SEC Morning Five: 02.06.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on February 6th, 2012

  1. Vanderbilt again found itself unable to solve a pressing team, losing at Florida, 73-65, and committing 17 turnovers in the process. In the Commodores’ 16 wins, they have turned it over an average of 13.4 times (compared to 13.7 assists in those games). In the six losses, they have committed an average of 16.1 turnovers against just 12.0 assists per game. “We didn’t do a very good job of attacking (the press),” Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said in the Tennessean. “It was disruptive, and we did a poor job with our spacing. We did a poor job with our ball handling. It caused problems.” The Gators also continued a growing concern for the Commodores. They shot 11-of-24 from beyond the arc meaning that in four of Vandy’s last five games (taking away the win vs Tennessee), the other four teams have shot 46.3% from the three-point arc.
  2. Arnett Moultrie’s controversial transfer from UTEP to Mississippi State returned to the headlines this weekend when the Bulldogs faced and defeated Moultrie’s old coach, Tony Barbee, now at Auburn. In Saturday’s Birmingham News: “In an interview with a small group of reporters, Barbee declined to utter more than a few words when asked about Moultrie or his background, nor did he even use Moultrie’s name. On one point, however, he was adamant: Contrary to some published reports at the time, UTEP had in fact released Moultrie to come to Auburn.” In his first game against his old coach, Moultrie scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds in a 91-88 Bulldogs win.
  3. Kentucky fans have long earned the distinction as of possessing the most most basketball-crazed fans in the SEC, if not the country, but as John Clay wrote in the Lexington Herald-Leader after the Wildcats’ dismantling of South Carolina that Columbia was just the latest ‘Big Blue Occupy Movement.’ He quotes head coach John Calipari in the article: “Today when I walked out in that building, I was like ‘What in the world?'” he said. “It looked like half the building was blue. Our fans treat these guys like rock stars. I didn’t come out, but they told me they circled the court when they were warming up, taking pictures like they were Bon Jovi or somebody.”
  4. Former Ole Miss basketball player and the adoptive father of Michael Oher, Sean Tuohy, openly lobbied for the Rebel Athletic Director job in a Memphis Commercial Appeal story that ran over the weekend. The article states that Tuohy owns and operates 70 fast food locations with a “total annual budget of $60 million, [surpassing] the Ole Miss athletic department of $48 million. “I’m proud that I started successful companies and businesses,” Tuohy said. “But someday, I’m going to have to face my dad in heaven, and I think he’d be more interested in what I did as athletic director of Ole Miss more than any of my business stuff.”
  5. Georgia’s season of frustration spilled out of head coach Mark Fox late Saturday in the Bulldogs’ 73-62 loss at Tennessee. He drew a pair of technical fouls after a non-call within five seconds to garner an ejection with 19 seconds  left to play.  “I have no comment on that,” Fox said a few minutes later. “Not to be disrespectful to you, I know you’ve gotta ask that question.”
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SEC Morning Five: 02.02.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on February 2nd, 2012

