SEC Morning Five: 02.17.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on February 17th, 2012

  1. The SEC announced the 2012 Allstate® SEC Basketball Legends. The 12-man class will be honored at the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament March 8-11 at the New Orleans Arena. The 2012 class includes Jack Kubiszyn (Alabama), Nolan Richardson (Arkansas), Chris Morris (Auburn), Mike Miller (Florida),  Willie Anderson (Georgia), Adrian “Odie” Smith (Kentucky), Jack Waters (Ole Miss), Chuck Evans (Mississippi State), Henry Martin (South Carolina), Gene Tormohlen (Tennessee), and Drew Maddux (Vanderbilt). Each SEC Basketball Legend will be recognized at halftime of his institution’s first game at the tournament.
  2. While Vanderbilt was throttling Ole Miss, 102-76, on Thursday, much of the drama came outside the lines. In the game, the Rebels received three technical fouls, one because of some fans throwing ice on the floor for a second time. Andy Kennedy and Terrance Henry also received technical fouls by the end of the night. After the game, teammates Reginald Buckner and Jelan Kendrick had to be separated by the coaching staff after an argument. “When you played like we played there’s a lot of frustration to go around,” Kennedy said. “I’m sure some of that got misguided.” Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger filed this video regarding the altercation.
  3. In that win, Jeffery Taylor scored 28 points as he continued his ascension up the Vanderbilt scoring chart. At Taylor’s current average, Vanderbilt would need to make the SEC Tournament championship game, and the NCAA championship game for him to pass Foster.  The Tennessean’s Mike Organ spoke to Taylor and his teammates about his chances of taking down Shan Foster of the school’s all-time leading scorer. “I’ve always been among the top scorers on the team, but we’ve always had good scorers and we’ve always had a balanced team,” Taylor said. “But where I am on the (all-time) scoring list is nothing that I’ve ever really had that great an interest in.” Organ writes that “at Taylor’s current average, Vanderbilt would need to make the SEC Tournament championship game, and the NCAA championship game for him to pass Foster.
  4. As Auburn basketball is starting to see a uptick under Tony Barbee, the story of Tigers’ walk-on starting point guard Josh Wallace has picked up steam. Evan Woodbery writes how Wallace, the owner of a 4.45 GPA in high school, can balance his book studies with his playbook studies. “Engineering is a pretty tough major, and I guess to balance that and play a sport is pretty demanding on both ends,” Wallace said with a shrug. “So I guess people want talk about it a lot.”
  5. Jack Blankenship, the subject of the “SEC basketball photo of the year” has seen the popularity of the picture grow to the point where ESPN’s Dave Wilsonwrote about Blankenship’s sudden stardom. “I thought it’d be cool to find a way to get a picture of myself and bring it to the games and hold it up,” Blankenship said. “It’s been amazing. I’ve always wanted to be famous.”
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SEC Morning Five: 01.24.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 24th, 2012

  1. Ole Miss forward Terrance Henry was named SEC Player of the Week after his first double-double of the season. Henry played well in the Rebels’ win over Georgia with 24 points and 10 rebounds. He averaged 18 points, 6.5 rebounds and two assists on the week. While Henry scored 12 points, three rebounds and three assists in Ole Miss’ win over Mississippi State, it was his defense on point guard Dee Bost that helped stifle the Bulldogs’ offense. Tennessee freshman Jarnell Stokes was named SEC Freshman of the Week in just his second week with the Volunteers. He helped UT beat defending national champion Connecticut by averaging 13.5 points, 10 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, one assist and one steal. For Stokes to accomplish that in his second and third games of the season is even more impressive.
  2. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope must have great timing. He called to commit to the Georgia Bulldogs while coach Mark Fox was on an airplane ready for take-off. “He called me, I looked at my phone, and I said I better answer this,” Fox said. “So I answered my phone, and this flight attendant was saying: ‘You have to hang up your phone.’” As the plane took off, Fox lost the connection before Caldwell-Pope could finish the call. So when the freshman guard called back later that week, Fox was at dinner. The head coach knew exactly what to do though. “Left the table,” Fox said.  Caldwell-Pope’s 14.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game so far this season probably made that an easy decision for Fox.
  3. Guard Mike Rosario has helped turned the Gators’ bench from a liability in SEC play to a positive. Everyone is aware of Rosario’s offensive firepower, but he is getting additional playing time because of his commitment to the defensive end of the court. “Coach told me to stick my nose in there whenever I can to try to slap the ball and try to get a steal,” Rosario said. The strategy worked for the 6’3″ guard as he has four steals in his past three games. Prior to that, Rosario had not recorded a steal since December 17.
  4. First Kevin Stallings cried foul, and now Florida coach Billy Donovan is following suit. The Gators’ head man, just like Vanderbilt’s coach last week, is upset that Kentucky doesn’t go through the same rigors of conference scheduling as the rest of the SEC. “My problem with it is if you want to get more teams in the NCAA Tournament… our league should not put teams at a disadvantage competitively,” Donovan said. “I don’t think that’s right to the players, to the teams that are playing. I think we all agree that we need to play Thursday-Saturday-Tuesday. We’ve done it. But I think everybody needs to do it.” As mentioned last week in the SEC Morning Five, Kentucky is one of only three SEC teams that didn’t have the back-to-back scheduling issue that Florida and Vanderbilt (among others) had to endure. But if Donovan wants to argue that the SEC needs additional teams in the NCAA Tournament, then he also must understand that exposure helps in that endeavor. And the best exposure for the SEC is a TV deal with the Worldwide Leader, and the Kentucky Wildcats are the basketball reason that deal is a reality.
  5. Former Oklahoma State starter Fred Gulley plans to join the University of Arkansas basketball team next season. He will sit out one year based on NCAA transfer rules, and will be eligible in the spring of the 2012-13 season. Prior to leaving the Cowboys this season, Gulley averaged 4.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in eight games. He is a 6’2″ guard, and is originally from Fayetteville, Arkansas. Arkansas will welcome the help. While the Razorbacks could use additional depth in the low post, coach Mike Anderson’s fast-paced style of play means that the Hogs can use healthy bodies at any position.
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SEC Morning Five: 1.20.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 20th, 2012

