SEC Morning Five: 12.27.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 27th, 2011

  1. Mississippi received a nice present under the tree as forward Murphy Holloway‘s MRI revealed that his injury against Middle Tennessee State University was only a bad high ankle sprainAndy Kennedy said that Holloway can return to practice as soon as he regains “strength and mobility.” Kennedy and the Rebels will need Holloway back as soon as possible. Holloway is the team’s leading rebounder with 9.6 rebounds per game, and he adds in 9.9 points. The Rebs have lost their last two games in a row, and hit the road to face a tough Dayton team that already knocked off Alabama earlier in the year.
  2. Mississippi State freshman Rodney Hood may not have come in with the hype that many SEC freshmen had, but his play is making quite the statement. Hood has come along quickly averaging 12.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. He has focused his practice on mid-range jumpers and it shows. Hood has connected on 62% of his two point field goals this year. “The first part of the season, I was just finding my way,” Hood said. “Now I’m coming into my own.” Rick Stansbury obviously likes what he sees as Hood leads the team in minutes at 33.2 minutes per game.
  3. Georgia has struggled in the second half of games this year, blowing halftime leads against Colorado, Cincinnati, and Georgia Tech. Just when it looked like the Bulldogs may let another lead slip out of their grasp, the players dug a little deeper to put together a non-conference win against Furman. “Our team executed very well tonight,” coach Mark Fox said. Freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope stepped up big, showing a major display of leadership. “I realized that we were starting to slack on defense,” Caldwell-Pope said. “So I just tried to help my team by creating steals, help on the drive, and rebound and I did that.” Georgia will need more than just Caldwell-Pope to step up though. The Bulldogs have struggled on offense (131st in adjusted offensive efficiency) with only one other player averaging double figures in scoring (senior Gerald Robinson at 13.6 PPG).
  4. Patric Young is a freak of nature. We all know that, right? But did you see his block on Thursday night? It is clear that Young is beginning to turn some heads with his tremendous play as of late. It is clear that he is a much better player this year than the developing freshman that averaged 3.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game last year. Sometimes, a SportsCenter type highlight is all we need to remind us of that. “Whenever you block somebody’s shot and pull it down with one hand, that’s making ‘SportsCenter,'” Young said. Yes, it will. The highlight reels are nice, but I think Billy Donovan will be more impressed with Young connecting on 63.3% effective field goal percentage, and snagging a solid 11.6 offensive rebounding percentage. Those numbers should lead to Young getting more than the 18.9% of shots (sixth on the team) that he takes in the Florida offense.
  5. LSU‘s play of late is putting the team in good company. The last time a Tigers’ team won three road wins in non-conference play was 1985-86. You may remember that LSU team was the lowest seeded team at the time (#11 — now tied with VCU and George Mason) to go to a Final Four. The Tigers have won on the road against Houston, Rutgers, and North Texas. Defense has been the key to the Tigers’ successful run. LSU has held six straight opponents under 60 points, in what is believed to be the first time since the 1952-53 Tigers held six straight teams under 60. This team also has a couple of bad losses to go with those wins — a loss at Coastal Carolina and at home against South Alabama. Which version of Trent Johnson‘s squad will show up when the Tigers get the opportunity for quality RPI games against Virginia, Ole Miss, and Alabama in the next two and a half weeks will be a big determinant in how successful the Tigers are this season.
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SEC Morning Five: 12.23.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 23rd, 2011

