Rushed Reactions: #7 UCLA 60, Georgia 56

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 20th, 2012

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Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor. He filed this report from UCLA’s victory over Georgia on Tuesday night at the Barclays Center. Follow him on Twitter @botskey.

Three thoughts from UCLA’s close call against Georgia…

  1. UCLA defended better, but it wasn’t a consistent effort. After last night’s poor defensive showing, UCLA looked much the same in the first half. Georgia came out and was able to get multiple easy baskets in the paint. That led to a five-point Bulldogs halftime lead but Ben Howland’s Bruins reversed the trend after the break. UCLA held Georgia to 30% shooting and just 26 points in the second half. Howland mixed in some zone but played predominantly man defense tonight. After the game he admitted his team couldn’t stop Georgia in the man defense, but prefers that defense as opposed to zone. UCLA’s on-ball pressure was improved and they rebounded better after halftime. It was a tale of two halves for the Bruins, but the second half eventually won out and UCLA leaves Brooklyn with a split, something Howland acknowledged was very important. He didn’t want that long plane ride home to LA to be for naught. It’s not the way they wanted it to happen but a split is what most people expected.
  2. Shabazz had 21 points, but Travis Wear was UCLA’s MVP tonight. Wear posted 10 points and eight rebounds, but it seemed like a lot more. He was everywhere around the rim on both ends of the floor and his rebounding was extremely valuable in the second half when Georgia was missing shots. With his brother David out due to injury, Wear stepped up when others like Josh Smith could only manage four boards. Going up against a strong rebounder in Georgia’s Marcus Thornton is never easy but Wear excelled tonight. Both Wear twins have been described as role players once they transferred from North Carolina but they’re both showing signs of improvement. They will be hugely important players for UCLA because Smith has shown little signs of improvement (or a will to improve) in his time in Westwood.
  3. Georgia is 1-4, but it should improve. I’m not sure what happened in the Youngstown State and Southern Miss losses but I have a hard time believing Georgia is as bad as its record indicates. The Bulldogs aren’t the 22 to 25-win team Indiana coach Tom Crean talked about last night but I don’t think they’re a terrible basketball team. Georgia has pieces to build around, especially Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Marcus Thornton. Mark Fox has a very good track record at Nevada and, while it’ll be hard to move up the SEC ladder, Georgia has the potential to do so. The Bulldogs will see their share of rough losses but don’t expect them to be a total doormat for the SEC like, say, Mississippi State.
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Rushed Reactions: #1 Indiana 66, Georgia 53

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 19th, 2012

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Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor. He filed this report from Indiana’s victory over Georgia on Monday night at the Barclays Center. Follow him on Twitter @botskey.

Three thoughts from Indiana’s closer-than-expected victory over Georgia in Brooklyn tonight.

  1. Jordan Hulls and Victor Oladipo provided Indiana with the lift it needed in the second half. After the game, Tom Crean said his team had a lot of energy sources tonight. Of those, nobody provided a bigger lift to the Hoosiers than Hulls and Oladipo. Hulls looked hesitant to shoot early in the game but got himself into a rhythm after halftime. The senior gunner from Bloomington knocked down four of six triples and sparked Indiana in transition. Oladipo, who blossomed into a major contributor for the Hoosiers last season, was a high flyer around the rim with a couple of athletic dunks and was a force defensively. Crean said his team had a tough time amping up the pace and getting out in transition, but Indiana was able to do that over the final 10-12 minutes of the game.
  2. Cody Zeller wasn’t Cody Zeller but Indiana was able to overcome it. Zeller struggled all night after being saddled with early foul trouble and wound up taking only four shots. Without the Big Handsome in the middle, it’s clear that Indiana is a different team. The Hoosiers struggled mightily in the first half in running their offense and not having their seven-footer in the middle to run things through was the primary reason why. Zeller scored only six points, the second-lowest point total of his Indiana career. Indiana needs him on the floor to run its offense at the level Crean expects, but Zeller also has to demand the ball more. That was an issue at times last season. Bank on a better night for the sophomore stud tomorrow against Georgetown.
  3. Georgia slowed the game successfully in the first half but couldn’t keep it up. While it wasn’t pretty to watch, Georgia did a great job slowing the pace and turning it into a half-court game. Unfortunately for Mark Fox and the Bulldogs, Hulls and Oladipo were able to fuel Indiana’s transition game in the second half. One key reason why the pace quickened was Georgia’s awful shot selection. Fox admitted in the post-game press conference that his guys had some “immature possessions,” but that’s putting it mildly. Georgia’s shot selection, particularly those of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, got worse as the game progressed. Fox said Caldwell-Pope was “a little wound up” and it showed. He’s clearly Georgia’s prime offensive threat, but taking 15 shots, most of them highly inefficient, is not the way to win games.

