Hello and welcome back to SECBasketballFever, now with bubbles!!!
Arkansas (71) - Mizzou (75) - January 27, 2014
No way around it. That's one Arkansas really needed.
We've spent the month of January talking about what Arkansas needs to do to get in theNCAA Tournament, talking about how close they've been, but eventually all the close-but-no-cigars need to turn into some big fat Cubans, and that's just not happening.
The reality of the magic of Bud Walton is that last year, Arkansas was extremely fortunate to run the table in SEC play. They had to pull a few rabbits out of their hat to do it, but Qualls' dunk against Kentucky seems to be the only thing in that hat this year.
I assumed Missouri would win the rebounding battle. I did not assume Missouri would be +9.3 in terms of expected rebounds. Mizzou dominated the glass, to the point where dreadful ball-handling didn't catch up to the Tigers. Mizzou turned the ball over on more than one-fourth of its possessions, but the Tigers shot better than Arkansas (especially from the free throw line), and while Arkansas grabbed about one-quarter of its misses, Mizzou grabbed nearly half. Arkansas had 17 defensive rebounds, and Missouri had 16 offensive rebounds. That's a pretty good recipe for success.
01/28/2014 Missouri vs Arkansas Men's Basketball Highlights (via SECDigitalNetwork)
LSU (87) - Kentucky (82) - January 27, 2014
Especially in a sport like college basketball, where building a resume is almost inextricable from a team's goals, it can be easy to lose sight of the singular impact one game can have.
That should not be the case here. Beating Kentucky is the reward in itself, much like besting Alabama in football has become. The Wildcats are the perennial monster atop the SEC, a Big Blue Nation similar in fervor and reach to the roll of the Tide. Regardless of LSU's postseason hopes or progression as a team, no one can take this one away from Johnny Jones and the Tigers.
A signature win is on the books in Jones' second season. Even Daddy Dale Brown came to the postgame press conference, because he knows that beating almost any Kentucky team is still a pinnacle moment for a LSU coach. In fact, it was the highest-ranked win the program has had since beating No. 3 Florida. In 2007. And was it ever a thing of beauty how the Tigers achieved it.
No matter how hard I tried last night, I couldn't process the reality of this game — that LSU just completely outplayed Kentucky on both ends of the floor.
Sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way, and in the game against the LSU Tigers last night, that was certainly the case. As usual, the analyst in me wants to find the specific cause of the failure, so I go back to Ken Pomeroy's numbers to try to look past my lying eyes.
01/28/2014 Kentucky vs LSU Men's Basketball Highlights (via SECDigitalNetwork)
South Carolina (80) - Texas A&M (52) - January 28, 2014
After the Gamecocks opened the conference season with six straight losses - four of which came by less than 10 points - some wondered if Carolina was simply too young to win close games. That question may remain in the minds of some, but one thing's for sure - on the right night, they can win a blowout.
South Carolina finally got the monkey off its back, running away with an emphatic 80-52 win over Texas A&M on Wednesday night in snowy Columbia, their biggest SEC win since a 94-60 victory in Knoxville in the 2002 season. The win moves the Gamecocks to 8-12 on the season, and 1-6 in conference play.
Destroyed by the worst team in the SEC: Check
So the Aggies got destroyed on the road tonight by South Carolina, yeah, the formerly 0-6 South Carolina.
After the quote above, they literally focus on signing day (aside from wanting to fire their coach and fix everything with cash), A&M has truly gone plaid for the SEC...
Unfortunately there were no game highlights available, but you can rewatch the game on ESPN3 here.
Georgia (54) - Vanderbilt (59) - January 28, 2014
If this isn't rock bottom for Georgia it has to be close. The Bulldogs turned in one of their worst offensive performances of the season in a 59-54 loss to Vanderbilt at Stegeman Coliseum.
Offensively, Georgia struggled from the outset and a few late baskets prevented it from being worse. The Bulldogs shot 15-55 for the game which equates to just over 27 percent. With Vanderbilt sitting in a zone for most of the game, Georgia fired away from the outside while making one of their first 17 attempts from three-point range. They would finish 4-23. Despite that futility, they were able to remain within striking distance for the entire game.
It wasn't pretty, but Vanderbilt beat Georgia on Wednesday to pick up their second straight SEC victory. Rod Odom had 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead Vandy to within one game of .500 in conference play.
Vanderbilt's defense came up big to give the Commodores their ninth-straight win over Georgia. The Bulldogs made just 27.3% of their shots in a 59-54 home loss on Wednesday.
Rod Odom and Dai-Jon Parker led Vandy to a key conference win on a night where both teams took a cue from the weather and went cold for extended stretches. Odom had 16 points and 12 rebounds while Parker had one of his most complete games of the season with 15 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.
Unfortunately there were no game highlights available, and you can't even stream it, so I would say watch your favorite basketball movie instead!
