Hey everybody! Belegcam here (the non-Jimmie portion of your #SECBASKETBALLFEVER team), and if you can find a way to pry yourself away from the Pro Bowl hype for a few minutes, I've got the scoop on yesterday's (and Thursday's) SEC action.
Florida (68) - Alabama (62) - January 23, 2014
It was perfunctory, perhaps, but Florida's racking up a lot of those perfunctory wins against decent teams on the road, and has been far more consistent at home. If the Gators can top Tennessee on Saturday, in their first game in Gainesville in 10 days, Florida will be very well-positioned to stay undefeated in SEC play until a brutal week in mid-February featuring road trips to Tennessee and Kentucky.
And the goose egg in the column marked L will matter a lot more than the style points earned along the way.
The difference in the game was in three point shooting. 'Bama made only one each half, and shot 2-12 on the game. In contrast Florida was 10-28 from behind the arc, giving them 44% of their points on threes. Overall the Tide outshot the Gators 38.6% to 37.7%.
01/23/2014 Florida vs Alabama Men's Basketball Highlights (via SECDigitalNetwork)
Vanderbilt (66) - Texas A&M (55) - January 25, 2014
James Siakam put together his best game as a Commodore on Saturday, keeping Vanderbilt over .500 with a double-double that downed Texas A&M 66-55. The junior forward had 22 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks to improve Vandy to 10-8 on the season.
Today's loss is the third this season to a team ranked 100+ in the RPI. In the last three years, the Aggies are only 15-37 against teams in the top 150 RPI, and 3-22 against teams in the top 50 RPI. Where are the wins coming from? 29-2 against teams ranked worse than 150 over three years. I guess that's where we are. We have become a middle of the pack team that wins the majority of the cupcake games and has a 13% winning percentage against teams that should make the NCAA Tournament. Nobody is happy with that. The fans. The team. The coaches.
There won't be any supporters left after this season. #itsover— Carlos Toraño (@catorano) January 25, 2014
The only highlights I could find were this A&M-centric clip, but you can find the replay on ESPN3 here.
Highlights: Men's Basketball vs Vanderbilt (via Texas A&M Athletics)
Kentucky (79) - Georgia (54)
But this game wasn't just about wearing down Georgia, it was about coming together as a team. I saw notable foul-line huddles, a lot of sharing the ball, and a whole lot less one-on-one than I have seen from this team all season. I think that's significant. Your mileage may vary; but I would point out that despite Kentucky's prodigious individual talent, basketball is a team game, and only good teams win the NCAA Tournament.
Going to Kentucky and trying to win is a difficult task under the best of circumstances. Trying to do so without one of your best players is another thing entirely. Georgia fell to the Wildcats Saturday afternoon 79-54 without Kenny Gaines who sat out due to a leg injury.
No highlights appear to be available for this game, but the replay is available here.
Florida (67) - Tennessee (41)
Given how Florida's defense smithereened Tennessee's offense over and over again, disrupting sets in the half court, forcing bad shots by the bushel, and pressing the Vols' ball-handlers to death, though, Michael Jordan might have looked bad against the Gators on this day. Florida allowed 0.65 points per possession — second only to the 0.53 it permitted Savannah State to score in a 76-34 rout — despite conceding 16 offensive rebounds, and allowed just 26 points in the final 29:11 of play. And from the 9:11 mark of the first half until the 2:16 mark of the second half, when Billy Donovan called off the dogs and sent in walk-ons Jacob Kurtz and Billy Donovan, Florida outscored Tennessee 52-22.
Rocky Top Talk didn't have a recap up at press time, but you can find their game thread here.
01/25/14 Tennessee vs Florida Men's Basketball Highlights (via SECDigitalNetwork)
Missouri (82) - South Carolina (74)
Whlie [sic] a couple of shooters struggled (Demetrius Henry was 1-6 from the floor; Duane Notice went 1-4), the offense carried enough weight to win. But the Gamecocks couldn't ever really stop Missouri defensively - they didn't force enough turnovers or missed shots. Practically, the Tigers only played six players, and five of them all hit at least 3 field goals from 2-point range. Combined with hot 3-point shooting (8-17 for 47%), there simply weren't enough stops in this game defensively.
If you're here, you've probably already read Bill's Study Hall piece, but it's right here if you haven't.
01/25/14 South Carolina vs Missouri Men's Basketball Highlights (via SECDigitalNetwork)
Ole Miss (82) - Mississippi State (63)
You'd think this game would have a lot of coverage, being a rivalry game and all, but neither Red Cup Rebellion nor For Whom the Cowbell Tolls had a recap post, and their game threads combined for 45 comments. #SECBASKETBALLFEVER!