  1. Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post spotlighted Florida forward Will Yeguete in advance of Thursday’s contest with South Carolina. Yeguete has moved into the starting lineup after Patric Young’s injured ankle forced him to come off the bench. Last year, Yeguete averaged 3.4 turnovers per 40 minutes played; this year, that ratio is down to 1.2 turnovers per 40 minutes. “It became very difficult to play him because when he touched the ball, there was a good chance he was going to turn it over,” said coach Billy Donovan.
  2. At, a Wednesday story wondered aloud if a 3-6 finish and a 15-15 season would put LSU head coach Trent Johnson on the hot seat. While asking the question, the article does take the time to point out that this year’s squad has shown marked improvement in the national rankings in scoring, scoring defense, rebounding margin, turnover margin and free-throw percentage.
  3. In three of their last four games, Vanderbilt has been hurt by its opponent’s three-point shooting. Arkansas and Mississippi State combined to shoot 19-of-43 (44.2%) in defeating the Commodores while Middle Tennessee almost pulled off the upset on Saturday thanks in part to connecting on 7-of-13 from beyond the arc. None of those teams rank in the top 100 in three-point percentage. However, the next team on the Commodores’ schedule, Florida, leads the nation in three-pointers made per game.
  4. For the second consecutive weekend, Florida will be part of the controversial Thursday-Saturday scheduling as the Gators host South Carolina today followed by welcoming in Vanderbilt on Saturday. In the last three years, Florida has gone 11-1 in Thursday-Saturday matchups and as Erving Walker said last week,  “The coaches just prepare us well. We’re young kids. We shouldn’t be worn down with a day of rest. We had a day of rest and we were ready to go. We like to play.”
  5. In an Opelika Auburn News story, Auburn head coach Tony Barbee anticipated Noel Johnson, the transfer from Clemson, having an immediate impact on Auburn. Instead, over his first nine games as a  new Tiger, Johnson has not met expectations, averaging just 1.2 points in 11.4 minutes per game. Worse, he has shot only 15.6% from the floor. Johnson remained invisible in Auburn’s win against Georgia as he missed his only shot in six minutes of action.
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SEC Morning Five: 01.11.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 11th, 2012

  1. Mississippi State’s Arnett Moultrie has experienced a decline in points over the last three games. The power forward averaging 16.2 points per game has also grabbed 2.1 fewer offensive rebounds per game during this stretch. Coaches are keyed in on Moultrie’s ability to get second-chance opportunities in close range for the Bulldogs, and they’re scheming to keep him off the rim. The Bulldogs’ next opponent, Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin, discussed his strategy saying, “The way he rebounds the basketball, the way he scores on the block, you want to try to get him off the block. You want to try to keep him off the glass.” That strategy is certainly easier said than done, but it again reiterates the importance of forward Renardo Sidney’s play down low. Sidney needs to continue to stay in the ballgame by improving his conditioning and avoiding foul trouble so that he can help take pressure off Moultrie in the post. Moultrie only attempted six shots in the Bulldogs’ weekend loss to Arkansas.
  2. His star player hasn’t been as effective, but Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury isn’t panicking just yet. The players, however, believe that SEC teams have their gameplan for attacking the Bulldogs. “Pressure us and run us,” freshman Rodney Hood said. Moultrie added, “I think pretty much every team is going to come in and try to press us.” The strategy certainly worked for Arkansas. The Razorbacks forced 18 turnovers. But the Bulldogs’ head coach is more concerned with the 98 points the defense allowed, the most points a Stansbury coached team has ever given up. “They hit us in the mouth early and I don’t know if we ever recovered from it,” Stansbury said. The 56.5% field goal percentage is the only time a team has shot above 50% on the Bulldogs’ defense all season.
  3. Tony Barbee is finally under contract with the Auburn Tigers, signing a seven-year deal with the team he’s already been coaching for 22 months. Barbee and Auburn had been operating on a letter of understanding since March 24, 2010. “I’m glad it’s signed,” Barbee said. “The contract was a bigger deal for everybody else but Auburn and me. I was very comfortable with the letter of agreement we were working under… Auburn had committed to me. I had committed to them.” Barbee is 10-5 in his second year as head coach of the Tigers, and faces John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats on Wednesday night.
  4. Forward Murphy Holloway may be ready to to go for the Ole Miss Rebels after being sidelined with an injury sustained on December 21. “[He’s] probable for tomorrow,” Rebels’ coach Andy Kennedy said. “The pain he feels is from that bone bruise. That tendon, the ligament is all pretty stable. For him, he’s still having some pain — which you can see in his gait. Some of it may be anticipatory, some of it may be in his mind.” (Ok, who had to google the word “gait?” Kennedy always keeps us on our toes.) Holloway’s return should provide a boost on offense for a team without leading scorer Dundrecous Nelson. Ole Miss has lost four of its last five games heading into a home matchup with the red-hot Razorbacks.
  5. Florida coach Billy Donovan wasn’t at all happy with the Gators’ defensive effort against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday. “We didn’t play hard at all, on both ends of the floor,” freshman Bradley Beal said. “Our defense, we didn’t play great help defense, we didn’t guard the ball well. Our transition defense wasn’t good. We had too many breakdowns during the game. I mean, it really cost us.” The Gators allowed the Vols to shoot 51%, the highest percentage Florida has allowed all year. Florida isn’t a strong enough defensive squad to have off shooting nights, and Donovan’s three-point bombers weren’t hitting with their normal efficiency. The Gators shot 31.8% from beyond the arc, spelling a recipe for disaster on the road. Donovan needs to shore up Florida’s defensive effort to  protect his team against another bad shooting night, whether on the road or on a neutral site court deep during a tournament run in March.
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Morning Five: 01.11.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 11th, 2012