  1. Head coach Anthony Grant questioned the team mentality of his Alabama squad after a 56-52 loss to Mississippi State on Saturday. “There’s a point in time when winning needs to take a priority over any individual things,” Grant said, “and I don’t think we understand that all the time.” If the Tide’s head man had questions over teamwork on Saturday, then he’s really going to ponder his club’s commitment following a 69-59 loss to Vanderbilt. Alabama trailed by as many as 23 in the second half, were outrebounded by 10, and shot just 33% as a team from the field. Rather than a lack of teamwork, maybe it’s a lack of shooting ability that has done the Crimson Tide in this season. Alabama is last in the SEC in made three-point field goals with under three per game.
  2. Forward Reginald Buckner was a huge factor in Mississippi’s first win over rival Mississippi State since January 31, 2009. Buckner pulled down 15 rebounds, blocked three shots, and scored a career-high 19 points. That’s a lot of production from the junior who averages 8.7 rebounds and just 6.8 points per game. “I thought he was tremendous,” Rebels coach Andy Kennedy said. “Obviously the difference in the game.” And not just any game — a much needed win for the up and down Rebels. “It was a statement game,” Buckner said. “We’re back in it. We’re back in the race.” Which race exactly is yet to be determined.
  3. Mississippi State point guard Dee Bost is an emotionally driven player who can trash talk with the best of them, but usually backs up his talk with positive play on the court. Bost made plenty of noise before the game, but came up short in the Bulldogs loss on Wednesday night. Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy set out to frustrate Bost by defending him with the length of 6’10″ forward Terrance Henry. And it worked. Bost was four of 15 from the field for 15 points, but scored a flurry of eight points in the final 42 seconds of the game after the final outcome was already decided. “We thought the length would bother him, which it did a little bit,” Kennedy said. Bost has been the key to Mississippi State’s five-game winning streak against Ole Miss prior to this loss. In the 69-64 win in Oxford last season, Bost came up huge for the Bulldogs with 25 points, six rebounds, and eight assists.
  4. Kentucky forward Terrence Jones credits a new attitude for his recent 13-point, nine-rebound performance against Arkansas. “I’m just not thinking as much,” Jones said. “Just being less conscious about my hand. Worrying about messing up because I wasn’t playing like I was as a freshman. Just thinking too much about every little play.” Jones refuses to use his finger injury as an excuse for his poor play, which is appropriate considering his struggles started well before the December 17th setback. The 6’8″ power forward has yet to record a double-double this season, despite reaching that mark thirteen times as a freshman.
  5. Billy Donovan is looking to his bench to fill the void left by the ankle injury of center Patric Young. “Pat is obviously a big part of our team,” Florida forward Erik Murphy said. “He’s going through a little bit of an injury, and we have got to pick up the slack, step up. All of us collectively as a group need to.” Young is expected to play on Saturday against LSU, but how much and how effective he is remains to be seen. If Young is unable to play significant minutes, Donovan could turn to freshman Cody Larson. “I’m gaining more and more confidence and trust in Cody,” Donovan said. “I’ve put him in now the last several games, and he’s given us some good minutes.” Young was limited to just 13 minutes in the Gators’ last game against South Carolina.
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Big East/SEC Challenge Face-Off: Thursday Night Games

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 1st, 2011

To preview the match-ups in the Big East/SEC Challenge, the RTC Big East & SEC Microsites are facing off in conversational analysis. Brian Joyce and Michael Lemaire take on Ole Miss vs. DePaul and Alabama vs. Georgetown. 