  1.  In Mississippi’s 68-56 loss to Middle Tennessee State, the Rebels’ guards failed to take care of the basketball turning it over 21 times. Freshman Jelan Kendrick, playing in just his second collegiate game ever, might be the answer Andy Kennedy needs at point guard. Kendrick turned the ball over just one time while scoring eight points, dishing out three assists, grabbing four steals, and securing three rebounds.”I’m just looking for somebody that doesn’t throw it to the other team,” Kennedy said. “I don’t mean that flippantly, but that’s the truth.” Although that might be the first time we have ever heard a coach use the term “flippantly”, the point, both literally and figuratively, is not lost. Kennedy gave Kendrick a chance to restore his troubled career, and he may give the 6’7″ guard a chance to run this Rebels team at the point guard position.
  2. Kenny Boynton‘s increases in field goal and three point shooting percentages are not by chance or simply another year of experience. Boynton reviews film after each game to improve upon his shot selection. “I watch the whole game,” Boynton said. “Every game. I’m looking at the shots I’ve taken. Were they open shots or tough shots? I didn’t do that my first two years. It’s really helped me a lot, because it’s helped me learn about shot selection.” Boynton is averaging 18.3 points and 3.0 assists per game. His extra time has not only made him a better player, but has made Florida a legitimate SEC title contender.
  3. It’s the holiday season, and what Florida really needs in its stocking is a focus on entry passes to the low block for its big man Patric Young. Young is currently shooting 63.3% from the field, but his touches have been limited by an abundance of overzealous shooting guards on the perimeter. He is highly efficient and helps open up the three point shot in the inside-out game. Young’s best game of the year came against Arizona when he took 15 shots, converting on 12, to score 25 points and grab 10 rebounds. Now Florida’s guards need to make sure those kind of performances come more often for the center. And if it isn’t too much to ask, all I really want for Christmas is for Young to keep wearing those protective glasses. He is so much more intimidating in a cool pair of shades.
  4. Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney continues to make strides on the basketball court, and he is now making solid contributions for the Bulldogs. In his last three games, Sidney has averaged 14.6 points and 7.7 rebounds. “I’d like to still get more minutes from him but, again, I’ll take less minutes as long as they’re more productive,” Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury said. “There have been signs of him getting better.” While Sidney still breathes towards the end of games like a dog in 110 degree heat, he is averaging 21.8 minutes this season. Sidney’s increased presence in the post could give Mississippi State one of the most dominant frontlines in the country as forward Arnett Moultrie continues to be one of the most consistent performers in the SEC. Moultrie got his seventh double-double of the season against Northwestern State on Thursday.
  5. Speaking of Mississippi State, senior point guard Dee Bost still feels like the Bulldogs are underrated despite staking a solid spot in the polls. “I feel like people don’t respect us enough,” Bost said. “We just have to keep winning to get people’s respect. With polls, that’s people’s opinions. We have to keep winning because that’s all we can control.” MSU is playing top-10 ranked Baylor next week, and Bost, for one, is looking forward to the opportunity to knock off a talented team. “We have another chance to prove where we are in the nation. People don’t respect us. If we win that game, people will respect us.” Alright Bost, it’s a deal. Beat Baylor next week and you will have our respect. Fall short, and we reserve the right to keep questioning the Bulldogs’ legitimacy.
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Set Your TiVo: 12.21.11

Posted by EJacoby on December 21st, 2011

Evan Jacoby is an RTC columnist and contributor. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

After several consecutive slow weeknights, Wednesday night offers some very good games. All eyes should be tuned in, especially, to the ESPN2 early game.

Texas at #4 North Carolina – 7:00 PM EST on ESPN2 (****)

UNC Will Attack Texas With Their Forwards, Tonite on ESPN2 (Getty Images/P. Williams)

  • Since their collapse against NC State on November 21, Texas has won seven straight games by double digits, including some nice wins over Temple and at UCLA. Their talented guard combo of J’Covan Brown and Myck Kabongo is starting to click, with Brown’s numbers up to 19.3 points and 4.3 assists per game and Kabongo at 10.8 points and 6.0 assists per contest. Four of the Longhorns’ five leading scorers are freshmen, including Kabongo and exciting reserve guard Sheldon McClennan. The Longhorns are ranked seventh nationally with 1.18 points per possession and eighth in overall offensive efficiency (117.5). For Texas to hang in this game, they’ll need their young guards to keep scoring at a high rate, and hope to contain UNC’s massive frontcourt from dominating the offensive boards.
  • North Carolina has a massive size, experience, home court, and overall talent advantage in this game, which is why they’re 10-point favorites. Look for the Tar Heels to feature Tyler Zeller and John Henson inside to feast on Texas’s smaller front line. The bigs should be able to control this game on the boards, where UNC ranks 16th nationally in offensive rebounds per game, and number one overall on the defensive glass. Even if Texas’s guards can score effectively, Carolina can counter with its wing scorers of Harrison Barnes, Dexter Strickland, and Reggie Bullock, lead by the nation’s top assist man in Kendall Marshall (10.2 APG).
  • Texas has won four straight games against Carolina since 1995. The Longhorns are playing well and will certainly be ready for this game. But it’s hard to envision UNC losing this one at home given their huge advantage in the paint and with just as many talented guards. Expect a super exciting, high scoring affair between two of the top programs in the country, with Roy Williams’ team coming out on top.