  1. Most of the nation seems to believe that this year’s championship will probably come down to Syracuse, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Ohio State, but one team you would be wise to keep an eye on is Michigan State. As we noted around New Year’s their only two losses were their opening two games in extraordinary circumstances (playing UNC on a naval carrier and Duke on #903K). If you don’t believe us, perhaps you would listen to Tom Izzo who says he is so excited about this team that he is having trouble sleeping at night. If you are looking for potential NBA lottery picks you should probably look elsewhere, but after a down year this is looking a lot like your typical Spartan team that is always dangerous in March.
  2. Tennessee got its first look at new recruit Jarnell Stokes in action on campus yesterday. Stokes, a top 20 recruit in the class of 2012, elected to enter college early and was cleared by the NCAA to play for the Volunteers. So far Tennessee has not given any indication of when or even if they will use Stokes this season. Given the current status of this Volunteer team we could not come up with a single reason for Stokes to play this year. He is not the type of player that we would expect to be one-and-done especially with about half of the season remaining. He could certainly make Tennessee a better team this year, but to what end? A NIT trip? It doesn’t seem to be worth it for a year of Stokes’ eligibility.
  3. We are always surprised when coaches accept a job without signing or reviewing a contract, but it continues to happen. The latest example is Auburn coach Tony Barbee who worked for two years without having a formal contract before he signed an extension last month. Barbee’s extension, which runs through 2017, will pay him $1.5 million per year and includes various bonuses and buyout clauses. The most interesting part of Barbee’s new contract is the clause on NCAA compliance that he shares with football coach Gene Chizik that essentially allows the school to stop paying a coach if they were involved in any NCAA violations.
  4. In November in the wake of their recruiting scandal that got buried underneath the circus in Happy Valley, UCF cleaned house and fired their athletic director Keith Tribble. Yesterday, they announced his replacement would be Todd Stansbury, who had previously worked as an executive associate athletic director at Oregon State. We have heard plenty of talk about coaches or administrators inheriting difficult situations, but the one that Stansbury could make nearly any of those situations seem simple. While the situation lacks the watchful eye of a nation that Penn State will have, we expect that UCF will have significant NCAA sanctions headed its way based on the 16-page notice of allegations it received in November from the NCAA.
  5. If you are going through withdrawal from college football and are missing the ridiculousness of the BCS, we have something for you: the latest RTC BCS Top 25. In addition to the theoretical BCS bowl match-ups, politics, and snubs it also provides an interesting look at how the different computer polls rank the teams. In the end what it is really about is being thankful that we use a court instead of some convoluted formula to decide who gets to play for our championship.
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SEC Morning Five: 1.04.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 4th, 2012