Bonus thought: Indiana fans turned Barclays Center into Assembly Hall East. IU loves Brooklyn? It sure seemed like it as droves of Hoosier fans made their way to New York for this game. Expect them to be back in even stronger numbers tomorrow evening for the championship game of the Legends Classic. A job well done by the folks in red, one of the very best fan bases in the entire country.

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SEC M5: 11.12.13 Edition

Posted by DPerry on November 13th, 2012

  1. In recognition of their stellar opening performances, the SEC named Kentucky forward Kyle Wiltjer as the conference’s Player of the Week, while South Carolina forward Michael Carrera earned Freshman of the Week honors. As his team’s only returning contributor, Wiltjer’s 19 points, six boards and three blocks were invaluable in Kentucky’s nail-biter win over Maryland. The Oregon native has a reputation as a soft big man, but he showed signs that he may have made considerable strides in his defense and rebounding. Carrera’s stat line in his debut performance was shocking. The undersized forward displayed a nonstop motor in contributing 17 points and 15 rebounds in the Gamecocks’ overtime victory against Milwaukee-Wisconsin. He’ll need to maintain that aggression for South Carolina to compete on the glass in SEC play.
  2. The Johnny Jones era at LSU began with a win, but with forward Johnny O’Bryant III going down with an injury, we doubt the new coach could fully celebrate. O’Bryant headed to the locker room only 11 minutes into the Tigers’ opener against UCSB, and his status remains in doubt moving forward. The Tigers are another SEC team that lacks much inside punch, and O’Bryant was expected to handle the bulk of the frontcourt’s production. Fortunately, Anthony Hickey realizes that adjustments are necessary. “All five of us have to rebound,” the sophomore point guard told reporters, “We’re all crashing the boards hard.”
  3. The history of the Duke-Kentucky rivalry isn’t a long one, but it certainly doesn’t lack for highlights. The 1992 East Regional Final is the most notable, as any NCAA Tournament pre-game highlight montage would have you know. However, Kentucky fans are quick to point to the 17-point second half comeback from Tubby Smith’s 1998 national champions against Duke in the Elite Eight as another highlight. In the last match-up between the two bluebloods in 2001, the defending national champion Blue Devils were taken to overtime by a Rashaad Carruth-led Kentucky squad. Tonight’s match-up in Atlanta features two top teams who employ very different styles, and should provide some very compelling basketball. One bold prediction: The announcers will inform the audience, without noting which team is responsible for two-thirds of them, that Duke and Kentucky have combined for 12 national titles.
  4. Tennessee fans received bad news on Monday, with the school revealing that forward Jeronne Maymon will likely remain sidelined through the end of November as he recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery. The senior forward had a breakout junior season and is projected to form one of the conference’s most potent frontcourts with Jarnell Stokes inside. The Volunteers barely missed a beat without him in their opening win against Kennesaw State, but with possible games against NC State, Oklahoma State, and a match-up at Georgetown before the end of the month, the competition will get tougher. Kenny Hall is a quality deputy for Maymon, while Yemi Makanjuola could provide a rebounding boost against bigger lineups.
  5. If a mediocre Horizon League foe blows out an SEC team on its home floor, and no one was there to see it, did it really happen? Well, yes. as Georgia fell to 1-1 with a 68-56 loss to Youngstown State on Monday. The Bulldogs were outrebounded 42-31, and shot a dreadful 3-24 from the field in the first half. Coach Mark Fox didn’t mince words in the post-game press conference, admitting that his team “set the game back 10 years” with its putrid offensive performance. An embarrassingly small and lifeless crowd only contributed to an evening that the Bulldogs hope will be the low point of their season. As a meeting with top-ranked Indiana looms just a week away, Georgia will need to make drastic improvements to keep that game respectable.
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Preseason SEC Power Rankings

