Gerald Smith is the RTC correspondent for the Southeastern Conference.
The Week That Was
- Big East Beatdown:The SEC left this past weekend’s Big East/SEC Challenge battered and bruised. Despite a tight road win for Mississippi at DePaul, the SEC only won four of the twelve games of the Challenge. Several of the high-profile swing games were close but did not turn in the SEC’s favor: Florida‘s three-point barrage wasn’t enough to lift it over Syracuse’s offensive rebounding and free-throw rate; Alabama could not slow down Georgetown’s offense enough to catch up; and Vanderbilt folded late in regulation and offered no counter to Louisville’s defense in overtime. The eight SEC teams that lost in the Challenge games scored an average of just 59.8 points, which includes Florida’s respectable 68 points and South Carolina’s surprising 67 points. Those eight losing teams also were out-rebounded by an average of 4.6 rebounds per game, with five teams out-rebounded by at least six rebounds. Those are some big talking points for coaches as they take their teams into the the final warm-ups for conference play.
- And All I Gave You Was Goodbye: Vanderbilt’s problems are almost too numerous to count. Everybody notices the absence of injured center Festus Ezeli; others have picked up on its underwhelming point-guard play. A recent disturbing trend is Jeffery Taylor‘s ineffectiveness late in Vandy’s last two games. Most of the senior’s stats this year (14.9 PPG, 47.3% FG, 6.3 RPG, 2.9 APG) are career bests… except for free-throw shooting (57.5%, down from 71.9% last season). Against Xavier, Taylor didn’t score after the 8:17 mark in the 2nd half. Against Louisville, Taylor didn’t score after the 17:25 mark in the second half, and gave up five turnovers from that time until the end of overtime. We hope he and his coaching staff can figures out what’s happening to him late in games and fix yet another problem dragging down his team.
- Yeah, Click-Clack: The Head Ball Coach is mostly done with Bruce Ellington, and not a moment too soon for coach Darrin Horn. The Gamecocks lost four of their first six games before Ellington hit the floor last Thursday in a 76-67 loss to Providence. On Sunday, the sophomore guard and his teammates beat their in-state rival Clemson 58-55 in part to Ellington’s nine points which included 4-4 FT. With Ellington back in the fold — and without any significant injuries from his time playing football — the Gamecocks can finally get their offense moving again.