  1.  Kentucky fans may compare Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to Superman, but he’s not completely immune to injury. Kentucky coach John Calipari says that Kidd-Gilchrist went to the locker room with a chest injury that he sustained during the Louisville game. “I don’t know if it is a pulled muscle or what in his chest area,” Calipari said in his postgame press conference. “It was last game that it happened but we are going to get him checked up and he didn’t feel right at halftime. I told them to give him some medicine to see if they could loosen it up. We will check on him tomorrow, but I think he will be fine.” Kidd-Gilchrist was injured in the Louisville game, but still suited up to play against Arkansas-Little Rock last night. The Superman comparison may not be too off base.
  2. Made free throws were a huge factor in Kentucky’s 69-62 win over Louisville. The Wildcats are not normally known for their accuracy at the charity stripe, but Calipari has made the team run sprints for every missed free throw the Cats shoot in a game. It obviously worked as Kentucky was a solid 32-42 from the line against the Cardinals. Over the last four games, the fear of running has propelled the Cats to shoot 77.2% from the stripe. An Achilles heel for almost every Calipari-coached team has turned into a positive for UK as of late. With Calipari’s critics no longer able to make fun of Kentucky’s free throw shooting, they are frantically writing new jokes as you read this.
  3. LSU lost on Monday night to a Top 25 Virginia team, but the Tigers received good news with the return of senior guard Andre Stringer. Stringer had sat out the previous five games with a head injury sustained in practice three weeks ago. He started the game, but was somewhat limited with 24 minutes of play and just eight points. “It was great to get back,” Stringer said. “I felt great afterward, but obviously it doesn’t feel too good right now.” Stringer admitted to feeling winded, and will work on improving his conditioning before SEC play. Stringer was LSU’s leading scorer before his departure. He is averaging 11.7 points, 2.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
  4. Somewhat quietly, Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli recently broke the school record for career blocks. Ezeli broke former Commodore Will Perdue’s former mark with the 158th block of his career against Miami (Ohio). Last season, Ezeli averaged 2.6 blocks per game, setting the single season record for the Commodores with 87. His defense will have a major impact on Vanderbilt’s ability to rebound, guard the post, and alter shots in the lane. Ezeli could give the ‘Dores some much needed consistency on both ends of the court as he is slowly working his way back into the lineup.
  5. Kenny Gabriel’s career night was mentioned in yesterday’s M5, but his 24 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocked shots deserves some more love here today. Gabriel accomplished a feat that nobody at Auburn before him has been able to do. “It’s pretty special, a triple-double,” coach Tony Barbee said. “When you consider the type of talent that has come out of this program, the Chuck Persons, the Charles Barkleys, the Wesley Persons, the Mike Mitchells, you can go down the line and this is the first triple-double in Auburn history? It’s special.” And to think, Gabriel almost didn’t play because of stomach issues. His 24 points and 13 rebounds both tied his career highs, and his 10 blocks was a career high by itself. Gabriel is averaging 12.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game on the season.
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SEC Morning Five: 01.03.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on January 3rd, 2012

  1. Kenny Gabriel had 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 blocks for the first triple-double in Auburn history. Gabriel added three assists and four steals in the Tigers’ 67-41 win over Bethune Cookman. Gabriel’s 24 points were a career-high that he achieved on an 11-13 shooting night. The triple-double occurred with seven minutes remaining in the game. Auburn has improved tremendously from last season, but finishes up non-conference play with a big test against Florida State on Wednesday. The match-up with the Seminoles should be a good indicator of how far Tony Barbee’s team has come.
  2. A new SEC Player of the Week was crowned this week, and the honors go to Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Kidd-Gilchrist has elevated his play to a whole new level this week. First, he scored a career-high 18 points against Lamar. Then, he topped that by adding 24 points and 19 rebounds against rival Louisville. His 19 records was a new record in the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry series. On the week, Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 21 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Anthony Davis was named SEC Freshman of the Week giving Kentucky a sweep of the awards this week. Davis averaged 14 points, 11.5 rebounds, six blocks, 1.5 steals, and 1 assist. Davis had 18 points and 6 rebounds in the second half of the Louisville game.
  3. Alabama guard Andrew Steele has been medically cleared to rejoin the team and will begin playing as soon as tonight against Georgia Tech. The junior suffered four concussions in his football and basketball career, but feels as though the lingering symptoms have disappeared. “I’m excited to finally get back on the court,” Steele said. “At one point, I thought I might not get the chance again, so to get back out there with my teammates and do something I love to do is one of the best feelings ever.” Steele averaged 4.0 points and 2.6 rebounds per game last season in limited action. The big question for Crimson Tide fans has to be can Steele hit a three-pointer for Alabama’s struggling perimeter game? Steele was 5-19 (26.3%) last year from beyond the arc.
  4. Ole Miss forward Murphy Holloway will not play against Southern Methodist on Tuesday as  he is still recovering from a high ankle sprain suffered on December 21. “He’s progressing about as well as we would have hoped,” coach Andy Kennedy said. “It’s been 11 days and our hope is that he continues to improve and we’ll have him when we start SEC play.” Holloway is averaging 9.9 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. His 9.6 rebounds is good enough for third in the SEC. The Rebels have lost three games in a row and look to break the streak without their leading rebounder in the lineup again.
  5. Kentucky plays its annual game in Louisville on Tuesday night, and no we’re not talking about a game against the Cardinals. Kentucky plays Arkansas-Little Rock in Freedom Hall, but coach John Calipari is not sure how long the Wildcats will continue to play a game outside the friendly confines of Rupp Arena. “People have got to come to it and make it something they want us to do,” Calipari said. “I know this, Little Rock at home, there would be 24,000 people there.” Kentucky had a near sellout in Freedom Hall in 2004-05 against Indiana, but other games have left plenty of seats. You may remember that Kentucky has expressed its desire to shift the annual home-and-home series with Indiana to neutral sites alternating between Indianapolis and Louisville beginning next season.
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SEC Morning Five: 12.30.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 30th, 2011