Mississippi at DePaul – 9:00 p.m. (ET) ESPNU

Mike: At first glance, this looks like one of the least compelling match-ups. A tale of two teams we still really don’t know much about, DePaul doesn’t play defense (#190 in adjusted defense), but their only blemish is a one-point loss to 6-1 Minnesota. Mississippi is #29 in adjusted defense, but they haven’t played a difficult schedule and their loss was a 30-point bludgeoning at the hands of Marquette. The Blue Demons have two talented sophomores in Brandon Young (12.6 PPG, 3.7 APG) and Cleveland Melvin (14.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG), but their bench is very young. All things equal I would be inclined to pick Mississippi, but they are coming off a tiring 64-61 overtime win against Miami and they are due for a letdown. Prediction: DePaul 70 — Mississippi 68

Brian: I agree that this doesn’t appear to be especially compelling, but this game could get interesting. The difference in the Minnesota-DePaul game was the 23 offensive rebounds by the Golden Gophers. That and Trevor Mbakwe’s 16 points and 12 rebounds. In short, the Blue Demons struggled on the interior, and that is exactly where Ole Miss will attack. 6’7” forward Murphy Holloway (10.8 PPG, 10.2 RPG) and 6’9” forward Terrance Henry (12.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG) will be tough for Depaul to stop on the low block. I think this game will be a close one, but the Rebels have too much inside for Depaul to handle. Prediction: Mississippi 64 – DePaul 60

Will Thompson and his Hoyas be ready for Alabama's defense?

Georgetown and Alabama should be one of the more interesting games of the entire Big East/SEC challenge.

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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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Inconsistencies in SEC Preseason Awards Overshadows Positives

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 10th, 2011

The SEC Men’s Basketball Coaches Preseason All-SEC Awards were released yesterday, and they demonstrate the ridiculousness of preseason awards by demeaning the entire process. In a season where there is more talent in the SEC than any year in recent memory, the inconsistencies among the coaches’ decisions is troubling. The 2011-12 SEC Coaches first and second teams are as follows:

First Team All-SEC

  • G Dee Bost, Mississippi State
  • G Kenny Boynton, Florida
  • C Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
  • F JaMychal Green, Alabama
  • G John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
  • F Terrence Jones, Kentucky
  • G/F Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt
  • G Erving Walker, Florida

Hey, Where Are the Freshmen SEC Stars Like Brad Beal?

Second Team All-SEC

  • F Reginald Buckner, Ole Miss
  • G Doron Lamb, Kentucky
  • G Darius Miller, Kentucky
  • F Tony Mitchell, Alabama
  • F Marshawn Powell, Arkansas
  • G Trevor Releford, Alabama
  • G Gerald Robinson, Georgia
  • F Renardo Sidney, Miss. State
  • F/C Patric Young, Florida

I have three major issues with this list:

  1. An All-Conference award team should consist of five players. Not eight. Not nine. Five. This is not an environment where everyone receives a trophy, and we should honor as many players as possible. Placing eight players on the first team and nine on the second team devalues the prestige of receiving the honor in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »
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SEC Fresh Start: Jelan Kendrick

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 1st, 2011

The Fresh Start series will profile a new coach or eligible transfer who will make an impact in the Southeastern Conference this season. The next player in the series is Memphis Tiger transfer and new Ole Miss guard/forward, Jelan Kendrick.

Talk about needing a fresh start. Jelan Kendrick has no shortage of talent. He is the first McDonald’s All American to ever sign with Ole Miss. But along with those honors, he brings a lot of baggage with him to Oxford. Kendrick was kicked off the Memphis team last year before ever playing a game after he threatened a teammate. While he has the talent to make an immediate impact for the Rebels, can Kendrick get everything else in order to be productive?

Jelan Kendrick is Mississippi's first McDonald's All American

Ole Miss is looking for a scorer to replace all-SEC star Chris Warren, and Kendrick could be the player to step up and help fill some of that void. Rebels coach Andy Kennedy is excited to see what Kendrick can do: “I’m anxious to see if he can come in and evolve into the player I think he’s potentially capable of. His greatest calling card is his versatility and ability to facilitate — not for himself but for others. He can play the one, and either one of our wings. His length and size give him the ability to defend multiple positions. I don’t want to get overly excited because the kid’s never played a second of college basketball, but we’ve seen him in practice and know what he’s capable of doing physically.”

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The Best of the Rest: A Look at SEC standouts Not Selected to All-SEC Preseason Teams

Posted by Brian Joyce on October 25th, 2011

SEC and national media members selected their All-SEC and POY selections Monday morning. Their choices were as follows:

First Team All-SEC
  • JaMychal Green, Alabama – F, 6-8, 228, Sr., Montgomery, Ala.
  • Terrence Jones, Kentucky – F, 6-9, 252, So., Portland, Ore.
  • Dee Bost, Mississippi State – G, 6-2, 176, Sr. , Concord, N.C.
  • John Jenkins, Vanderbilt – G, 6-4, 220, Jr., Hendersonville, Tenn.
  • Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt – G/F, 6-7, 225, Sr., Norrkoping, Sweden
Second Team All-SEC
  • Anthony Davis, Kentucky – F, 6-10, 220, Fr., Chicago, Ill.
  • Doron Lamb, Kentucky – G, 6-4, 210, So., Queens, N.Y.
  • Darius Miller, Kentucky – G, 6-8, 235, Sr., Maysville, Ky.
  • Kenny Boynton, Florida – G, 6-2, 189, Jr., Pompano Beach, Fla.
  • Erving Walker, Florida – G, 5-8, 177, Sr., Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt – C, 6-11, 255, Sr., Benin City, Nigeria
SEC Player of the Year: Terrence Jones, Kentucky
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RTC Summer Updates: Southeastern Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 1st, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our SEC correspondent, Gerald Smith.  This season he will be covering the NCAA Basketball with zeal, nerd-culture references and a fistful of silliness at halftimeadjustment.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@fakegimel).

