Paul Jordan of Wildcat Blue Blog is the RTC correspondent for the Southeastern Conference.
- Kentucky 15-0
- Tennessee 10-2
- Florida 11-3
- Vanderbilt 11-3
- South Carolina 8-5
- Georgia 7-5
- Mississippi State 12-3
- Mississippi 11-2
- Alabama 10-4
- LSU 9-5
- Auburn 8-6
- Arkansas 7-7
NEWS & NOTES
The big story in the SEC this week was the arrest and indefinite suspension of four Tennessee basketball players — Tyler Smith, Melvin Goins, Cameron Tatum and Brian Williams. The group was arrested on a myriad of drug and weapon charges. Some of the charges were felonies, and given the recent problems with UT’s football program, it is hard to imagine any scenario in which the players may step back on the court this season. It is a big loss for the Vols, as the players had accounted for 33 points a game. Elsewhere, South Carolina dismissed forward Mike Holmes from the team for repeated rule violations. Holmes is the second starter lost this season for the Gamecocks as Dominique Archie was also lost for the season due to injury.
Kentucky continues to be the class of the SEC in the rankings, holding onto their #3 ranking in both the AP Top 25 and the ESPN/USA Today poll. Tennessee is #15 in the ESPN/USA Today poll and #16 in the AP Top 25. Mississippi remains the third ranked team at #14 in the AP poll and #16 in the ESPN/USA Today. Florida is hovering just outside the top 25 and may re-emerge with another strong week or two.
Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins was named SEC Player of the Week again after averaging 18.5 points and 15.0 rebounds in two Wildcat wins. Cousins also won the Freshman of the Week award last week for his double-double performances against Drexel and Long Beach State. This week, that honor goes to Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins, who averaged 17.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3 assists in a pair of Commodore wins.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR THIS WEEK
The parade of cupcakes ends later this week as SEC play officially gets underway. What else really needs to be said? As of right now, the SEC has seven teams with 10 wins already, and you have to consider each strong tournament teams right now. Let’s see how these teams hold up as it goes within the conference from here on out.
- 1/5 – #2 Texas (13-0) @ Arkansas (7-7) – 7:00 PM – ESPN2
- 1/5 – #17 Georgia Tech (11-2) @ Georgia (7-5) – 7:00 PM – ESPN360
- 1/6 – Charlotte (10-3) @ #15 Tennessee (10-2) – 7:00 PM – ESPN360
- 1/9 – Florida (11-3) @ Vanderbilt (11-3) – 12:00 PM – ESPN2
- 1/9 – Mississippi State (12-3) @ #16 Mississippi (11-2) – 1:30 PM – ESPN360
- 1/9 – Alabama (10-4) @ LSU (9-5) – 5:00 PM
- 1/10 – #1 Kansas (13-0) @ #15 Tennessee (10-2) – 4:30 PM – CBS
TEAM UPDATES (ratings are AP, ESPN/USA Today)
Kentucky (#3, #3)—John Wall set a UK record for assists with 16 as UK crushed the Hartford Hawks 104-61 on Tuesday night. DeMarcus Cousins added 19 points and 12 boards and Darius Miller scored a season high 16 points to key the ’Cats win. On Saturday, Kentucky endured a sluggish first half and then pulled away in the second half to defeat bitter in-state rival Louisville 71-62. Cousins led the way with 18 points and 18 rebounds. Patrick Patterson and John Wall both had 17 points. Kentucky, at 15-0, is off to their best start in 40 years.
Tennessee (#16, #15)—Wayne Chism had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Tennessee dominated inside for a 66-59 victory over Memphis on New Year’s Eve. JP Prince and Tyler Smith had 12 and 11 to lead the Vols in the rivalry game.
Florida—Florida breezed to a 43-13 halftime lead against Presbyterian and then coasted for a 79-38 win. The Gators outrebounded the Blue Hose, yes, the Blue Hose, by a 48-24 margin. Chandler Parsons led the way with 21 points off the bench and Alex Tyus had 16 points and 13 boards while Erik Murphy had a double-double (16 pts, 11 boards) off the bench. Chandler Parsons hit a dramatic 75-foot shot as time expired in OT to give the Gators a 62-61 win over NC State. The three-pointer was Parson’s only FG of the game. Vernon Macklin had 14 points and Erving Walker 13 to lead the Gators in scoring.