  1. The plan going into Vanderbilt’s win over Marquette on Thursday night was to ease Festus Ezeli into action. Ezeli played limited minutes (17), but looked good scoring eight points and grabbing seven rebounds. Despite his positive play, head coach Kevin Stallings says that Ezeli isn’t yet at 100%. “[Festus] has looked better the last few days,” Stallings said. “I would probably say he’s at about 75% and may be starting to inch above that. We’ll just keep trying to give Festus some time and see how it goes.” The play of both Ezeli and the entire Commodores team last night has again brought up the question of who this Vandy team really is. Vanderbilt hasn’t looked the part of a Top 25 team for most of the year, but lived up to its preseason hype in the win over the Golden Eagles. The Commodores’ inconsistent play and the return of Ezeli to full health remains the most intriguing storyline going into conference play in the SEC.
  2. Louisville plans to put Kentucky’s freshman point guard Marquis Teague to the test on Saturday. Although Teague had begun to play better of late, he reverted to his old ways in committing six turnovers in UK’s win over Lamar on Wednesday. Before he started talking about turkeys during the Marquette and Vanderbilt game, ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes said, “Louisville will extend pressure and try to wear down Marquis Teague. They’ll try to get into Teague.” Teague, of course, thinks he knows how to handle the pressure. “The easiest thing with the press is if you pass through it, you don’t have to waste energy,” he said. “It’s when you try to dribble through it that you get tired.” Which version of Teague will show up? We will find out on Saturday if the young point guard is up to the test against what is likely the best defensive pressure the Cats will face all season long.
  3. The guys at A Sea of Blue make the case that the Kentucky and Louisville rivalry is the best in the nation. While conventional wisdom says North Carolina and Duke create the premier matchup of the college basketball season, they also meet two to three times per season. In a typical year, the Tar Heels and Blue Devils split the season series, and go forward without real bragging rights over the other fan base. But with Kentucky and Louisville, “you have 365 days, more or less, to suffer at the hands of your rivals. If this all sounds extreme, it is, and insanely exciting. And that’s why this rivalry is the best. There are no half-measures, no splits, no draws — only victory, and defeat.” And as ASoB points out, “being the loser is P-A-I-N-F-U-L, especially when you live behind enemy lines.” A lot is on the line on Saturday, and we will all benefit by witnessing a great game filled with the emotion and passion of a true rivalry.
  4. Auburn coach Tony Barbee has been pleased with the Tigers’ defensive effort , but acknowledges a lot of work needs to be done on the offensive end. “Offensively, we were anemic tonight,” Barbee said. “Hopefully, we can chalk it up to being an off night. More of a concern was we didn’t have guys make plays when they had an opportunity to make plays.” Unfortunately for Auburn, the offensive struggles are more of a season long trend than simply an off night. The Tigers are currently shooting 44.8% from the field, and just 33.8% from beyond the arc on the season. Barbee’s squad ranks #233 in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency, which is the worst in the SEC. I hate to be the bearer of bad news for Auburn fans, but the Tigers’ defense isn’t that good either, ranking 11th out of 12 teams in the SEC in adjusted defensive efficiency. Not a good sign heading into SEC play.
  5. Jarnell Stokes has reached celebrity status in Knoxville, and he hasn’t even played his first game yet. After spending the day signing autographs and talking with Volunteer fans, Stokes said, “I’m no savior, I’m a basketball player. But I’ve always been a winner, and I plan on being a piece of what Coach [Cuonzo] Martin is putting together here. The fans here, man, they’re great. Today was awesome.” The Vols could use a little extra boost to push them over the edge. All six of Tennessee’s losses this season have been by 10 points or less. Four of the losses were decided by less than five points. One little addition (or one major addition in the case of Stokes) could be the difference between a win or another close loss for Tennessee.
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Big East/SEC Challenge Face-Off: Other Friday Games