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

  • One Big, Mostly-Happy Conference: After several years of divisional lopsidedness in conference scheduling and tournament seeding – to the dismay of programs like Alabama — the SEC has merged the West and East divisions for basketball. A 16-game conference schedule, consisting of the same pairings within and across old divisions, remains for the 2011-12 season. Starting with this year’s SEC Tournament, teams will be seeded and awarded first-round byes by their overall conference record. The most vocal dissenter against peace, conference unity and love was Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury. He argued unsuccessfully that divisional championships create excitement for the fans. MSU athletics must have sold some awesome merchandise for Coach Stansbury’s six SEC West Division championships.
  • Too Much of a Good Thing? - Stansbury also argued that a united 12-team conference won’t produce a true champion unless each team plays a full 22-game home and away conference schedule. In July’s coaches’ conference call, some SEC coaches (South Carolina’s Darrin Horn & LSU’s Trent Johnson) agreed, but wonder if such a schedule is feasible. Other coaches (Kentucky’s John Calipari & Alabama’s Anthony Grant) believe that teams should worry more about strengthening their non-conference scheduling and RPI ratings. Increasing the schedule to at least 18 games would placate athletic directors and the SEC’s broadcast partners, but would add further scheduling imbalance and hysteria. In meetings, the decision to increase the number of conference games was postponed until after the 2011-12 season. The SEC coaches will meet again later in August to debate their options.
  • Missouri Newbies - Two coaches previously employed in the Show-Me State join the SEC during this period of conference remodeling. As an assistant under former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, new Arkansas coach Mike Anderson became very familiar with the “40 Minutes of Hell” system (and Coach Richardson’s snakeskin boot collection). After stops with UAB and Missouri, Anderson returned to Fayetteville to replace John Pelphrey.
  • Caught lying to cover-up his impermissible BBQ — mmmm… impermissible BBQ… *gurgle noise* — Tennessee was forced to fire Bruce Pearl. Missouri State’s Cuonzo Martin was hired to fill Pearl’s vacated orange blazer. With his athletic director resigning and additional NCAA penalties applied to his program, Martin may long for his past days in Springfield.

A major growth spurt led to a similar shoot up the 2011 high school rankings for Kentucky's Anthony Davis. (Sam Forencich/USA Basketball)

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Set Your Tivo: 11.17.10

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 17th, 2010

***** – 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 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

The college basketball world can relax a bit tonight after a full day of hoops yesterday. The action picks up in full force again on Thursday and Friday after two fairly interesting games this evening. All times eastern.

Murray State @ Mississippi – 8 pm on ESPN3.com/ESPN FullCourt (***)

The Racers of Murray State knocked off Vanderbilt in a memorable first round NCAA Tournament game last season so Mississippi better be on full alert tonight. Murray State is being talked about again as a possible mid-major surprise again in the tournament and why not? They return five of their seven top scorers from last year’s team that won 31 games and the Ohio Valley Conference. Murray State only lost by two to national runner-up Butler, certainly an impressive showing for a #13 seed. They also played a good California team tight on the road, falling by only five in their season opener last year. They are coming off a 50-39 victory over East Tennessee State on Monday night in which they held the Buccaneers to 33% from the floor and 10% from three. B.J. Jenkins led all scorers with 14 points and shot 3-4 from deep. The Rebels are 1-0 though they struggled a bit with Arkansas State in their season opener. Star senior Chris Warren is back and hopes to lead Ole Miss to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002. Gone from last year’s team, however, are Terrico White, Eniel Polynice and Murphy Holloway. Those three combined to average 34/16/6 for Andy Kennedy last season so players like Zach Graham and Terrance Henry are going to have to step into primary roles for the Rebels this year. Warren had to will his team to victory the other night by scoring 20 of his 26 points after halftime as Ole Miss was down eight at the break. Mississippi is not a particularly good defensive team while Murray State is just that. On offense it’s quite the opposite as Murray struggles to score and the Rebels rank #29 in offensive efficiency. Something has to give tonight and usually (but not always) defense wins out. Ole Miss is going to have to control the boards and minimize turnovers in order to win. The Racers were outrebounded by ETSU and generally are not that good on the glass. The Rebels need to exploit that advantage in order to create more possessions and therefore more opportunities to score. Conversely, Murray excels at creating turnovers which will get them some extra possessions that they may lose in the rebounding battle. The Racers were #16 in turnover percentage last year and currently lead the nation in that category so far this season. This game figures to be very close as the teams are opposites of each other and will try to go after each other’s weaknesses. Mississippi prefers to play with a fairly quick pace while Murray is content with a slow, grinding game. Whichever team imposes their style for the majority of the game stands a good chance of winning. We just might pick Murray State to come up with a nice road victory (and RPI booster) this evening.