Vanderbilt—Freshman reserve John Jenkins scored 15 points to lead Vanderbilt to an 86-48 victory over Manhattan. Eleven players scored for the Commodores, the third straight game that Vanderbilt had at least 10 players score. AJ Ogilvy also came off the bench to add 12 points. John Jenkins scored a career-high 20 points to lead Vanderbilt in an 82-46 rout of Southern Mississippi. The freshman guard was 6-of-6 from 3-point range and the Commodores shot a season-high 64.3 percent (9-for-14) from beyond the arc. Jeffery Taylor had 14 points off the bench and Ogilvy had 10 points in his return to the starting lineup as Vandy blasted Middle Tennessee 73-53. Vanderbilt proves to be one of the SEC’s deeper teams as five players scored in double figures.
South Carolina—The Gamecocks battled back from a 21-point halftime deficit, but it was not enough as they fell short to the Boston College Eagles 85-76. Devan Downey had 29 points and Brandis Raley-Ross 13, but SC fell to 8-4 on the season. Baylor made a clean sweep of its two games in the SEC, this time stopping the Gamecocks 85-74. Downey had 20 points and Lakeem Jackson 19 but it was not enough to stop the Gamecocks’ second loss of the week.
Georgia—Trey Thompkins had 12 points and 13 rebounds as the Bulldogs dusted the Pepperdine Waves 64-47. Travis Leslie and Ricky McPhee also scored in double digits for the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs were no match for the Missouri Tigers on Saturday as they were routed 89-61. Leslie was the only Bulldog in double digits with 18 points as the Bulldogs had only 6 assists against 23 turnovers.
Mississippi (#14, #16)—Ole Miss set a school record for three-pointers with 14 as they beat Jackson State 90-75. Terrico White hit 7 of 10 from beyond the arc and scored 29 points to lead the Rebels. Zach Graham added 14 points.
Mississippi State—Jarvis Varnado scored a season-high 23 points and tied his career-best 17 rebounds as Mississippi State won its ninth straight with a 77-68 victory over San Diego on New Year’s Eve. The Bulldogs used their superior inside game to take control of the game late in the first half and maintained its lead throughout the game. Kodi Augustus added 17 points. MSU also suffered a tough loss at the hand of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 55-52. Jarvis Varnado had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulldogs and Dee Bost added 13 off the bench.
Alabama—JaMychal Green scored 19 points and had eight rebounds to lead Alabama to a 77-65 victory over Tennessee State. Senario Hillman added 15 points and six assists for the Crimson Tide, who have won three of their past four games. Mikhail Torrance scored 19 points to lead Alabama over Toledo 67-50 on Monday night for their third straight win. Justin Knox added 14 points and Green had 12 for the Crimson Tide who have put together a three-game winning streak for the third time this season.
LSU—LSU is starting to look like a team that will not be able to compete in the SEC as they got thumped by Xavier 89-65. LSU has gotten blown out of a couple of matchups against NCAA-level teams so far this season. Bo Spencer, Tasmin Mitchell and Storm Warren accounted for 49 of the Tigers 65 points. The Tigers also blew a 12-point second half lead in the second half and went down to Utah, 61-59. Warren (21 points) and Mitchell (19 points) accounted for over two-thirds of the Tiger’s points. LSU snapped their three game losing streak with a 83-60 romp over McNeese State. Mitchell and Spencer had 19 and 18 points, respectively, to lead the Tigers.
Auburn—Lucas Hargrove had 20 points and 13 rebounds as Auburn overcame a sluggish start to beat Charleston Southern 77-62 on Tuesday night. The Tigers fell behind 22-15, but turned up the pressure and forced 22 turnovers. Frankie Sullivan added 10 points and six steals for Auburn. Brendon Knox scored 18 points and 11 rebounds for his first career double-double and Auburn defeated Georgia Southern 95-75. The Tigers shot a season-high 54.2 percent from three-point range (13 of 24), including a 4-5 effort by Sullivan who finished with 15 points.
Arkansas—The Razorbacks had a chance to get a good statement win but were blown out at home by Baylor, 70-47. Jemal Farmer, Rotnei Clark and Marshawn Powell were the only Razorbacks to show up as they scored 38 of Arkansas’s 47 points. Arkansas had a chance to redeem themselves against #24 UAB but suffered a heartbreaking 73-72 loss as UAB scored at the buzzer. The Hogs got good games from Powell (22), Washington (18), and Clark (16) but those three accounted for 56 of Arkansas’ 72 points.