Posted by KAlmekinder on November 7th, 2012

Every week, the SEC microsite will post a composite power ranking list for the league’s performances coupled with a short commentary justifying each team’s specific ranking. This week the rankings are centered around the preseason expectations of each team, including the arrivals, departures, and results of their previous season. With the season officially underway on Friday, here’s your SEC preseason power rankings.

Kentucky tops the first Rush the Court: SEC power rankings (Washington Post)

  1. Kentucky – The playlist is set on repeat as long as Calipari is in Lexington; raw freshmen talent comes in, matures, performs at their highest peak in March, and gets drafted. Don’t expect this year’s squad to match last year’s numbers or expectations. However, Calipari will find a way to get these Cats to mature quickly and be in the hunt for their 48th SEC crown and another Final Four run.
  2. Florida – The Gators return quite a bit from their second Elite Eight run in as many seasons. Their expectations are to reach the Final Four for the first time since winning it all in 2007. While the veteran leadership of Kenny Boynton is a positive, the Gators must get more consistent play from several key role players, including Scottie Wilbekin and Mike Rosario, to reach their goals. The pieces are in place for another deep Gator run.
  3. Missouri –  The island of misfit transfers is located in Columbia, Missouri. Newcomers such as Earnest Ross (Auburn), Keion Bell (Pepperdine), Alex Oriahki (Connecticut), and Jabari Brown (Oregon) all come to Missouri to find a new and hopefully winning experience in the Tigers’ first year in the SEC. With preseason SEC Player of the Year Phil Pressey leading the backcourt as well as Laurence Bowers in the post, Missouri should not only come close to their success of last year but also vie for the school’s first Final Four appearance in history.
  4. Tennessee –  The Volunteers won nearly 20 games last year and earned a postseason NIT berth with first year head coach Cuonzo Martin. Adding freshman phenom forward Jarnell Stokes in January resulted in at least four more wins in the second half of the season. Martin’s defensive style of play, plus Stokes on the team for a full year and senior Jeronne Maymon guarding the post, should cause hopes for a darkhorse run at the SEC title. Read the rest of this entry »
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SEC M5: 11.01.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 1st, 2012