Utah State @ BYU – 9 pm on The Mtn. (Mountain West Sports Network) (***)

This Game, Won by USU Last Year, is Always a War

If you look at the statistics on Ken Pomeroy’s site from last season, these two teams were remarkably similar. They were two of the top three 3-point shooting teams in the entire country last year and both were in the top 12 in effective field goal percentage as well. BYU also led the nation in free throw shooting while Utah State wasn’t far behind, ranking #12. Dave Rose leads his BYU team into another season of high expectations behind do-it-all player Jimmer Fredette. Fredette averaged 22 PPG last season leading the Cougars to a thrilling first round win over Florida in the NCAA Tournament. Key players Jackson Emery and Noah Hartsock also return for the men from Provo, Utah. The Aggies return two of their best players as well in Tai Wesley and Pooh Williams. Each team is 1-0 on the young season but Utah State struggled against another in-state rival over the weekend, Weber State. It is always difficult to win at the Marriott Center as the crowd is about as raucous as it gets in college basketball. They’ll most certainly be up and ready for this battle for the state of Utah. These two teams have played 226 times with BYU holding a 135-91 edge. However, Utah State won the last meeting on its home floor in Logan. Trying to contain Fredette will be paramount for the Aggies and coach Stew Morrill but hardly any team has been able to do that recently. Utah State did hold him to 5-15 shooting last year but he still managed to score 19 points. Expect a lot of threes to go up and to be made in this game tonight, though each team struggled mightily from the arc in their first game. When a lot of threes are attempted, long rebounds often result. BYU is not a good offensive rebounding team because of that so if Utah State can control the defensive boards they will have many more opportunities to score. The keys for the Aggies in last year’s win were getting to the line (+10 points there) and rebounding (+6). Everything else was fairly even and USU won by ten points, the margin from the foul line. BYU is favored at home, though only by six and a half points. We expect this to be a close game for 30 minutes with the Cougars gradually pulling away from the Aggies down the stretch. That isn’t to say Utah State can’t win (they certainly can), but winning on the road at BYU is something that rarely happens.

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Checking in on… the SEC

Posted by jstevrtc on January 26th, 2010

Paul Jordan of Wildcat Blue Blog is the RTC correspondent for the Southeastern Conference.
EAST
  1. Kentucky                   19-0  (4-0)
  2. Vanderbilt                 15-3  (4-0)
  3. Tennessee                 15-3  (3-1)
  4. Florida                     14-5  (3-2)
  5. South Carolina           11-8  (2-3)
  6. Georgia                        9-8  (1-3)
WEST
  1. Mississippi State        15-4  (3-1)
  2. Mississippi                 15-4  (3-2)
  3. Alabama                   12-7   (2-3)
  4. Arkansas                    8-11  (1-3)
  5. Auburn                      10-10  (1-4)
  6. LSU                           9-10  (0-5)
Good Rankings Week in the SEC.  Kentucky finally ascended to the top of both the AP Top 25 and ESPN/USA Top 25 . The last SEC team ranked No. 1 in AP poll was Tennessee on Feb. 26, 2008. This is Kentucky’s first No. 1 AP ranking since March 18, 2003.  Kentucky also stands alone as the only undefeated team in college basketball with a 19-0 record. Kentucky was an unanimous choice to both sets of voters.  Tennessee fell from the top 10 in both polls as they landed at #14 in both.  The Ole Miss Rebels came in at #18 in the AP poll and #20 in the ESPN/USA Today.  Vanderbilt is now the fourth SEC team in both polls, coming in at #21 in the AP poll and #23 with the ESPN/USA Today voters.  Mississippi State continues to swim in the “receiving votes” pool.
Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins was named SEC Freshman of the Week.  He played just 17 minutes but had 16 points and 14 rebounds in a win over Arkansas.   Georgia’s Travis Leslie was named SEC Player of the Week. He had 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists in win over No. 8 Tennessee.
THE WEEK AHEAD:
1/26 – #1 Kentucky (19-0) (4-0) @ South Carolina (11-8) (2-3) - 9 PM – ESPN
1/27 – #23 Vanderbilt (15-3) (4-0) @ #14 Tennessee (15-3) (3-1)  – 7PM – ESPNU.
1/27 – Georgia (9-8) (1-3) @ Florida (14-5) (3-2) – 7 PM – ESPN  360
1/28 – #20 Mississippi (15-4) (3-2) @ Auburn (10-10) (1-4) 9 PM – ESPNU
1/28 – Mississippi State (15-4) (3-1) @ Arkansas (8-11) (1-3) – 9 PM – ESPN2
1/30 – #23 Vanderbilt (15-3) (4-0) @ #1 Kentucky (19-0) (4-0) – 4 PM – ESPN
1/30 – Arkansas (8-11) (1-3) @ #20 Mississippi (15-4) (3-2) – 4 PM – ESPN 360
1/31 – Florida (14-5) (3-2) @ #14 Tennessee (15-3) (3-1)
TEAM REPORTS (RANKINGS ARE AP TOP 25/ESPN – ESPN/USA Today)
EAST
Kentucky (#1 – #1) — Kentucky turned in their most complete game of the season with a 101-70 romp over the Arkansas Razorbacks this past Saturday.  The Wildcats jumped out o a 10-0 start and never looked back as they made their case for the number one ranking in the country.  Darius Miller had a career high 18 points and John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins both chipped in 16.  Cousins added 14 rebounds.

