08 when it beat Mississippi State, Florida and Vanderbilt.
  3. The only contest on Wednesday night features Georgia traveling to Auburn to face the Tigers at 8 PM on the SEC Network. Although neither team is threatening the top of the SEC standings, the series is extremely tight as the Bulldogs took a two-game lead in the series (89-87) after a pair of wins last year. Over the 176 games, Georgia leads the all-time score, 10,427-10,223, a difference of a mere 204 points. The home team has won 16 of the last 20 contests.
  4. Florida has moved to the top of the national leaderboard in assist/turnover ratio at 1.55. The Gators have increased that mark over their last four games (wins against South Carolina, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State) by dishing out 66 assists against only 33 turnovers. Point guard Erving Walker paces the team with 106 assists and the senior has only 43 turnovers, good for a 2.47 A/TO ratio. He entered his final season sporting a 1.67 A/TO ratio. In the previous two seasons, the Gators sported a 1.14 A/TO ratio, a mark that ranked just outside the top 50 in the NCAA.
  5. Since starting 12-1, Mississippi State has gone just 5-4. In defense of the Bulldogs, the losses are all to RPI top-50 schools (Baylor, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Florida). However, Brad Locke surmised that the Bulldogs’ lack of depth could be showing itself. The top three minute-loggers in the SEC come from Mississippi State with Dee Bost (35.0), Arnett Moultrie (34.2) and Rodney Hood (34.2) seeing significant minutes. The Bulldogs feature just 10 scholarship players, and that still includes Renardo Sidney, who as Locke writes is “clearly out of shape and overweight, and he seems incapable of handling any bigger of a playing load.”
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Set Your TiVo: 01.27 – 01.29

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 27th, 2012

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

There aren’t too many big time matchups on the schedule this weekend but it’s still a decent slate of games to keep you occupied.

Mississippi State @ #12 Florida – 1:30 PM EST Saturday on ESPN FullCourt/ESPN3.com  (***)

Florida May Struggle to Contain the Mississippi State Big Men

  • It has gone largely unnoticed but Florida has won six of its past seven games since losing at Rutgers in December. The Gators bring the top-rated offensive efficiency to the table and are a threat to win any game they play because of it. However, Billy Donovan’s team is thin up front and lacks the lockdown defense elite teams exhibit. Against Mississippi State, Florida could very have major problems dealing with the Bulldogs’ front line. Patric Young attempted double figure shots for only the fifth time this season against Mississippi on Thursday. Without a go-to guy in the post, Florida’s offense revolves around Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton with Brad Beal and forward Erik Murphy, a pick-and-pop specialist. Florida will attempt plenty of threes, connecting 40.7% of the time. Scoring from outside shouldn’t be a major problem against Mississippi State but stopping the Bulldogs inside will be.
  • Rick Stansbury has a huge advantage in this game with Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney in his frontcourt. Florida can’t match those two players and the Bulldogs should be pounding the ball inside all day long on Saturday. However, Dee Bost has to be able to create and get into the lane in order to get Moultrie and Sidney going early and often. If Bost isn’t able to penetrate Florida’s defense, the Gators can pack it in and dare Mississippi State to beat them from the outside. Of more concern to Stansbury has to be his defense. In SEC play, the Bulldogs are allowing opponents to shoot 43.4% from beyond the three point arc. If Florida shoots anywhere near that percentage, it’s likely going to be a long afternoon at the O-Dome for the visitors from Starkville.
  • In order to steal an important road win, the Bulldogs have to rebound and score in the paint as well as in transition off long rebounds since neither team turns the ball over much. Fast break points will be at a premium in this game but whichever team wins that category will have an advantage. However, the most important part of Mississippi State’s game plan has to be defending the three point line. If the Bulldogs can’t, they won’t win in Gainesville. Even with all that said, this is a game Mississippi State can win with a strong effort. Florida needed a second half rally to defeat Ole Miss in its last game and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Mississippi State could spring the upset.
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