Posted by Brian Joyce on December 2nd, 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 Auburn vs. Seton Hall and Louisville vs. Vanderbilt. 

Vanderbilt v. Louisville

Vanderbilt and Louisville will feature two top 25 teams facing off in the KFC Yum! Center.

Mike: The matchup has all the makings of a classic offense v. defense battle. Even without senior center Festus Ezeli, the Commodores are a prolific scoring team (#23 in adjusted offense) and swingmen John Jenkins (20.2 PPG) and Jeffery Taylor (15.4 PPG) can fill it up in a hurry. Of course they haven’t played a team as talented as Louisville. Even with the injuries to Wayne BlackshearMike MarraStephan Van Treese, and Rakeem Buckles, the Cardinals are still undefeated and the main reason why is they play suffocating defense (#3 in adjusted defense). However, with apologies to Butler, Louisville has played a relatively easy opening slate, and their depth will be tested against Vanderbilt’s talented lineup. Offensively the Cardinals don’t have a go-to scorer per se, but they do have seven players who average at least seven points per game, led by sweet-shooting forward Kyle Kuric (12.5 PPG). They also have a rugged, albeit thin, frontcourt which is led by talented freshman Chase Behanan (9.8 PPG, 8.7 RPG) and center Gorgui Dieng (8.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG) who has been one of the best shotblockers in the country thus far and is a big reason why Louisville is so successful on defense. But as balanced as Rick Pitino’s club is, star guard Peyton Siva is still what makes the team go, and he hasn’t quite found his comfort zone yet, missing two games with an ankle injury. Siva had 11 points, five assists and five steals in the team’s last game, a win over Long Beach State, but he also turned the ball over six times. No matter how good Louisville’s defense might be, Siva and fellow guard Chris Smith cannot be careless with the ball, because Vanderbilt is too efficient on offense to be gifted with so many extra possessions. What do you think, Brian?

Will Rick Pitino employ his full court press against Vanderbilt's struggling guards

Brian: I agree that this should be a great one. I think Vanderbilt will really be tested in this matchup. The Commodores haven’t taken good care of the basketball, and Louisville is a team that uses a full court press and creates lots of turnovers. Brad Tinsley has struggled when pressured, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to the Cardinals’ defense. You pointed out Vandy’s efficient offense, but you were nice by not mentioning its struggling defense. The ‘Dores have struggled to cut off opponent’s three-point shot allowing three teams to shoot at least 40 percent from outside the arc so far this year. Louisville loves to shoot the three, so it could be a long night for coach Kevin Stallings if his team lets the Cardinals get hot. It will be interesting to see how Stallings handles the defensive assignment for Siva. Siva is a player who could really hurt Vanderbilt with his penetration. He can score, as you point out, and he can also find open teammates. And one of the teammates he may find in this one is Dieng. Dieng is still developing his offensive skills, but his 6’11” frame could be difficult for Vanderbilt’s post players to defend. 6’9″ Steve Tchiengang and 6’8″ Lance Goulbourne will be down low for Vandy, but they will have to box out better than they did against Xavier when the Musketeers grabbed 25 offensive rebounds.