Vanderbilt (#21, #23) –  Jeffrey Taylor scored all of his 18 points in the second half and Vanderbilt rallied for an 82-74 victory over Auburn.  John Jenkins‘ 3-pointer with 11:39 left gave Vanderbilt its first lead after the Commodores trailed by as many 16 in the first half. A.J. Ogilvy, Jermaine Beal and Brad Tinsley assisted the win with 17, 16, and 15 points, respectively.
Tennessee (#14, #14) — Wayne Chism scored all 11 of his points late in the game and Tennessee held off a determined Alabama Crimson Tide on Tuesday, 63-56.  Scotty Hopson scored 17 and Kenny Hall 12 off the bench to pace the Vols who are 5-0 since the January 1 incident that led to Tyler Smith being kicked off the team. Then, on Saturday, Tennessee fell behind early to the Georgia Bulldogs and trailed at the half by 15 points.  The Vols could never get back into the game on the road and fell, 78-63.  Hopson led the Vols in scoring with 19 while Bobby Maze and Kenny Hall both conributed double digits in a game in which Georgia outplayed them in every aspect.
Florida –  Erving Walker scored 27 points, and Florida went on a 9-0 run late in the second half to pull away for a 71-66 win over Arkansas. Kenny Boynton added 13 points in the UF win, but the Gators bench only managed six points in the game.  Chandler Parsons hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, his second game-winning shot in three weeks, and Florida beat South Carolina 58-56 on Saturday night.  Parsons finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. He missed his first three 3s, but hit the only one that mattered.  Boynton led the Gators with 14 points.
South Carolina –  Devan Downey scored 25 points but got very little help from his teammates as South Carolina fell to Mississippi on Wednesday, 66-57.  The Gamecocks did find a bit of hope as freshman Ramon Galloway had 11 points and is starting to emerge as a new scoring option.  The Devan Downey show continued in Gainesville on Saturday as Downey scored 36 of his team’s 56 points against the Gators.  That was almost enough for the win but a last second Gator 3-pointer finished the Gamecocks, 58-56.  Sam Muldrow was the next leading scorer with six points.
Georgia — The Bulldogs ended a ten game losing streak to the Tennessee Vols with a 78-63 upset on Saaturday.  Georgia hit 56% for the game, including 7 -12 3-pointers in the win.  The duo of Trey Thompkins (21 pts) and Travis Leslie (19 points) keyed the win.
WEST
Mississippi State — After a week off, the Bulldogs struggled through their worst shooting performance of the season on Saturday and hit just 2 -18 3-pointers resulting in a 62-57 loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide.  The Bulldogs also shot just 31.7% from the floor and 65.2% from the line.  Even Jarvis Varnado was not immune to the bad shooting as he went 4-14.  Barry Stewart was their leading scorer with 13 points.
Mississippi (#18, ##20) — The Rebels evened their SEC record on Saturday with a tough 66-57 win over South Carolina.  The Rebels had to fight off a furious Gamecock rally after leading by 15 at half, but evened their SEC record at 2-2.  Chris Warren had 17 points and Murphy Holloway had 14 points and 12 boards.  On Wednesday, the LSU Tigers held Warren scoreless for 30 minutes, but Warren got loose for the last ten with 14 points, and helped the Rebels pull away from LSU, 73-63.  Warren was one of three Rebels (Terrance Henry, Eniel Polynice) with 14 points.
Alabama — The Crimson Tide found themselves in a 1-3 SEC hole after losing a tough 63-56 game to the Tennessee Vols on Tuesday.  Alabama appeared to be a darkhorse candidate for the SEC West title but now need to put together a nice winning streak to get their season back on track.  JaMychal Green had 16 to lead Alabama.  The Crimson Tide stopped their slide with a 62-57 upset of Mississippi State four days later.  Mikhail Torrance had 20 points and Green added 18 as the Tide came away with a big home court win.
ArkansasRotnei Clarke had five 3-pointers and scored 17 points to lead the Razorbacks but it was not enough to stop a late 9-0 run by Florida and an eventual 71-66 loss on Thursday.  Marshawn Powell and Courtney Fortson both had 14 points but this was another in a season of frustrating losses for Arkansas.  Less than 48 hours later, Arkansas went up to Rupp Arena in Lexington to try and prevent Kentucky from ascending to the number one ranking and came back the victim of a 101-70 beatdown.  Fortson scored 21 points to lead the Razorbacks and Clark managed 13 points even though he was harassed into 2-9 shooting from beyond the arc for the game.
Auburn –  DeWayne Reed scored 21 points on Wednesday and Auburn hit six of eight free throws in the final minute, sealing an 84-80 win over LSU.  Auburn had balanced scoring with five players in double digits scoring and was 10-22 on 3-point shooting.  The Tigers let a 16 point first half lead get away from them and they suffered a tough 82-74 loss at the hands of the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday.  Lucas Hargrove had 19 points for the Tigers while Reed and Frankie Sullivan added 16 and 14.
LSU –  LSU got 38 points and 10 rebounds from Tasmin Mitchell on Wednesday but that was not enough to beat the Auburn Tigers.  Storm Warren added 17 points and 12 boards and Bo Spencer added 12.  The rest of the Tigers could only muster 13 points as LSU fell, 80-67.   Spencer, Mitchell, and Warren scored 49 of the Tigers’ 63 points and once again it was too little as the Tigers fell 73-63 to Ole Miss on Saturday for their fifth straight loss. Michell had a double-double with 16 and 11 and Spencer added 22 points.  The Tigers are still winless in the conference and will try for their first again this Wednesday against Alabama.
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Checking in on… the SEC