Seton Hall at Dayton – 7:00 PM EST, no TV (***)

  • This is a huge road test for 9-1 Seton Hall, whose only loss came in the finals of the Charleston Classic against Northwestern. Senior Herb Pope has been an absolute stud all year and he leads the Big East in scoring (22.1 PPG) AND rebounding (11.9 RPG). His fellow senior leader, point guard Jordan Theodore, leads the conference in assists with 7.1 per game. Sophomore guard Fuquan Edwin leads the Big East in steals per game with 3.4 per contest. He and Theodore each average about 14 points per game, as well. This dangerous trio will look to lead coach Kevin Willard’s team to a big road win and legitimize their strong start to the season.
  • Dayton is a talented but very inconsistent team. They have strong wins over Alabama, Wake Forest, and Minnesota on their resume, but they also have a shocking home loss to Buffalo by 29 (!) points. They lost road games to Miami (Ohio) and Murray State, as well. First year coach Archie Miller’s team has five players that average nine or more points per game, lead by junior lead guard Kevin Dillard. A transfer from Southern Illinois, Dillard leads the team in scoring (11.9 PPG), assists (5.1 APG), and steals (2.3 SPG).
  • This game is not televised nationally or on ESPN3.com, but be sure to follow along, or even watch if it’s being shown locally. Dayton is a four-point home favorite in this one, but this is anyone’s game. The Flyers have several big home wins and another awful home loss. Seton Hall will look to control the game with the dominant Pope inside, who will be a load to handle for Dayton’s short interior players. I’d take Seton Hall and their experienced leaders to come out with the road win, but this one could go either way.

Middle Tennessee State at Mississippi – 9:00 PM EST on ESPN3.com (***)

  • Middle Tennessee is coming off a big home win over Belmont to push its record to 10-2. They are the class of the Sun Belt Conference, and are only two-point underdogs in this game. When you factor in the three-point cushion given to home teams in Vegas lines, that means MTSU is considered the slightly better team. This is a fair assessment, as the Raiders have an impressive trio of upperclassmen in guard Marcos Knight and forwards LaRon Dendy and J.T. Sulton who all average at least 12 points and 6 rebounds per game. These three all shoot at least 53.6% from the field, as well, which powers the nation’s best field goal shooting team (53.2% as a team for the year).
  • Ole Miss also comes into this game with just two losses, the most recent of which came on Saturday at a pretty good Southern Miss team. Ole Miss features five players that average nine points or more, lead by junior Murphy Holloway’s 10.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Not included in their five leading scorers is new addition Jelan Kendrick, who is now eligible for Mississippi after transferring from Memphis when he was kicked off the team at the beginning of this year. Kendrick is a very talented freshman who could start to make his mark tonight. Andy Kennedy’s team will have the athleticism advantage in this game, such as their 6.2 blocks per game which ranks 13th in the country.
  • This game might be the best of the 9:00PM EST slate, so be sure to have ESPN3 ready on your computer even if you’re tuned in to the television for another game. We expect Ole Miss to take care of business at home, but MTSU will offer a great challenge and could come out with another impressive victory.

Oklahoma State at Alabama – 9:00 PM EST on ESPN2 (***)

  • Oklahoma State comes into this game at 6-4 having lost two straight games. The Cowboys have a collection of talented players but have not found the best way to utilize their pieces; nine different players have been in the starting lineup in the first 10 games. LeBryan Nash, the McDonald’s All-American freshman, is starting to play better of late, seeing his minutes increase in the past three games. He’s now up to 12.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game for the season. Markel Brown is a talented sophomore guard (9.7 PPG) and Cezar Guerrero is a freshman with a quick trigger that can fill it up in a hurry (7.7 PPG), though takes plenty of questionable shots per game. Upperclassmen Jean-Paul Olekemi (9.7 PPG) and, especially, Keiton Page (12.7 PPG) are the leaders of the team that will look to ignite the upset in this one.
  • Alabama was ranked in the top 15 to begin this month, but the Crimson Tide have suffered three disappointing losses in the past three weeks, albeit to some good teams. Anthony Grant’s team lost at home to Georgetown on a game-winning three from the Hoyas, and they followed that one with two road losses to Dayton and Kansas State. Bama has had trouble scoring in those games. They aren’t a very effective offensive team, with a 104.8 efficiency that ranks 120th nationally. The Tide get it done on the defensive end where they allow an eFG% of 40.6 that is seventh best in the country. Jamychal Green, Tony Mitchell, and Trevor Releford are big time athletes who all average double figure scoring and can lock down defensively.
  • This game is technically not a home game for Alabama, since it is being played in Birmingham as part of the 2011 Legacy Credit Union Holiday Classic. But for all intents and purposes, consider the Crimson Tide the home team as they will draw the much larger crowd in their home state. Bama has fallen victim to a few upsets this season, as they were the favored team in all three of their losses. But don’t expect a repeat in this one, as Oklahoma State is still a work in progress and the solid defense of Alabama should lead them to a victory.