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SEC Morning Five: 11.28.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 28th, 2011





  1. The injuries keep coming for the SEC and college basketball. Florida‘s starting forward Erik Murphy has a torn meniscus in his right knee and will be out indefinitely according to The Gainesville Sun. Murphy injured his knee in practice on Thursday. “It does appear he has some form of a meniscus tear,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “How severe or how long he will be out, we’d probably find out a lot more on Monday. He’s out for the game (against Stetson) Monday and I’d assume he would be out for the next week as well.” Florida has a big game this week against Syracuse in the Big East/SEC challenge on Friday. The Gators played Ohio State earlier this season in an another top 10 match-up, and Murphy was crucial to Florida’s offense. He scored 14 points and grabbed three rebounds in 24 minutes of play against the Buckeyes. Donovan seems optimistic that Murphy will return soon.
  2. Another SEC team that has been hit hard with injuries is looking to its freshmen to lead the way. BJ Young, Rashad Madden, Hunter Mickelson, and Devonta Abron combined to score 53 points for Arkansas in their win over Grambling State. All four posted career-highs in points, and Mickelson grabbed a career-high eight rebounds as well. “When those guys came off the bench, I thought they took the tempo up a notch for us and really got us into our transition game,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “They got the most minutes of any of the guys out there, so to me, that’s a reflection of their play. I thought they were at times pretty impressive.” The development of the Hogs’ four freshmen is key as Arkansas is left with only nine scholarship players this season. All four will get plenty of opportunities moving forward as the Razorbacks’ leading scorer and rebounder, Marshawn Powell, is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ligaments in his knee.
  3. Kentucky recorded only four turnovers in an 87-63 win over Portland on Saturday night. The four turnovers are the lowest for the Wildcats since a 1993 NCAA Tournament game against Utah (two turnovers). Much has been made of freshman Marquis Teague‘s ability to lead Kentucky at the point guard position, but he led the way with eight assists and zero turnovers. Teague added 14 points and four steals, and looked increasingly more comfortable in his role. That is a good sign for the Wildcats as they prepare for a big week with a matchup against St. John’s on Thursday and the much anticipated game against North Carolina on Saturday.
  4. Kentucky coach John Calipari sent out shock waves in Big Blue Nation on Sunday as he asked a (hypothetical?) question to Cats’ fans. Calipari asked via his website which non-conference team the Kentucky faithful would like to see dropped from the schedule if necessary. The SEC could add two additional conference games to each team’s schedule with the addition of two league members beginning next season. Calipari writes, “If we had to – and this doesn’t mean we have to at this point because we still have 16 league games – but if we had to drop one series and there were no other options, who would it be? Would it be North Carolina, Indiana or Louisville?” For what it’s worth, college basketball is better with these high powered non-conference games, but it’s understandable if that is not in the best interests of Kentucky basketball. Regardless, Kentucky and Louisville is one of the best rivalries in the game, and it has to keep going if for nothing more than the drama of Calipari vs. Rick Pitino.
  5. Auburn set a school record with 17 blocked shots in their win on Friday night against Nicholls State.  Rob Chubb and Willy Kouassi led the way with five blocks each. Kenny Gabriel blocked four more. The 17 blocks put Tigers tied for second with Kentucky (17 blocks against Morehead State in 1998) for the all-time single-game SEC list. Auburn head coach Tony Barbee was impressed, but wants to keep seeing improvement. “We still, as a program, have to grow and develop that confidence,” Barbee said. “The only way you do that is by winning. These guys are hungry, but I want them to be better and they know that. We can be better.” The Tigers improved to 3-0 with this win, and face a rebuilding Seton Hall team on Friday. The Tigers have been a solid club defensively, but offensively are still a work in progress. According to, Auburn ranks 170th in adjusted offensive efficiency. Barbee will have to find some scoring to continue to see his team accumulate victories.
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SEC Morning Five: 11.17.11 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 17th, 2011