Posted by jstevrtc on January 13th, 2010

 
Paul Jordan of Wildcat Blue Blog is the RTC correspondent for the Southeastern Conference.

EAST:
  1. Kentucky              17-0     (2-0)
  2. Vanderbilt             12-3     (1-0)
  3. South Carolina      10-5     (1-0)
  4. Tennessee            12-2        (0-0)
  5. Florida                  11-5     (0-2)
  6. Georgia                 8-6      (0-1)
WEST:
  1. Mississippi State  13-3     (1-0)
  2. Alabama                  11-4     (1-0)
  3. Arkansas               7-8      (0-0)
  4. Mississippi           12-3     (0-1)
  5. LSU                           9-6     (0-1)
  6. Auburn                  9-7     (0-1)
News & Notes

A couple of off-court situations were resolved for two SEC teams.  Courtney Fortson made his first appearance for the Arkansas Razorbacks as his long suspension is now over.  As for the other situation, all-SEC guard Tyler Smith was dismissed from the Tennessee Volunteers for drug and weapon charges and the fates of three other Vols still hang in the balance.

Speaking of Tennessee, you probably heard — they pulled off the upset of the week when they knocked off #1 Kansas 76-68 on Sunday afternoon.  They were not the only SEC team to pull off a big out-of-conference upset last week as the Georgia Bulldogs knocked off #17 Georgia Tech, 73-66.

Thanks to the Volunteers, Kentucky now occupies the #2 spot in both the AP Top 25  and the ESPN/USA Today polls.  Tennessee, for their efforts, did creep back into the top 10 at #9 in the AP Top 25 and #10 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.  Ole Miss continues to represent as the third SEC team in the Top 25 — #21st in AP Top 25, and 23rd in the ESPN/USA Today.  Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Florida continue to swim in the “receiving votes” pool.