  1. Jeronne Maymon sitting on the bench isn’t the ideal situation for the Tennessee Volunteers, but it might be the best case scenario for redshirt freshman guard Quinton Chievous. “He’s 6’5″, a perimeter player, but him playing at the four for us, it’s tough for big guys to guard him because he moves and has spacing and you have to guard him at the 3-point line,” coach Cuonzo Martin said. “He’s also a better post player than most guys in terms of offensive production. He creates a lot of mismatches for big guys, especially when his shot is going.” Chievous is making a name for himself in the post, creating a possibility for playing time since he is slightly lower on the depth chart in the backcourt. Though he may be pleasantly surprised with Chievous’ progress, Martin would certainly prefer to be at full strength at the forward position when the 6’7″ Maymon returns from a “minor setback” with a previous knee injury.
  2. John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats take on the number one team in the country in an exhibition game on Thursday. No, Cal hasn’t changed his mind on playing Indiana and isn’t ready to take on rival Louisville just yet. The Cats are taking on the NAIA’s top-ranked team Northwood, and Calipari says his team’s defense isn’t up to par yet. “We’ve just got a long way to go. Defensively, we’re just awful right now. We don’t stay in front of everybody and we got guys stopping left and right and think it’s OK or, ‘It wasn’t my man.’ Stuff like that,” Calipari said. But he is looking forward to seeing his team improve. “The greatest thing about playing a team like this… is that the weaknesses or the things we’re not doing well will be glaring.” An interesting side note for this game is that former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino is the head coach for Northwood, turning the Seahawks into an NAIA powerhouse in his six years there. Northwood may provide a quality exhibition test for the Cats after proving itself earlier in the week by trailing Michigan State by only six points at halftime.
  3. Much has been made about Calipari experimenting with various lineup possibilities, but you would have to assume that he has made a decision concerning his starting lineup for Thursday’s game. Wrong. “Don’t know who is going to start yet,” Calipari said. “Don’t know, still trying to figure some stuff out. What I’m tinkering with is combinations. I’m trying to figure out, when these guys are in together how do we play, when that group is in together how do we play. That’s what we are trying to do.” Regardless of whether or not you believe that is the truth, it is clear that the coach has been extremely vocal about his opinion concerning starting lineups. “It doesn’t matter who starts, it’s who’s going to finish,” Cal said. Remember, senior Darius Miller came off the bench despite playing 25-35 minutes during the NCAA Tournament run last season.
  4. After a successful 10-day trip in Italy this summer, it is clear that Georgia is ready to make a move up in the SEC landscape. “We have more pieces this year,” coach Mark Fox said. “We’re a deeper basketball team. We’re more athletic than we were, we’re a more physical group and certainly a more experienced group than last year.” Fox’s Bulldogs return four starters, including guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who averaged 13.2 points per game last year. In order to take a step forward, Caldwell-Pope will need to improve upon his field goal percentage which finished under 40 percent a season ago. Finding another scorer to help the 6’5″ star should help free him up for better looks.
  5. Alabama lost two big scorers in JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell, but the Crimson Tide realize they will need to be a different type of team this year in order to be successful. “I think last year when we had someone like JaMychal down low, we focused a lot of our offense on him, which was understandable because he was such a dominant threat,” guard Andrew Steele said. “I think when you look at our team this year, our biggest strength will be opening up the court a little bit more and I think we’ll be a little more perimeter oriented. We still have confidence in our bigs, but our strength will be how we attack people off the dribble and space people.” Bama was not an effective perimeter-oriented team in 2011-12. The Tide shot just 28.9 percent from beyond the arc, which put them at a paltry 328th in the nation. The guards will have to knock down more open shots from long range in order for the offense to open up like Steele envisions.
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SEC M5: 10.12.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 12th, 2012

