It's the games of the half week, enjoy!
Tennessee (67) - Georgia (48) - February 18, 2014
We wrote earlier today about UT's struggles in close games, but noted that our 15 wins have come by an average of 19.7 points. Make it 16: Tennessee blasted a Georgia team that had won four straight by, you guessed it, 19 points. It was quite similar to almost every Tennessee win this year in terms of pace, with Tennessee extending a six point halftime lead into comfy double digits early in the second half. The Vols definitely got the message about getting the ball to Jarnell Stokes, and he was spectacular: 9 of 13 for 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Georgia's four-game winning streak comes to an end after a 67-48 loss in Knoxville to the Volunteers. The loss drops the Bulldogs to 8-5 in conference play. They maintain their hold on third place but see their lead dwindle to just one game over Tennessee and Ole Miss.
Tennessee Men's Basketball v. Georgia Highlights (via utsportstv)
Kentucky (84) - Ole Miss (70) - February 18, 2014
Kentucky got a fine win on the road last night against a dangerous and mercurial Mississippi Rebels team, and true to form, Ole Miss looked both dangerous and mercurial in the same game. Kentucky dominated the game completely for long stretches, then hit a rough patch starting with about 9 minutes left in the second half.
Ole Miss gave Kentucky very little problem early, but to their great credit, they never gave up on the game. Even when Kentucky was outplaying them, the Rebels continued to try to execute their game plan. That plan finally began to work, but it was too late, and the deficit too large, for them to come back and win the game, although they did get it within two baskets.
Red Cup Rebellion did not post a game recap, but there was a good reason. Nkemdiches (who we heard a lot about during satire week) may have beaten someone up so that's where their focus is. However they did have a preview/game thread that you can read. Basically, they are not pleased as the season slips away.
Kentucky Wildcats TV: Kentucky 84 Ole Miss 70 (via Kentucky Wildcats TV)
Arkansas (71) - South Carolina (64) - February 19, 2014
South Carolina is one of the worst teams in the SEC, and Arkansas went on a big 18-2 first half run to take a 40-23 lead with 1:15 before halftime. It was going to be a smooth, routine win. Right?
The Gamecocks came roaring back. In the last minute of the first half and the first two minutes of the second, Arkansas' lead was cut from 17 points to just two. It was a 15-0 run in just about three minutes.
The Razorbacks had to find ways to manufacture points in the second half because most of the team was not shooting well. Rashad Madden, who's been tied for the team lead in points, averaging 13.2 per game, was 0-8 from the field and finished with three points. Bobby Portis also averages 13.2, but he only took five shots, making three. They were able to get to the free throw line quite a bit, taking 21 free throws (but making only 12) compared to just 8 trips to the line for South Carolina.
Whatever you might say of their road performances, you can't say they go away.
The Gamecocks came back from 17 points down in the first half to tie it up on multiple occasions on Wednesday night, erasing a 40-23 deficit when it tied the game at 55 a piece. But they could never re-gain the lead, and they ultimately fell to 0-10 on the road this season, and 3-10 in SEC play, still tied for last place in the SEC with Mississippi State.
Coming into the evening, it seemed most likely that the Hogs would force South Carolina into so many turnovers that they couldn't overcome them. While the Gamecocks did ultimately turn the ball over on over one-quarter of their possessions, Arkansas' own 24% turnover rate rendered that mostly moot. Unfortunately for Carolina, when the Hogs did get shots, they got multiple looks, as USC ceded a 46% offensive rebounding rate, allowing Arkansas extra shots all evening, most of which came from the line. While the Hogs only hit 68% of their shots from the stripe, their 19-12 advantage in points from the free throw line represented the ultimate margin of victory.
Video Highlights can be found here, at an arkansas site
LSU (92) - Mississippi State (81) - February 19, 2014
This was LSU basketball in a nutshell.
For Whom the Cow Bell Tolls has officially given up on basketball, there is literally no evidence that their team plays the sport. They dare you to engage them in basketball, DARE YOU!
Video Highlights can be found here from the Geaux Zone!
Mizzou (66) - Vanderbilt (64) - February 19, 2014
Still can't quite wrap my head around this game. Mizzou got twice as much from Wes Clark as Jabari Brown and won. Mizzou got as many 3-pointers from Johnathan Williams III as Brown and won. Vanderbilt shot 32% on 3-pointers and almost won. Vandy won the rebounding battle handily. Mizzou, the league's best free-throw shooting team, missed five of six at one point in the final minute or so. The teams combined for 41 points in the first 20 minutes and 43 in the next nine.
One of the fun things about sports is that you can still be surprised and confused by a game you've watched for decades. I'm not sure "fun" applies to last night, but ... it was an episode I'd never seen before.
Anchor of Gold did not recap the game, but they did have a live thread that you can relive here, if you want to relive this game.
02/19/2014 Vanderbilt vs Missouri Men's Basketball Highlights (via SECDigitalNetwork)
Florida (71) - Auburn (66) - February 19, 2014
Florida looked dog-tired. Patric Young was lumbering up and down the floor,Michael Frazier II was playing with some arm injury sustained on a goaltending call, Scottie Wilbekin's greyhound defense was looking more gray,Casey Prather missed a free throw off the front rim, and Will Yeguete was getting shook by Auburn players on the defensive baseline.
Auburn had been answering the question left hanging after the Tigers went cold at the end of the first meeting between the two teams this year, back in January — "What if Auburn just keeps making shots?" — by draining three after three, both of the uncontested and well-challenged varieties. And every borderline call seemed to go the Tigers' way all night, from a 50-50 continuation being granted to Chris Denson on one end just prior to Yeguete being denied one at the other to a late foul on Yeguete for doing little more than standing in Denson's way.
