SEC Weekday Primer: Chris Walker Is Free EditionPosted by Greg Mitchell on February 4th, 2014
Thank goodness for Tuesday. The weekday portion of the SEC schedule features a bunch of games that don’t move the needle all that much. But Super Tuesday this week brings Chris Walker’s long-awaited release from NCAA limbo and Kentucky’s follow-up to its impressive weekend win over Missouri. There’s also Marshall Henderson on national TV. Yes, thank goodness for Tuesday.
Don’t Miss This One, Part I
Ole Miss @ Kentucky (Tuesday, 7:00 PM ET). If you’re scratching your head, I get it. Kentucky is fresh off arguably its most complete team effort of the season against Missouri. The Wildcats played hard, played together and got big games from each of their three talented freshmen guards. Ole Miss, on the other hand, got rolled in Knoxville and needed a late rally to beat South Carolina at home. The Vols’ frontcourt overwhelmed the Rebels in the win, and Kentucky isn’t lacking for talented big men. But let me make a case for Ole Miss or, if nothing, at least an intriguing game. The Wildcats enter this game under much different conditions than in their game against Missouri. They are at home; they’re not coming off an embarrassing loss; and they have been patted on the back since Saturday. That could lead to a dip in their overall energy, especially from a young team. The Wildcats almost allowed Missouri to beat them with nothing more than two guards doing most of the scoring. The Rebels have two talented guards themselves in Jarvis Summers and Henderson, and Summers could feast on opportunities if Kentucky’s transition defense is as bad as it was in Columbia. Maybe Kentucky turned a developmental corner in Columbia over the weekend, and if so the Rebels are in trouble. But the chance at an upset is possible here if the Wildcats don’t come to play.
Theme Of The Week
Avoiding the Letdown. Tennessee and LSU have some momentum building that could lead to NCAA Tournament bids if both teams continue to progress in a positive way. Each squad is coming off a 2-0 week with comfortable wins, but momentum has generally been short-lived in the SEC this season. Tennessee (at Vanderbilt Wednesday) and LSU (at Georgia Thursday) are both on the road against teams that have been better than expected in conference play (although Georgia is on a three-game losing streak punctuated by a defeat to Auburn). These are the types of games that NCAA Tournament-worthy teams are able to get through unscathed.
Player To Keep An Eye On
Chris Walker. Forget one eye — keep both eyes on Walker tonight as he makes his debut against Missouri. Yes, he’s finally free. Walker’s eligibility saga was another NCAA head-scratcher, so it’ll be refreshing to finally see him don a Gators’ jersey in a real game against real competition. The freshman appears to be a Derrick Williams type of athletic power forward, but what will be most interesting to learn is whether he can also pass himself off as a small forward. Casey Prather’s ankle continues to be an issue, and Walker could give head coach Billy Donovan another option in the frontcourt while resting his senior. In a perfect world, Walker could also play guard because Florida is splitting its backcourt minutes between only three players right now (Scottie Wilbekin, Michael Frazier, Kasey Hill), but that’s not the reality. Still, something tells me that Donovan isn’t complaining about adding a presumed lottery-caliber talent to his rotation at this (or any) point in the season, though.