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 201
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

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SEC Morning Five: 12.16.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 16th, 2011

  1. While Florida‘s guard play has been the most talked about aspect of the roster, the Gators are actually more effective when distributing the ball down low to center Patric Young. There are a lot of great points per possessions stats in Ballin is a Habit’s breakdown, but the most interesting to us is the amount of double teams in the low post. In nine games thus far this year, Young has been double teamed three times. I went back and read the post just to make sure: that’s right, three times in nine games. Florida’s reliance on three point shots (39.2% of its total points according to kenpom.com) and accuracy from behind the line (40.3%) prohibit opposing defenses from double teaming Young, yet he is extremely accurate (58.7 eFg%). He simply doesn’t get the ball as often as he probably should. Young is fifth on the team in the percentage of possessions used (20.5%) behind Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton, Bradley Beal, and Mike Rosario. Notice any similarities between those four players? Yep, those are Florida’s aforementioned and often talked about guards dominating the majority of possessions.
  2. As mentioned in yesterday’s SEC Morning Five, Jelan Kendrick was eligible to play in his first game Wednesday night for Ole Miss, but did not even dress due to a “coach’s decision”. It appears that Kendrick hasn’t changed much from his old ways. The troubled guard was late for a team meeting on Tuesday night, and then showed up thirty minutes late for a team shootaround on Wednesday. That sort of behavior is exactly what landed Kendrick in trouble at Memphis where he was kicked off the team before ever playing a game. And if he keeps this up, his streak of watching his teams from the sidelines will certainly continue. Andy Kennedy doesn’t need this kind of headache regardless of Kendrick’s talent level.
  3. Should the College of Charleston students have rushed the court after beating a downtrodden Tennessee team? Regardless of your feelings on whether schools should RTC at all, we can all agree that the Volunteers weren’t a worthy adversary for College of Charleston to rush the court. The Vols are 3-6 on the year, and were actually the underdog playing on the road last night. But GoVolsXtra went one step further, calling their hometown team a mid-major basketball program. Ouch, that has to hurt. Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin has to be given credit, however, for playing a difficult schedule in his first year at the helm. And College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins gave him that praise. “I want to thank Cuonzo Martin,” Cremins said. “He honored the contract that we made with Bruce Pearl. I appreciate them coming here. They brought a great atmosphere. It was a great win for us.” Martin has the respect of opposing coaches, but will he have the patience of Tennessee fans and blogs to dig the Vols out of mid-major hell? Tennessee has losses to Austin Peay and Oakland to go along with this loss to the Cougars.
  4. At this time two years ago, Jeronne Maymon was averaging about four points and four rebounds for Marquette. Not making the impact he had hoped for, Maymon decided it was best to seek out a new beginning by transferring to Tennessee. Although Maymon probably didn’t transfer from Marquette envisioning losses like this one on Wednesday night. The power forward was limited to nine points in the loss to the College of Charleston. But the Vols need more production from Maymon. He was impressive when he poured in 32 points and 20 rebounds in a loss to Memphis in the Maui Invitational. Since that point, his production has been somewhat limited. In the five games after that tough loss to the Tigers, Maymon hasn’t reached double figures in rebounding at all and has only reached double figures in points twice. Tennessee needs Maymon to climb out of this hole.
  5. The Worldwide Leader recognizes the charitable work that Arkansas forward Michael Sanchez has done off the court. “He’s got a service heart,” said his mother, Kim. “He’d do anything for anybody.” Sanchez is currently growing his hair out for locks for love. While many assumed he was growing his hair out to keep current with the new style, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. “Trust me, this isn’t about style points,” Sanchez said. “People might think I want attention, and I guess in some ways I do. Just not for myself.”  Sanchez has been somewhat hobbled this year by injuries limiting his production on the court. While he hasn’t made the impact he would probably like for Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks, he is certainly making an impact on others. It is great to see that basketball players can use their influence and visibility on the court to help those in need off of it.
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SEC Set Yer TiVo: Dead Week Edition

Posted by Gerald Smith on December 13th, 2011

Students across SEC schools are finishing up their term papers and cramming for finals before the Christmas break. To help their students, most schools have scheduled a bunch of high-calorie cupcakes for this week’s game. Beware of the sugar crash! A team might sleep through their on-court exam and end up with an embarrassing grade.

Which games are worth the extra case of Red Bull, and which you should just sleep through?