Highlights are lacking for this one. ESPN3 link.
Arkansas (86) - Auburn (67)
The Razorbacks have struggled a lot in the second half of their SEC games so far this season, but the team actually closed strong, making eight of their last nine shots. Arkansas led by about 10 points throughout most of the second half, but the late run made the game look like an even bigger blowout.
No recap from College and Magnolia, but here's their game thread.
Again, no highlights. ESPN3 replay. More on this game below.
Alabama (82) - LSU (80)
"Finally" was the theme for Saturday night's big win over LSU in Coleman Coliseum. Finally, Trevor Releford had some help. Finally, 'Bama made plays down the stretch to secure a win. Finally, Rodney Cooper came out of hibernation. Finally, Nick Jacobsgrabbed more than one rebound in a game. Finally, Alabama beat a decent to good team. Finally, Alabama won a game with its offense, no small feat after starting 0-10 when giving up 65 points or more.
And the Valley Shook wins the #SECBASKETBALLFEVER prize for this weekend, with no recap post and a game thread with all of two comments. Congratulations, LSU!
No highlights for this one either. ESPN3.
SEC standings here.
Six games in, we have Florida unbeaten atop the conference, Kentucky and Ole Miss sitting 1 game back, Georgia 2 back, and then a jumbled mess of no fewer than six 3-3 teams, including Missouri. Good news/bad news time: Mizzou still has a shot to get wins against each of the three leading teams. Unfortunately, the way Florida is playing doesn't leave much room for error.
ESPN (Joe Lunardi) (Updated 1/23/14):
3 SEC teams make Lunardi's field: Florida and Kentucky as 2s, and Tennessee as an 11 (and one of the last four byes). Missouri and Arkansas are in his First Four out.
CBS Sports (Jerry Palm) (Updated 1/24/14):
4 SEC squads here: Florida as a 2, Kentucky as a 6, Tennessee as a 10, and Arkansas as a play-in 11. Missouri lands in the first four out.
SB Nation (Chris Dobbertean) (Updated 1/21/14):
This one is a bit out of date, but 3 SEC teams make the cut: Florida as a 2, Kentucky as a 4, and Missouri as a play-in 12. Tennessee is in the first four out.
Game of the Half-Week: Auburn at Arkansas
(Note: your humble correspondent makes no claims to having insider knowledge, basketball-wonkness, or, indeed, any degree of basketball expertise at all. He's just a dude who sits on his couch and watches college basketball. Any opinions herein expressed should be taken with a grain of salt and used for entertainment purposes only.)
Arkansas is pretty much the same Mike Anderson team you remember. On offense, they play fast, shoot lots of 3s (second in the conference, behind only Ole MIss), draw lots of fouls, and (hopefully) score a lot of points. On defense, they press, trap, foul, and generally make nuisances of themselves. This game went pretty much according to plan for Arkansas. After trading scoring droughts early on, the Razorbacks hit Auburn with a big run to take a double-digit lead around the midway point and held them at arm's length the rest of the way. The Tigers never cut the lead to less than 8, and eventually got blown out of the gym by Arkansas's closing run. Obviously, Auburn is not a great team, but Arkansas looked pretty darn good against them. Other observations:
- The home-court advantage in Bud Walton Arena is a very real thing. The place was packed and loud, and I wouldn't expect any less come Tuesday. This is likely to be Missouri's toughest road experience so far this year, and it will tell us a lot about this team when we see how they handle it.
- To elaborate on the "draw lots of fouls" above, Auburn had 3 frontcourt players with 3 fouls apiece before halftime. Two of them fouled out by the end of the game.
- Arkansas sometimes plays too fast, in a phenomenon that any Missouri fan who remembers the Anderson era knows well. They will make mistakes here and there. It will be important for Missouri to take advantage of those mistakes and not hand it right back with a mistake of their own. (Do I have confidence that this will happen? Not really.)
- Arkansas's defense is vulnerable to quick drives to the basket. Auburn's Chris Denson was unable to take much advantage of this, but if Clarkson/Brown/Ross can, it could be a big night for Mizzou.
- From the "This style may be flawed in certain ways, but boy is it fun to watch" department: At one point, an Arkansas player leaped over the scorer's table saving a ball, got up, ran down the front row of the stands behind the Auburn bench, sprinted back on to the court, and made a steal at midcourt. Awesome.
If we're being honest, I don't see Mizzou pulling out this win. Arkansas is a good, athletic team that is nearly unbeatable at home. However, if the Tigers can go down to Fayetteville and come back with a win, we might be looking at a completely different narrative for the season.
That's all for today. We'll be back Thursday with all the early-week SEC action!