And in the final minute of play, Florida outscored Auburn, 8-1, with an epic Frazier three and three free throws from Young, as the Tigers melted down, fouling Young with the score tied and throwing an inbounds pass to Billy Donovan — Florida's coach, not his walk-on son.
Unless you were under a rock Wednesday night -- or if you've boycotted paying attention to Auburn basketball, which wouldn't be too unreasonable -- you missed the Tigers finding a new way to punch orange-and-blue fans in the stomach. Auburn led No. 2 Florida in Gainesville for nearly the entire game. Then, Auburn basketball did an Auburn basketball thing.
Final score: Florida 71, Auburn 66.
Auburn head coach Tony Barbee has been on the hot seat, at least according to a loud sector of the Auburn fan base, for some time now. As one might imagine, the reaction from #AuburnTwitter after the Florida game wasn't too kind to Barbee. Even your level-headed College and Mag tweeter got in on the Barbee bashing.
02/19/2014 Auburn vs Florida Men's Basketball Highlgihts (via SECDigitalNetwork)
SEC Basketball Standings:
As you can see it's quite the log jam between 4th and 10th, still a lot to play for, considering SEC tournament seeding (top 4 teams do not play until Friday) and of course a potential NCAA berth, though that list gets shorter and shorter with each passing game.
Bill's Rock M Tology has us in the field after last week's wins over Arkansas and Tennessee. Last night's win over Vandy (no matter how weird) will only solidify that spot going into the weekend. We still reside in the "Last Few In" but that's better than "First Few Out." The usual suspects pepper the bracket with Florida a 1, Kentucky a 6, and Mizzou an 11 without having to travel to Dayton.
Joe Lunardi drops brackets all the time now, it seems like multiple times a day even. For his Monday (2/17/14) bracket he had Mizzou in and not having to travel to Ohio and playing as an 11 seed against former conference mates, Oklahoma. Also in the field for the SEC were Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee (sitting as a 1, 5 and play in 11 respectively). As of Thursday, following the mid week games, Mizzou now sits as a 10 seed trending up with a first round match up with Mike Dixon and Memphis. Florida still sits as a 1 seed, Kentucky as a 5 and Tennessee now avoiding Dayton with an 11 seed.
Chris Dobbertean of SB Nation bring his bracket in and it has Mizzou as a rising 10 taking on UNC in a matchup that would be fun for me if anyone in my family that went to UNC followed college basketball. Also in the field for the SEC are Florida as a 1 and Kentucky as a 4. Tennessee narrowly misses the cut and are on the first four out line.
Jerry Palm's has delivered his thoughts and has Mizzou as a 10, and like Lunardi's Monday bracket has us playing the Sooners. Also in the field are the Gators as 1, Kentucky as a 5 and Tennessee as a play in 12.
It appears that the SEC will hover between 3 and 4 teams making the dance just because of the week to week changes that we see, mostly due to the unbalanced schedule of the SEC and the fact that outside Florida (and maybe Kentucky) no one is great and a lot of teams are mostly good. All Mizzou has to do is keep winning and they'll solidify their place on the bubble.
Game of the Half Week, a look at a fun Big East game matching Providence and Villanova.
This game won't have much bearing on Mizzou's season as Providence did end up losing in Double Over Time. Had the Friars won, they potentially could have started nosing their way onto the bubble and disrupting Mizzou's chances a little I suppose. To get to OT and Double OT was a thing of beauty shot wise for Providence hitting threes when it counted in an atmosphere you'd expect during the NCAA or Big East tournament. If you were a Providence fan, it's almost unfair that you had to lose this game. To my game thoughts!
- This game was on FS1 (or the Big East Network) and called by Dick Stockton and former Maryland Head Coach and RJ Bentleys patron, Gary Williams. I was excited to say the least. Gary does a good job calling a game as the ex coach who isn't a pain in the ass about it.
- Villanova looked like a typical top 10 team on the road, playing their game (a lot of inside out and slashing towards the basket) and a somewhat pressing defense with quick hands. But like a top 10 team on the road in February they made the mistakes that help keep bubble teams like Providence in games; strong crowd, hitting contested shots and silly mistakes.
- Providence plays essentially 6 (seriously, and you thought Vanderbilt was depleted) players which are quick and blessed with bigger guards. They like to shoot the threes and will look for it early in the shot clock. They did shoot pretty well in this game where Villanova did have to respect the pump fake.
- Providence got a lot of what I would consider home cooking from the officials. In the first half there were quite a few calls that either should have been made against Providence or against Villanova that was just wrong from an outsider's point of view.
- I loved Villanova's size distribution. It's nice to see bigs that rebound well and can hit those 6 - 10 foot jumpers, such a luxury to have come tournament time. However the free throw shooting, yikes, this really kept Providence (who is the best free throw shooting team in the country) in the game giving them the opportunity to get to OT.
- At the end of regulation and the first over time Villanova had opportunities to win the game but just came up short with missed shots close in and then on the flip side playing defense for too long.
To conclude I would say that Providence reminds me a lot of Mizzou. Good opportunities to score and get the big win, but comes up just a bit short. The win would have really helped Providence to complement an earlier season win over Creighton. For Villanova, they're a good looking team that should make some noise in the NCAA tournament this March. Bigs who score, strong three point shooting, rebounding and they get good clean steals.
Thanks as always for reading, and leave us comments or notes in the comments if you've got any!