Tennessee at Charleston — Wednesday, December 14 at 9 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN3 (***)

In the midst of a three-game losing streak — including an embarrassing 74-70 home loss to Austin Peay last Saturday — Tennessee has squandered a scrappy, feel-good start to the season. In order to build any momentum for being included on the NCAA Tournament bubble come March, Cuonzo Martin‘s team must stop the slide in the Carolina First Center. The College of Charleston has racked up an impressive 7-1 record this season with wins at Clemson and on a neutral court against UMass. They should win the Southern Conference and by extension make a potential win by Tennessee look especially good to the NCAA Selection Committee.

Tennessee Is the Only SEC Team Facing A Legitimate Threat This Week

Tennessee will need to find the defensive pressure of olden times to pull off the upset. For the season the Cougars are shooting 46.6% from the field and all five starters shoot better than 45%. Tennessee is 0-4 when allowing their opponents to shoot better than 43% from the field. Charleston is getting out-rebounded by their opponents by an average of three per game. If Tennessee can use their athleticism and length to contest shots and dominate the defensive glass, it will fuel their transition game and possibly help them avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006.

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SEC Morning Five: 12.12.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 12th, 2011

  1. Kentucky played really well on Saturday considering it was without its best player playing in a hostile environment against Indiana. Ok, so technically Terrence Jones played for the Wildcats, but he performed quite a disappearing act. “These guys are not machines, guys,” John Calipari said. “They’re not computers. They have bad games. You move on. Hopefully he plays better from here on. Maybe five games from now he has another bad game. You try to win without him.” In the end, the Hoosiers were too much to handle for the Cats with Jones playing the worst game of his career. Jones was limited to 28 minutes, four points on only three shot attempts, one rebound, and six turnovers. He failed to hedge on pick-and-roll situations multiple times leaving his teammates out of position on penetration. Jones’ defensive deficiencies helped create a 10-point deficit mid-way through the second half. What was even more alarming was Jones’ attitude as he sulked his way through almost the entire second half.
  2. The sky isn’t completely falling in Lexington. There were some positives from the Indiana loss for the young Wildcats, mainly the emergence of Marquis Teague in the second half. Teague played about as badly as I have seen a point guard play in the first half. He missed several open layups, he turned the ball over, and he failed once again to lead his team. But the second half was a different story. During the second 20 minutes, Teague was 6-6 for 15 points and one assist in 16 solid minutes. Anyone can see that Teague’s development at point guard is key to Kentucky’s play this season.
  3. Florida coach Billy Donovan had a heart-to-heart with his starting guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton regarding ill-advised shot selection following a combined 5-27 shooting night against Arizona. Walker and Boynton received the message loud and clear as both responded with improved play on Friday night against Rider. “I think sometimes those two guys get misconstrued of what they are about,” Donovan said. “They want to win and they have a strong desire to win. I do think that’s what makes them both great players is there is a fearlessness there of wanting to go out there and do it.” Boynton finished with a season-high 26 points and Walker added 12 points and four assists. Florida’s guard play has been both a strength and a weakness at times this year. The Gators have the talent to be a team that could win the SEC, but their guards can be overly selfish and can rely too heavily on outside shooting.
  4. Andy Kennedy‘s Mississippi Rebels have been a surprise so far this season at 8-1 overall, but the Rebels still have to work on their offensive efficiency. Ole Miss is shooting 27% from three-point range and 59% from the free throw line. “We’ve really struggled,” Kennedy said about Ole Miss’ offensive struggles. The Rebels currently average 69.3 points per game which is 153rd in the country and an adjusted offensive efficiency of 99.7 for 171st in the country. 5’11” guard Dundrecous Nelson takes 31.4% of the Rebels shots, but he has an effective field goal percentage of just 43%. Look for Kennedy to work forward Murphy Holloway more into the Rebels offense as his efficiency is much higher than the remainder of his teammates, yet he is only averaging just over 11 points per game.
  5. Mississippi State enjoyed a 106-68 blowout win over Troy on Saturday. Despite their usual reliance on the inside game, the Bulldogs tied a school record with 16 three-pointers. Forward Arnett Moultrie still did plenty to establish himself on the low block with 20 points and 12 rebounds, but it was the outside shooters who helped MSU run away with this one. Senior Dee Bost was 7 for 13 from beyond the arc on his way to 28 points. Even Renardo Sidney got in on the action with a three of his own, his first of the season, mid-way through the first half. The 51.6% shooting clip was the first time Mississippi State has shot over 50% from three-point range this year. The Bulldogs are now 9-1 on the season. Not coincidentally, in their lone loss this year against Akron, the Dogs shot 2 of 13 (15.4%) from three.
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SEC Morning Five: 12.07.2011 Edition