  1. While Kentucky coach John Calipari on Thursday added James Young for the 2013-14 season, he is still concerned about one player in particular for this season: Center Nerlens Noel has not yet been cleared to play by the NCAA. A source told SNY.tv‘s Adam Zagoria that Noel’s situation is still unclear. “The case status is fluid and may change this week,” the source said. “Will it be resolved by Midnight Madness? Or even by the season opener? No one knows at this point. UK is downplaying it publicly but I’m sure they’re a bit concerned.” Kentucky center Enes Kanter was deemed ineligible two seasons ago and the Cats went on a somewhat surprising run to the 2011 Final Four in Houston. However, I am certain that UK fans don’t want to find out if Calipari can pull a similar run this year without Noel.
  2. Opposing teams might want to consider how to limit Calipari’s time on an airplane in the near future. Kentucky junior Jon Hood revealed that Coach Cal comes back from long plane rides with new ideas and inspiration for practices and game plans. “He always seems to come back to us with, ‘I was thinking about you while I was on the plane and this is what I thought,’ ” Hood said. “Every off day he’ll go recruiting and he’ll come back, say we have an off day Wednesday, he’ll come back that Thursday with, ‘Well, we’re going to put this in now or we’re going to change this.’” Want to slow Kentucky down? Find a way to make sure the annoying guy in seat 13A sits next to the Wildcats’ head coach on the next flight.
  3. Georgia coach Mark Fox knows a winner when he sees one, and he has observed the success of the Bulldogs’ football team up close and personal. Maybe that’s why Fox is interested in tight end Jay Rome joining his team at the conclusion of the college football season. But after Rome told him about shooting jumpers recently, Fox had a warning for the big guy. “I said, ‘Well, you won’t shoot any for our team. You’re going to rebound,’” Fox said. “We were just joking because he is a pretty good shooter.’” But no, seriously — have you ever heard of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope? Shooting is covered. Rome, you better get down there and rebound.
  4. Speaking of the Bulldogs, Georgia had a 10-day trip in Italy that led to some team bonding, and evidently the trip paid off. “I think it did wonders for the team,” Georgia forward Marcus Thornton said. “As a cultural experience, it was great for all these guys. But more than that, it was a team bonding and building experience. While you’re over there, you don’t have all the distractions and the computers and all that other stuff with the social media age. So we got to spend a lot of time with each other. That’s fun, being around with each other. It was good for the team because we’re a group of guys who like to be around each other.” What? They don’t have social media in Italy? Who knew other countries already beat us to the ban on Instagram? What’s next, no pinning? Touche, Italy. Touche.
  5. Rebounding was an area of struggle for the Florida Gators last season, but second year strength coach Preston Greene stepped up the strength and conditioning plan for the low post players this season. Forwards Will Yeguete and Erik Murphy have already benefited. “We were pushing trucks, flipping tires, running around with a boxing bag,” Yeguete said. “It was crazy but we got through it. We all got better, we all got bigger and I think it’s going to help us this season.” Yeguete and Murphy beefed up to about 240 pounds each. A little extra bulk should help, especially for Murphy who is not exactly known  for his rebounding prowess. Yeguete led the team last season in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentages, but neither player will have the added benefit of the extra rebounds from Erving Walker missing unnecessary shots from several feet beyond the three-point line.

Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.

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SEC Transition Basketball: Georgia Bulldogs

Posted by Brian Joyce on July 17th, 2012

It’s hot out there, and to many of us, college basketball is the last thing on our minds. But here at the SEC Microsite, we’re going to be rolling out mid-summer resets of each of the (now) 14 basketball programs in our league. We’re calling it Transition Basketball, and you can expect we’ll cover three or four teams a week until we’re done. By that time, we’ll actually start to be turning the slight corner into the fall, and from there it’s a smooth slope down to Midnight Madness in mid-October. Today’s update: Georgia.

State of the Program

The Georgia Bulldogs earned an at large NCAA bid in 2011, making a repeat performance very difficult for Mark Fox and company last season. The Bulldogs welcomed in prize recruit Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a McDonalds All-American guard (Georgia’s first Burger Boy since 1992) with NBA potential, but too often they struggled to put points on the board. Georgia showed potential with victories against Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Florida and even a close loss against Cincinnati, but overall the defeats piled up. Fox’s squad ended up tied for 10th in the conference with a 5-11 SEC mark, a long fall from an NCAA Tournament appearance just the year before.

It is time for the Kentavious Caldwell-Pope show this season in Athens. (photo from Georgia 247 sports)

Caldwell-Pope comes back to Athens this season, bringing with him a hope that the Bulldogs can rise out of the depths of the SEC cellar. “If you look at our team, we have finally the athleticism and size that we want,” Fox said. “We have guys that will be able to win and graduate. You know, playing at Georgia, going to school at Georgia isn’t for everybody. … This will be the first team we’ll have [where] it should be a pretty complete roster. We should have a deep team. We won’t feel like we’re having to put a band-aid on a certain position.” Fox should be able to slide Caldwell-Pope back over to the two-guard position, a more natural fit then the small forward slot he was forced into last year. Guard Vincent Williams has  presumably earned the start at point guard giving the Bulldogs the benefit of another senior leader running the show in the backcourt. However, a front line that struggled to rebound last season again enters next season as a big question mark in a pivotal year for Fox. Finding consistency down low will prove to be a big key to Georgia’s fate.