  1. Georgia won its first two games of the season against Wofford and Bowling Green, but there are some concerns for the Dawgs moving forward. The University of Georgia student newspaper points out that the Bulldogs have been outrebounded in three of the four halves they have played thus far this season. “It was definitely frustrating, especially coming from a team last year we were really good in that area,” said senior guard Dustin Ware. “It’s something we’re definitely going to address and we’re just going to keep getting better at.” Rebounding was an area that Georgia expected to experience problems in after the Bulldogs lost big men Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins. However, being outrebounded 43-28 by Bowling Green is a major sign of trouble ahead for when Mark Fox’s team plays bigger and stronger teams in the front court.
  2. I feel like I’ve heard this story before: An SEC big man goes through a physical transformation in the offseason and plans to contribute more to his team this season. Unlike Renardo Sidney’s supposed improvements, this time, it sounds like reports of better conditioning and a new look seem to be true. Ole Miss sophomore Demarco Cox has worked his way into the starting lineup for the Rebels after dropping 40 pounds over the summer. He’s running every day and changed his diet and the hard work seems to be paying off. Cox started on Monday night against Grambling State, and the big man grabbed ten rebounds in 35 minutes of play. The Rebels will need Cox’s continued improvement in order to provide additional depth to a front line that is already one of the best in the SEC.
  3. Speaking of Renardo Sidney, Andy Katz points out how detrimental he can be to Mississippi State’s on-court chemistry. Sidney is expected to play Thursday night against Texas A&M after missing the last game with a groin injury. Coach Rick Stansbury is hoping to get to a point where he can play Sidney alongside transfer Arnett Moultrie. “There’s no question they can play together,” Stansbury said. “Arnett can play inside and out. There is plenty of room on and off the court. Arnett is a terrific rebounder. And the two of them would be tough to handle in there. But our challenge is not about minutes together but to have [Sidney] have productive minutes. We hope it gets better.” The Bulldogs need to right the ship after an early season loss to Akron, and any corrective measures begin with Sidney. Sidney and Moultrie could be one of the SEC’s most dominant frontcourts, but Sidney just can’t seem to get to a point where he helps MSU more than he hurts them.
  4. SEC basketball is accustomed to playing second fiddle to football season, especially in pigskin-crazed Florida. But it seems that in the midst of a mediocre college football season, Gator fans are beginning to turn to basketball much earlier than usual for a reprieve. The University of Florida student newspaper, The Alligator, writes that Billy Ball (referring to Billy Donovan’s typically fast and exciting style of play) is the perfect cure for those needing to turn their eyes from the football field. Donovan’s team this year likes to run with the potential to win frequently. And the author even thinks a Final Four year could be in store. Based on their play against Ohio State Tuesday night, Florida needs to figure out a way to involve their low post players more and begin playing unselfishly if the Gators are going to satisfy their fans. Florida has a difficult schedule coming up with games against Syracuse, Arizona and Texas A&M. While those will be exciting, the ultimate excitement comes with winning big games and not simply playing in them.
  5. Auburn fans are satisfied with the progress on the court for second year coach Tony Barbee. The Auburn Plainsman writes that improvements are already evident. The author points out that “the team played with as much heart as any in the country, and that shows effective coaching.” The Tigers are 2-0 to start the new season, and the effectiveness of the Tigers appears to lie with the progress of junior center Rob Chubb. Chubb is averaging 17 points and seven rebounds per game in 24 minutes of action. Auburn will continue to rely on a solid post game from Chubb and the contributions of 6’1″ guard Frankie Sullivan, who sat out last year with an injury. After struggling a bit against McNeese State, Sullivan came back to score 22 points and grab five rebounds against Kennesaw State.
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