Posted by Gerald Smith on December 7th, 2011

  1. When you hang banners in Rupp Arena, then you make that money! On Tuesday the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees approved a contract extension for basketball coach John Calipari, making him the highest paid college basketball coach in the nation. Including money for broadcasting and endorsements, Calipari will make $3.7 million the first year; if he stays through the eight-year duration, he will make $4.5 million in his final year. Compared to college football’s highest-paid coaches, the Kentucky basketball coach’s salary is less than Texas’ Mack Brown ($5.2 million/yr) and just five other coaches, including the SEC’s Nick Saban ($4.8 million) and Les Miles ($3.75 million), but it’s certainly not too shabby.
  2. The season series with North Carolina and Kentucky is now awaiting renewal. Officials from both schools aren’t exactly rushing out to secure the series, including newly-minted coach John Calipari. The Kentucky coach spoke on his radio show about removing one of the heads of the “three-headed monster” — UNC, Louisville and Indiana — in Kentucky’s non-conference schedule. The coach argued that one of the traditional rivals must be dropped to allow for a projected increase of SEC conference games and to protect his ever-constant flow of talented freshmen recruits. Calipari later clarified on his CoachCal.com web site that Kentucky’s schedule should be tailored to the players and the team. Ultimately, Calipari is trying to find a solution for two problems: Traditional rivalry games don’t make the kind of broadcasting money that justifies the risk of losing; and without an earlier start for team practices, Calipari’s freshmen-loaded squads will always be more vulnerable in high-profile December games against traditional powerhouses. A Kentucky non-conference schedule without North Carolina would be strange but acceptable if Kentucky continues to sign up for marquee events like the State Farm Champions Classic. We think that a Kentucky season without engaging long-time regional rivals Louisville and Indiana, however, would just be wrong.
  3. One regional rivalry that won’t be going away anytime soon: Georgia vs. Georgia Tech. The two in-state foes will clash for the 188th time on the hardwood tonight. This is truly a home-grown event: The Atlanta Constitution-Journal’s preview highlights that ten of fourteen players on each teams’ roster grew up in the Peach State. The Yellowjackets have not won at Stegeman Coliseum since 1976, though the teams played at a neutral court for 14 years since that time. (For more info about tonight’s games, check out our Set Yer TiVo post.)
  4. Good news for people who love Gator news: Erik Murphy has recovered from his knee injury and should play against Arizona tonight. The 6’10” junior missed three games since November 25 after suffering a bone bruise in practice. Murphy was a key figure in keeping Florida within reach in its seven-point loss to then #3 Ohio State and was desperately missed in the four-point loss against then #4 Syracuse. Arizona has been using a three-guard lineup recently, which may allow Murphy to contribute more inside-the-paint than outside of it.
  5. In this week’s SEC Check-In — which you checked out, right? — we rewarded Mississippi with a #4 position in our Power Rankings due to its ability to gut out wins against good-not-great opponents. The difference between this Rebels team and last year’s team is the lack of guard Chris Warren. Red Cup Rebellion wonders whether Warren’s absence is providing an example of a Ewing Theory-like effect on coach Andy Kennedy’s team. RCR notes that current guards Jarvis Summers and Nick Williams in particular have been controlling the offense more effectively than Warren’s efforts last season. With former McDonald’s All-American and Memphis transfer Jelan Kendrick becoming eligible for a December 10 game against Mississippi Valley State, Ole Miss will need to adapt to continue their impressive tough-win streak.
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Big 12 Morning Five: 11.25.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on November 25th, 2011