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SEC Weekly Five: 05.03.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on May 3rd, 2012

  1. Due to a rash of injuries that has hit four of Team USA men’s basketball Olympic team original 20 finalists, recent Kentucky Wildcat Anthony Davis is reportedly set to be added as a finalist. He will join another former Wildcat, the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins, plus Piston center Greg Monroe and Jazz center Al Jefferson. “We’ve said that the strength of the team is going to be athleticism, wing players, the backcourt, but we’ll see,” Jerry Colangelo told SI.com on Saturday. “We’re going to have to consider a lot of things. The good news is that so many people wish and desire to play that we will be very deep regardless of what happens here — unless there’s another rash of things happening here. I pray that it’s over.”
  2. Davis and the rest of the national champion Wildcats will meet the most powerful college basketball fan in land on Friday as President Barack Obama invited the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team to the White House to celebrate its 2012 NCAA championship.  “The amazing thing is the first thing that was said when the horn sounded in New Orleans was, ‘We’re going to the White House!'” UK Coach John Calipari said in a statement. “I’m excited about the opportunity for them to meet the President of the United States, the leader of the free world and someone who is trying to make a difference in their lives.”
  3. In the wake of the growing transfer controversy/discussion, Georgia head coach Mark Fox – who has an “open release policy” that allows players to transfer within the SEC – offered his thoughts. Among the highlights: “I think as coaches, as long as there hasn’t been tampering, I don’t see why you should preclude a kid on going somewhere where they can pursue their lifelong goals.” On the perceived injustice that players must sit out a year while coaches can move freely: “That’s not true. Coaches can’t move around freely. Coaches are bound by buyout agreements and everything else. That’s not accurate. If I wanted to leave Georgia, which I don’t and never want to … there’s a buyout in my contract that discourages that from occurring. For those who say coaches go wherever they want to go, that’s not true.”
  4. Among the remaining high-profile transfers is former Xavier guard Mark Lyons. He has three traditional powers on his short list: Kansas, Arizona, and Kentucky. He visited Kentucky on Monday. “I’m looking for a program that wins where I could play a major role,” Lyons said. While Lyons had a tumultuous season last year and Kentucky has no shortage of talented players, picking up a player with the experience and talent of Lyons would be a major boost for another title run in Lexington.
  5. According to a study by Ryan Brewer, an assistant professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, that ranked the nation’s college basketball programs by their “intrinsic value” and Kentucky placed only 16th… and more surprisingly, Louisville topped the report. “When you look at the revenue being produced from men’s basketball, the University of Louisville is far outperforming everyone else,” Brewer said. “It’s not just Kentucky. Kentucky spends a lot, too. In my evaluation, that (negatively) impacted their standing.” As you would expect Louisville fans are taking quite a bit of pride in this result. Kentucky fans will have to settle for their national championship trophy.
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SEC Morning Five: 03.08.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on March 8th, 2012