Tennessee (84) - Mississippi (72) - January 28, 2014
This was a big, much-needed win at home to improve the team to 13-7 (4-3). The Vols move to 48 in RPI and now head out on a two game road trip to Tuscaloosa and Nashville. Tennessee really couldn't afford another home loss right now, so just getting the win and moving on from Florida was great. But winning like this, like losing like that on Saturday, was eye-opening. Tennessee is a really good basketball team when it gets contributions from Josh Richardson, who was 6 of 11 for 16 points tonight. And against teams who lack an interior presence, the Vols can really clean up: Maymon and Stokes combined for a 29/23 tonight.
The Ole Miss Rebels missed an opportunity to tremendously boost their NCAA Tournament resume last night, a statement which itself is far too white-washy over just how bad last night's 16-point loss to the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville truly was. The Rebs were never really in the game, trailing from the get-go to the Vols and suffering a double-digit deficit for much of the contest.
Unfortunately there were no game highlights available, but you can rewatch the game on ESPN3 here.
Auburn (X) - Alabama (X) - January 28, 2014 - What the Iron Bowl would be if no one really cared. This game was postponed due to the snow and ice storm and will be played tonight. Belegcam is the lucky recipient of adding this game to his docket for the weekend.
SEC Standings as of this moment! (Note Alabama and Auburn have not played this week due to weather)
Everyone's got a win in conference, except Auburn who can get one tonight!
Teams without a conference road win: Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi State and South Carolina.
Joe Lunardi's latest mock bracket is up and he has Mizzou as a 12 seed without having to go through Dayton. We'd play Wisconsin in this set up and that would be boring I imagine. Also making the cut are Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee. Lunardi has LSU on the first four out list, so they still have some work to do in his eyes and Arky as a next four out, so they're still hanging on for dear bracket life.
Chris Dobbertean of SB Nation provides his latest feelings on the bracket, and he's got Mizzou in as a 12 seed, and this was before the Arky road win, so I imagine for his next installment we should be in the 8/9 region dependent upon what happens Saturday. He also has Kentucky and Florida in as well, which I imagine will change next week after this week's games.
Jerry Palm of CBS Sports gives his bracket prognostication has Mizzou as an 11 seed against George Washington which would cause the smallest bit of drama in the HHKB household, so that would be fun. He's also got Tennessee and Arky in the "first round" and Florida and Kentucky firmly in the field as well, though I imagine LSU will jump in next week as well.
Because just guessing who's in and who's out isn't enough anymore. Where does Mizzou sit vis-a-vis the bubble along with other SEC teams?
Michael Bueller of SI has got pretty much everyone you'd expect on the bubble for the SEC (Arky, LSU, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Mizzou), but this should start sorting itself following this weekend's games.
SB Nation has a bubble watch section, but it has not been updated since January 22nd, but hey, it's still basketball related media, so read away.
ESPN Eamonn Brennan does not have his first of the year up yet and has to date refused to answer my one twitter question, so I imagine once the calendar turns to February he'll start posting.
Scouting Mizzou's Next Opponent - LSU vs. Kentucky
LSU hosted Kentucky this past Tuesday night and I sat down to watch it following the Mizzou game. I was fearful we'd lose and I'd be salty or on a path down the bottle, but not this night! This game should provide a good idea of what to expect this Saturday when the Wild Cats of Kentucky come to Columbia to face our Tigers in a second straight road tilt. To the observations strictly from what happened in the game!
- Winning on the road is hard, even for Kentucky.
- Kentucky got down big right from the jump, much in the way Mizzou did to Vandy and it was too much to come back from, especially with a team composed of freshman who have faced very little adversity in their careers. The biggest mistake, leaving Johnny O'Bryant single covered for most of the first half.
- Credit to Kentucky, they were contesting a lot of shots, LSU just made most of them. It seemed to be a case where as Bill C says, basketball is sometimes stupid.
- Julius Randle is no Anthony Davis on Offense, and no Nerlens Noel on Defense, but he's going to be a tough match up for our bigs under the basket.
- Kentucky plays well in transition, less well when they have to set up an offense, also like our Tigers. Also like our Tigers Kentucky rebounds really, really well.
- We may have to move away from the zone D on them, man to man with help on the blocks may have to be the way to go.
- This team is still young and that's apparent from how they play together and how they can get down on themselves if things don't go really well from the get go.
- Willie Cauley-Stein is suffering in ways that JWIII, kind of getting knocked around due to lack of weight for his size and did not have a great game around the rim. Though not many people look great against Johnny O'Bryant. He also was seen jawing with an assistant coach on the bench, showing that these younger kids are a bit fragile mentally.
- So, what do I make of Kentucky? Obviously one game does not a season define, but there are things the Tigers and fans at Mizzou Arena can do to help push us to a W. Kentucky is very young and it shows, so if we can get off to a good start and then play good D we have a chance. Kentucky's size does make me nervous as LSU did. Not sure how it will go, but if we play like a team like we did Tuesday, we've got a shot.
That's it for your mid week installment of SECBASKETBALLFEVER, Belegcam will take us through the weekend and prep us for FLA. In the meantime, as always, leave comments about what you like and don't like, and I'll see you in a week...except for the Jimmies who I will see Saturday if the Tro abides.