  1. Less than 48 hours after Kansas and Duke played the game of the season to this point in college basketball, the folks at Rock Chalk Talk have provided a statistical breakdown of the game. Once you sort through all the numbers, one stat in particular jumps out: turnovers. When you consider that Tyshawn Taylor turned the ball over 11 times himself, it becomes even more remarkable that the Jayhawks took the Blue Devils to the wire. If Taylor fixes his issues, Kansas will have no problem competing for an eighth-straight Big 12 title.
  2. For all the talk about the death of rivalries like Kansas/Missouri and Texas/Texas A&M, it is easy to forget that West Virginia, the Big 12’s newest member, will actually end rivalries of its own by moving from the Big East. With WVU set to take on Pittsburgh in the Backyard Brawl, the Mountaineers face the same issues as the aforementioned teams. The two schools have been playing for more than a century, but the football game between them appears in jeopardy. The same scenario may play out in basketball, where the rivalry is just as heated. Just as we have clamored for Kansas  and Missouri to work out their problems and continue the Border War, consider this a plea for West Virginia to do the same. Rivalries are just good for college sports in general.
  3. In other news involving a future member of the Big 12… TCU‘s Craig Williams has just one more shot to get it right. The Virgin Islands Daily News sat down with the senior, a native of the territory, to discuss his time with the Horned Frogs. After transferring from Temple, Williams will now attempt to help coach Jim Christian turn the program around before it moves from the Mountain West to the Big 12. He may never appear in this conference, but he has a chance to start something special at TCU. The Horned Frogs, by the way, are 3-2 right now, having lost by double-digits to Norfolk State and Mississippi in the Paradise Jam.
  4. With both national polls set to release on Monday, it will be interesting to keep an eye on where Missouri finds itself. The Tigers were considered a fringe top-25 team before the season, but after beating Notre Dame and California by a combined 58 points in the CBE Classic, they could be looking at a top-10 ranking. The scary thing is that Missouri will not have to face a tough opponent until December 6  when it faces Villanova, so it should continue its winning ways until then at the very least. How high could these Tigers rise?
  5. And as Missouri jumps in the rankings, so does the popularity of coach Frank Haith. Considered a poor hire by almost everybody back in the spring, Haith did not make any new friends this summer when Nevin Shapiro accused him of acknowledging an illegal payment to a recruit at Miami. After the CBE Classic, however, Haith has probably made friends in every city in Missouri. He’s a rock star now. Funny how winning fixes a lot of things.
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SEC Morning Five: 11.25.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 25th, 2011

 

 

 

 

  1. Did anybody try cooking for Thanksgiving? It’s okay, sometimes things don’t turn out exactly how you planned. I’m sure everybody grinned and ate it anyway. Well, LSU‘s season isn’t turning out how coach Trent Johnson planned either. In their most recent game, they fell to South Alabama despite building a 12-point lead. “Like I told the team, you just can’t show up and expect to win a game, whether you are at home or on the road,” Johnson said. “The one thing that sort of concerns me is that although we had 17 assists and 11 turnovers, and when we got up 10, I thought we had some guys try to go off on their own a little bit.” LSU came into the game with a two-game win streak, but were out-rebounded by the Jaguars 42-31. This is the Tigers third loss of this early season. The problem for Johnson and the Tigers is that nobody is grinning and pretending to enjoy what is happening to this LSU team.
  2. The Georgia student newspaper, the Red and Black, says coach Mark Fox is optimistic about how his young Bulldogs are coming along. Fox was impressed with how his team responded after a difficult loss to California with a hard-fought win over Notre Dame the following night. But Georgia’s schedule just gets tougher from this point forward. “This schedule is challenging and for a young team, it’s extra challenging,” Fox said. “You gotta learn how to beat good teams and you don’t learn how to beat good teams by just playing bad ones. So we’re gonna have to grow up on the job. We’re gonna have a lot of teachable moments like we had against Cal and Notre Dame. There is just so much for this group to experience.” Georgia will get plenty of opportunities to grow up on the job as they play Xavier, Cincinnati, Colorado, and Southern California over the next few weeks. Freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has filled in to produce some much needed scoring with 13.2 points per game so far. The Dogs are counting on Caldwell-Pope to increase his field goal percentage (40.4%) as he gets more experience throughout the season.
  3. Arkansas is still learning to deal with the injury of leading scorer Marshawn Powell. Freshman Devonta Abron started in place of Powell against Utah Valley on Wednesday night and finished with three points and three rebounds. The entire frontcourt really struggled in Powell’s absence. Abron, Hunter Mickelson, Michael Sanchez, and Marvell Waithe combined to score six points and grab 13 rebounds. “We have to work with what we have now,” 6’2″ guard Madracus Wade said of Powell’s injury. “The young guys have to step up. … We’ve all got to get in there and rebound.” Arkansas won 67-59, but it is clear that Mike Anderson’s up-tempo system can’t run entirely on guard play. The Razorbacks have to find frontcourt production soon to avoid a major letdown in Anderson’s first year at the helm.
  4. Tennessee‘s narrow losses against #6 Duke and #8 Memphis have the Vols confident that they can play with anyone in the nation. A big reason for the Volunteers success in Maui was the outstanding play of power forward Jeronne Maymon who scored 32 points and grabbed 20 rebounds against Memphis. The performance was the first time a Division I player has scored at least 30 points and 20 rebounds in a game since Blake Griffin in 2009. “We know we’re good enough to play against anybody on any given night,” Maymon said. “Each night we go to practice like we’re getting ready for the No. 1-ranked team.” Maymon and Tennessee proved, despite losing two close games, that they were highly underrated with the potential to be an NCAA Tournament team. The Volunteers were picked to finish 11th in the SEC in the preseason and it is seems clear that the Vols will finish much higher than that.
  5. The Clarion-Ledger has a few observations from the first five Ole Miss games of the season. The most interesting note is just how bad the Rebels’ offensive efficiency has been this year. They are 17-97 (17.5%) from beyond the arc, bad enough for 340th in the nation. The Reb’s two point percentage is 49.8%, which is significantly better at 125th in the nation. Andy Kennedy seems to be struggling to replace do-it-all guard Chris Warren, who averaged 19.1 points per game last year. Terrance Henry is the Rebels leading scorer thus far with 12.2 points per game, but he is shooting at an alarming 41.2% from the field. The Rebels wins thus far are a bit misleading. While the Rebs are 4-1, a 30-point loss on Sunday to Marquette signifies that unless Kennedy can solve their offensive woes, more difficult times lie ahead for Ole Miss once they take a step up in competition.
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SEC Set Yer TiVo: Turkey Week Edition

