There were four games on the docket in Atlanta yesterday, and three of them had some solid drama. The fourth was a bit of a dud, but what do you want from the SEC? The atmosphere wasn't exactly electric (to put it mildly), but some exciting basketball made up for it.
#8 Missouri (91) - #9 Texas A&M (83) (2OT)
Somehow, these teams came up with even more drama then they had in their matchup last week. Missouri lost both Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson to foul trouble, but still managed to pull it out, thanks to some "interesting" play from Shane Rector.
I was hoping to find some hyperbolic commentary from Good Bull Hunting, but there wasn't as much as a game thread over there. Alas. A&M technically has a chance at a NIT bid, but it doesn't look very likely, given the surfeit of low- and mid-major conference regular season champions losing in their tournaments and landing in the NIT.
03/13/2014 Texas A&M vs Missouri Men's Basketball Highlights (via SECDigitalNetwork)
#13 South Carolina (71) - #5 Arkansas (69)
Everybody jump aboard the Gamecock bandwagon! They're this year's SEC Tournament Cinderella, going from a 13 seed to the quarterfinals (and perhaps beyond!) This game was close the whole time, but South Carolina finally managed to pull away and hang on despite some unreliable free throw shooting down the stretch.
The Gamecocks struggled mightily with turnovers at times, but when they kept the ball they made it count, scoring over 1.5 points on every possession that didn't end in a turnover. That was spurred on primarily by their ability to extend possessions thanks to 23 offensive rebounds, which allowed USC to take 47 field goal attempts and 41 free throw attempts on just 47 possessions where they didn't turn the ball over.
I do think the Razorbacks' résumé will be brought up with the selection committee. But, like a lot of people looking for their first job, the committee will say, "sorry, we are going to go in a different direction."
For whatever reason, the SEC didn't put up a highlight reel on YouTube. Here's one on Arkansas's site.
#7 LSU (68) - #10 Alabama (56)
The only real dud on the day came in the evening session's first game, as the Tigers shut down Trevor Releford and the Alabama offense. They never quite managed to pull away for a blowout win, but it was never really in doubt.
It's a good time for the team to start looking like the one we all expected to see early on in the season, because Kentucky is up next. LSU might need to win just to reach the NIT. A win isn't even particularly unlikely, as the Tigers were this close to sweeping UK in the regular season. Add in the Wildcats' struggles of late, and LSU could be the wild card.
A pretty bad year (even by Alabama standards) met its end. Roll Bama Roll has the autopsy report.
The season was not what anyone wanted, but the team did play hard, but not always smart or well. There seems to be enough pieces in place to have a successful season next year. If Coach Grant makes it to next season, he will be under a microscope. 2014-2015 will be a make or break season for him, and the team will need to make significant strides, including making the NCAA tournament, and perhaps winning a couple of games while there. As the Cubs fans have been saying for over 100 years, "Wait till next year!"
03/13/2014 Alabama vs LSU Men's Basketball Highlights (via SECDigitalNetwork)
#6 Ole Miss (78) - #14 Mississippi State (66)
In the basketball Egg Bowl rubber match, the Rebels trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half, but roared back to win by 12, ending the Bulldogs' season.
If you're not one for doing the math, that's a ~17 minute 40-15 run over most of the second half.
For Whom the Cowbell Tolls doesn't have any coverage of yesterday's game, but they do have coverage of a game that happened 6 years ago. I don't get you, MSU bloggers.
03/13/2014 Mississippi State vs Mississippi Men's Basketball Highlights (via SECDigitalNetwork)
#8 Missouri vs. #1 Florida (1 p.m. Eastern, ESPNU)
If you're on this blog, I don't need to tell you what's at stake here for Missouri. A win is of paramount importance. Unfortunately, Florida hasn't lost a SEC game all year. If Missouri has an advantage today, it's this: Missouri has everything to play for, but Florida has only pride on the line. A loss here probably wouldn't even knock the Gators off the 1 line.
#13 South Carolina vs. #4 Tennessee (25 mins. after previous game's end, ESPNU)
South Carolina has nothing to lose today, while Tennessee is trying to consolidate their tournament bid. The Volunteers are probably more entrenched than Arkansas was with their recent super-hot streak, but a loss today wouldn't do them any favors. I would imagine that Frank Martin and his team would love to bump off another SEC bubble team.
#7 LSU vs. #2 Kentucky (7 p.m. Eastern, SECTV/ESPN3)
This game might be a bit more interesting than your garden-variety 2-7 game. LSU has had the Wildcats' number all year, winning in Baton Rouge and coming darn close in Lexington. This game is unlikely to have tournament implications, but it might be worth a watch anyway.
#6 Ole Miss vs. #3 Georgia (25 mins. after previous game's end, SECTV/ESPN3)
The SEC's most surprising team meets the Marshall Henderson show. The Bulldogs pulled off a 1-point win at home in these teams' only meeting this season. Both teams likely need to win the SEC tournament to make the NCAA one, so expect a lot of high-effort play.
The SEC Tournament rolls on, and HHKB Chris will have the quarterfinal recaps for you tomorrow morning. Let's hope we're celebrating then.