Tennessee’s Bobby Maze was named SEC Player of the Week after averaging 14.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 5.5 APG in wins over Charlotte and No. 1 Kansas.  Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins named SEC Freshman of the Week after he averaged 13.0 PPG and 4.0 RPG in wins over Middle Tennessee and Florida.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR THIS WEEK:
  • 1/12 – #2 Kentucky (16-0) @ Florida (11-4) – 9 PM – ESPN  (more on this in a moment)
  • 1/13 -  LSU (9-6) @ South Carolina (11-5) – 8 PM – ESPN 360
  • 1/13 -  Vanderbilt (12-3) @ Alabama (11-4) – 9 PM – ESPN 360
  • 1/14 – Auburn (9-7) @ #9 Tennessee (12-2) - 7 PM – ESPN2
  • 1/16 – #21 Mississippi (12-3) @ #9 Tennessee (12-2) – 1:30 PM – ESPN 360
  • 1/16 – Vanderbilt (12-3) @  South Carolina (10-5) – 6:30 PM – ESPN 360
  • 1/16 – LSU (9-6) @ Florida (11-4) – 8 PM
TEAM UPDATES (rankings are AP, ESPN/USA Today):
EAST
  • Kentucky (#2, #2) — DeMarcus Cousins scored seven of his 16 points in the final three minutes as the Wildcats stayed unbeaten with a gritty 76-68 win over Georgia on Saturday.  UK jumped out to a 21-10 lead and the Bulldogs responded with a 21-5 run and it was nip/tuck the rest of the way.  Patrick Patterson and John Wall also scored 17 points apiece for the Wildcats.  The came right back on Tuesday with a road game at the O-Dome in Gainesville and took out the Gators, 89-77.  Eric Bledsoe keyed the ‘Cats with an incredible 25/7/5 asst night on 10-13 shooting.  Wall added 19/4/6 assts and the always steady Patterson chipped in 15/7 as Kentucky had to hold off a Florida team that got hot from three midway through the second half.  We’ll have even more on this one in next week’s SEC summary.
  • VanderbiltA.J. Ogilvy responded to being back in the starting lineup and scored 24 points, and Vanderbilt opened the Southeastern Conference schedule beating Florida, 95-87, on Saturday for the Commodores’ sixth straight victory.  Jermaine Beal added 22 points and Jeffrey Taylor had a perfect shooting day (5-5 FG, 4-4 FT) to add 14 points for the Commodores.
  • South Carolina — The Gamecocks got exactly what the doctor ordered on Saturday with a 88-58 pounding of the Longwood Lancers as South Carolina readied for conference play.  Devan Downey scored 18 points but the Gamecocks also got 15 points from Evaldas Baniulus off the bench.  Ramon Galloway also hit double digits with 12 points.  Downey then poured in 33 points with four 3-pointers as the Gamecocks opened SEC play with a 80-71 win over the Auburn Tigers on Saturday.  South Carolina hit 11 3-pointers on the game and broke open a 52-all tie with an 8-0 run to break open the game.  Sam Muldrow added 12 points and 4 blocked shots.
  • Tennessee (#9, #10) — The Volunteers really did not know what to expect when they came into their game against Charlotte with four players suspended.  What the Vols found was new faces to step up as they breezed by the Charlotte 49ers, 88-71.  Wayne Chism scored 18 points and Scotty Hopson added 17 and the Vols, with just six scholarship players, shot 57.6% with all five starters scoring in double figures.  And of course Tennessee pulled off their second big win of the week with the 76-68 upset of #1 Kansas on Sunday.  Hopson had 17 and Bobby Maze added 16, but the lasting image of this game was walk-on Skylar McBee milking the shot clock late in the game and then delivering a duck-under three point dagger to the heart of the Kansas Jayhawks.
  • FloridaKenny Boynton scored 28 points (including six 3-pointers) and Erving Walker added 22 (with five treys) but it was not enough as the Gators fell 95-87 to the Vanderbilt Commodores despie tossing in 13 3-pointers for the game.  The Gators hadn’t lost an SEC opener since 2001 at South Carolina.  On Tuesday night the faced the formidable #2 Kentucky Wildcats and hoped to score a sixth straight home win over the Big Blue, but 20 points from Walker and 17/7 from Alex Tyus couldn’t propel the Gators past UK; the Rowdy Reptiles went home disappointed as Florida went down, 89-77.
  • GeorgiaTrey Thompkins scored 20 points, Ricky McPhee hit two key baskets near the end and Georgia pulled off its first big victory for new coach Mark Fox, knocking off  #17 Georgia Tech, 73-66, on Tuesday night. McPhee had four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points.  The Bulldogs showed their win over Georgia Tech was not a fluke as they battled Kentucky to the wire on Saturday before losing, 76-68.  The Bulldogs cut the lead to two with 1:00 remaining but UK pulled away the last minute.  Travis Leslie scored the first 10 points of the game for Georgia and finished with 20.  Thompkins finished with 17.
WEST
  • Mississippi StateDee Bost tied a career high with 25 points and fueled Mississippi State’s 80-75 upset of #16 Mississippi on Saturday with fearless drives to the basket.  This was also a huge road win for the Bulldogs who opened SEC play against their biggest competition in the West.  Ravern Johnson added 15 and Kodi Augustus had a double double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
  • Alabama — Alabama looks to be the big surprise of the SEC as they continued their strong early play with a 66-49 win over LSU in the SEC opener for both teams.  JaMychal Green scored 14 points to lead Alabama, while Senario Hillman and Mikhail Torrance added 13  and 12 points, respectively.  Alabama now has a four game winning streak.
  • Arkansas — Courtney Fortson made his debut after a season long suspension and had 19 points/7 assists, but it was not enough to help his Razorbacks pull an upset over #2 Texas.  Arkansas hung tough for about 38 of the 40 minutes but Texas pulled away at the end to win, 96-85.  Rotnei Clarke added 24 points for the Razorbacks.
  • Mississippi (#21, #23) — Terrico White had five 3-pointers and scored 21 points to lead Ole Miss to a 84-56 thumping of the UCF Golden Knights.  Ole Miss jumped out early and had a 46-24 halftime lead and the Knights never had a chance.  Eniel Polynice had 16 points and Murphy Holloway had a double double with 11 points and 10 boards to help key the rout.  On Saturday, the Rebels suffered a key early season home SEC loss against bitter rival Mississippi State, 80-75.  Chris Warren led the Rebels with 15 points despite a 5-17 shooting night and Zach Graham and Terrance Henry had 14 points and 12 points, respectively, off the bench.
  • LSU — The troubles continue for LSU as they managed just 18 points in the first half against Alabama and lost their SEC opener 66-49 to the Crimson Tide.  Bo Spencer scored 13 points, and Dennis Harris and Tasmin Mitchell added 12 and 11, respectively.  Storm Warren got in early foul trouble and had just four points and a mere one rebound.
  • AuburnDeWayne Reed scored 20 points to lead Auburn to a 96-72 victory against Division II West Georgia on Tuesday night. Frankie Sullivan scored 17 points and Tay Waller added 16 for the Tigers, who shot 52% from the field and outrebounded the Wolves, 40-29.  Auburn could only manage two 3-pointers compared to South Carolina’s 11, and that was the difference in the game as Auburn dropped a tough game on Saturday, 80-71.  Reserve Brendon Knox led Auburn with 22 points, Reed scored 19, Lucas Hargrove had 12 and Sullivan added 10 in the loss.
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