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 21st, 2011

SEC Set Your TiVo will take a look ahead at each week’s key games. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

The SEC non-conference basketball schedule heads into Thanksgiving by finishing up its early season tournaments. Those already back from their tourney travels kick off the holiday week with an easy-as-pie opponent. Which games this week are the turkey meat and which are the store-bought cold bean salad that stays unserved on the kitchen counter?

Tennessee vs. #6 Duke (at Maui Invitational) – Monday, Nov. 21st 5:30 PM EST on ESPN2 (***)
Tennessee vs. #13 Memphis or #14 Michigan – Tuesday, Nov. 22nd 2:00 PM (or 7:00 PM) EST on ESPN2 (or ESPN) (****)
Tennessee vs. UCLA/Chaminade/#15 Kansas/Georgetown – Wednesday, Nov. 23rd (Time and TV TBD)

As the sole SEC representative in this year’s EA Sports Maui Invitational, Tennessee faces quite the gauntlet. First up are the Blue Devils, whose outside shooting (42% 3FG) and size advantage in 6’11” forwards Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly will be a significant advantage. The Volunteers will either need to find a way to score inside or keep riding a hot 3-point shooting streak (26 of 53 in two games) to find the exit with a victory. Memphis and Michigan have youthful teams that share a ghost-like quickness. Tennessee won’t out-shoot the Wolverines from deep and can’t out-run Memphis so Cuonzo Martin might have make some magic happen with his forwards in order for the Vols to overcome either team.

Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin really wants his team to stop shooting the magic potions. (Photo via AP Photo/The News Sentinel, Adam Brimer)

With one victory in Maui before Wednesday, Tennessee will find a key that helps open the door to an NCAA Tournament bid. With two straight losses, the Vols would likely face UCLA or Chamiade on Wednesday and their NCAA chances in trouble early in the season. Tuesday’s game will be probably the best to watch especially if in-state rival Memphis is involved.

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SEC Set Your TiVo: Weekend of 11.18.11

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 18th, 2011

SEC Set Your TiVo will take a look ahead at each week’s key games. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

The SEC got the Internets goin’ nuts this weekend. You’ll have to hook up your laptop to your TV if you want to catch nearly every game not involving Mississippi State, Mississippi or South Carolina. Check out our evaluations below for the games that’ll make you want to change television service providers to get The Tres.

#15 Arizona vs. Mississippi State (2K Classic Championship Game) – Friday, Nov. 18, 6:30PM EST on ESPN2 (***)

Renardo Sidney is available for basketball AND all your stamp-licking needs.

Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury finally found some redemption for an embarrassing loss at home to Akron last week. In Thursday night’s 2KSports CvC Classic Semifinals, the Bulldogs sprinted to a 31-9 lead in the first half and held off #18 Texas A&M’s comeback to win 69-60. MSU’s eight-man rotation forced 16 turnovers and committed just 16 fouls, limiting A&M’s free-throw attempts (10-14). Another tough defensive assignment awaits in Arizona, who defeated St. John’s in the other semifinal, 81-72.

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SEC Preseason Wrap-Up

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 14th, 2011

The college basketball season has tipped off, and we are well under way. There has already been plenty of action as some teams have injured superstars, out-of-shape stars, underappreciated stars and emerging stars. But there are plenty of stars in the SEC, nonetheless. Before we jump into the star studded matchups of Tuesday, let’s do a quick look back at our SEC microsite preview coverage from the last several weeks:

We looked at the non-conference schedules of several SEC teams to determine the three most important games in our Make or Break series:

We profiled several of the incoming transfers who will make an impact in the SEC this year through our Fresh Start series:

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