  1. In a Wednesday teleconference to preview Sunday’s release of the NCAA Tournament pairings, committee chairman Jeff Hathaway all but handed two of the four top seeds to Kentucky and Syracuse, each of whom entered their conference tournaments with a record of 30-1. “I think we all agree that if the season ended today, we know who the two best teams are,” he said. “If you’re looking at 3 and 4 on the first line and the entire second line, we have the same handful of teams in mind but where they would be laced will be a tremendous debate.”
  2. Georgia head coach Mark Fox took his team on a brief detour upon the Bulldogs’ arrival in New Orleans on Wednesday. He had the bus travel through the city’s Ninth Ward. “It’s one thing to see it on TV or hear about it from somebody else,” sophomore forward Marcus Thornton said. “But to actually see some of the damage yourself and see some of the places — there used to be a lot of homes that just aren’t there anymore. It kind of makes you stop for a second and be thankful for everything that’s fortunate in your life. I think it was a good experience for us all to see that.” Fox, who has a had a brother that used to live in New Orleans, did the same thing with his Nevada team in 2007 when they were in town for the NCAA Tournament.
  3. Mississippi State’s Rodney Hood declared himself “100 percent” healthy in advance of the Bulldogs’ SEC Tournament opener against Georgia. Hood, who suffered a deep bone bruise in his left knee late in the first half of a 73-64 loss to No. 1 Kentucky on Feb. 21, participated in a practice and shootaround yesterday without a brace protecting his knee. He played a total of 34 minutes in the Bulldogs’ two contests last week.
  4. LSU forward Malcolm White spent part of Wednesday answering questions about his takedown of Kentucky’s Anthony Davis in their January 28 meeting. “It was out of character,” White said. “I just made a bad play. I should have made a play on the ball.” White grabbed Davis from behind, and “flung him down to the ground” late the Wildcats’ 74-50 victory. The story goes on to say “As Davis sprawled in the lane, White walked away… and kept walking to the locker room. The referees called a flagrant foul and ejected White.”
  5. More and more of the holiday tournaments for next season have announced their fields. On Wednesday, the Gazelle Group announced the four participants of the “Champions Round” of the Legends Classic. Joining Indiana, UCLA and Georgetown will be Georgia. The four will meet at Brooklyn’s brand new Barclays Center, on November 19-20. Georgia participated in the CBE Classic this past November, losing to California and beating Notre Dame in Kansas City. Two seasons ago, the Bulldogs went 1-2 at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.
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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: 02.16.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on February 16th, 2012

  1. Arkansas remained one of three power conference schools (joining Boston College and Utah) to not own a road victory in Division I after being clubbed by Tennessee in Knoxville on Wednesday night. Among the 74 current power conference coaches, none of them owns a worse road record over the past two seasons than Mike Anderson. Anderson at Missouri went only 2-7 last year and this year’s Razorbacks are 0-8 so that porous road record could easily be reason #1 why they are likely NIT-bound and not returning the NCAAs for a fourth straight year, matching the program’s longest drought since the 1970s.
  2. Anderson and Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin, the SEC’s two first-year coaches, met for the first time on Wednesday night. Knoxville News Sentinel‘s Mike Strange writes that  the schools that hired these two coaches, both leaving schools in Missouri (and in Martin’s case at least a rumored candidate to replace Anderson), are satisfied with their respective choices.
  3. South Carolina’s Malik Cooke and Georgia head coach Mark Fox already knew each other quite well when the two schools met on Wednesday. Cooke played for Fox at Nevada for two years so of course when the Gamecocks and Bulldogs met for the first of two times this season Cooke took advantage of his chance to beat his former coach for the first time in three tries. He hit the game-winning shot with 20 seconds left. “He’s just a winner,” Fox said. “I hate to see the ball in his hands.” “I respect him a lot,” Cooke said about Fox, “but I was just trying to get a win for South Carolina because we really needed one.”
  4. Kentucky opened up its practice to the public on Wednesday, allowing students, faculty, staff and a national television audience in on the top-ranked Wildcats’ preparation as they seek to become the first team since 2003 to finish the Southeastern Conference undefeated.”I want the students into it, I want the players alert and focused through the week,” head coach John Calipari said. “Our practices are pretty consistent in how we go about it, then it turns into … `Why don’t we call ESPN?’ Then it was like, ‘I bet it rates higher than games.’ It’s Kentucky. That’s the Kentucky Effect.”
  5. Sports Illustrated‘s Zac Ellis found former Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton and his new career path he has charted for himself since resigning in June. Hamilton began work in October as the president of U.S. Operations for Blood:Water Mission, “a non-profit organization based in Nashville that addresses Africa’s clean water and HIV/AIDS crises, two of the leading causes of orphanage in sub-Saharan Africa.” Hamilton has three adopted children from Africa, one of whom, five-month-old Kalu,  is HIV-positive. There are certainly worse things he could be doing with his time.
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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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