Welcome to day 2 of SECTOURNAMENFEVER, it's a lot like your regular season Fever, there's just so much more on the line and so much more Nashville! In day 2 we had bubbles popping, crazy finishes and many, many three pointers.
Some may say that the basketball we saw last night was ugly and slow and disjointed and that good lord just make it stop, but what I see are teams fighting tooth and nail for any lit bit of hope to extend their season and while it's not 40 minutes of tight passes, cleanly executed back door screens, made free throws or drop steps and ankle breaking cuts, it's still, in its own way beautiful and noble. That's what March does I suppose....
Florida (69) - Alabama (61)
In the game to see who gets to get sacrificed to the Big Blue Gods on Friday afternoon, Florida showed what good Florida can be. The Gators were hot from downtown all game long and got a big afternoon from Dorian Finney-Smith who hit for 23 points and hit 4 out of 9 from deep.The Tide meanwhile was in foul trouble for most of the game and lost key contributor Rodney Cooper late in the second half when the game was still in doubt.
Whats Next for both teams?
-Florida gets a date with the nation's #1 team Kentucky who haven't lost all year at 1:00 pm ET, can they be the ones to knock them off?
-Alabama goes home and we all sit and wait to see if Bama ends up in the NIT and if Anthony Grant gets another season leading the Tide.
Florida's not at full strength heading into this Friday showdown with Kentucky, not with Michael Frazier II (1-for-10 and 1-for-8 from three in this one for just five points) still clearly limited as a result of a high ankle sprain suffered in Florida's first meeting with the Wildcats this season. But they're close, and they played quite well against a team that doesn't have nearly the constellation of talent John Calipari has put together on Thursday.
In listening to the buzz around the Capstone it would appear the majority of fans favor a dismissal of Grant and the hiring of someone...anyone..... However it is hard to get a handle on what the administration feels. Are they pleased with graduating players, a clean program, a coach that is an outstanding role model?, or do they want and expect more, like more wins, more attendance, more NCAA tournament invites? The basketball program itself operated 8 million dollars in the black last year, an outstanding number that could be made even better with more wins and more full houses. With a lame duck President and a somewhat lame duck Athletic Director it will be hard to bring in a big name basketball guy as coach, when he won't know who his two bosses are.
Auburn (66) - Texas A&M (59)
I'm going to go ahead and quote the band from the 90s, 3rd Bass to describe what happened to A&M in this game, "Pop goes the weasel 'cause the weasel goes pop." A&M came into this game needing at least a couple wins in the SEC tournament to get back into the NCAA Tournament conversation and the Aggs played a fantastic fist half leading Auburn by ten, and then the wheels came off. Auburn outscored the Aggs by 17 points starting the second half and started the half on a 16-1 run while pretty much not missing from the outside. A&M was without Danuel House and it showed once Pearl's Tigers settled into a zone, A&M couldn't score. The dream continues for Auburn and for A&M it looks like a trip to the NIT.
What's next for both teams?
Auburn - The Tigers take on another set of Tigers, this one from LSU (who they split the season series with) 30 or so minutes after the end of the Kentucky-Florida matchup.
Texas A&M - Head back to College Station and have to be wondering what could have been. The Aggies return most of their team next year so expect this team to learn from this year and be better for it in 2015-2016.
I said it before, but Bruce Pearl is going to be Jay Jacobs' piece de resistance. What a hire for the Tigers. GREAT things are ahead. Tonight, folks, BARN SO HARD. WAR DAMN EAGLE!!!
e were confidently predicting wins against inferior opposition, looking forward to an SEC Tourney rematch with Kentucky, and picking apart Bracketology updates because we didn't like who we were paired against. Think about that. We were so comfortable in our tourney appearance that we were dissecting paths to the Sweet Sixteen.
Tennessee (67) - Vanderbilt (61)
Vandy had been the hot team coming into the SEC tournament hitting a ton of three pointers over the previous games and looked strong coming into their first game with Tennessee and for the first half and the first half of the second half, then like with A&M, it all fell apart. The shots stopped falling and the 'Dores looked rattled. Tennessee meanwhile stayed calm and finished the game on a 20 - 2 run in the final 7 minutes. Tennessee was hot from three to end the game and a switch of their "D" seemed to confuse Vanderbilt and that would be that.
What's next for both teams?
Tennessee - Has a date with the two seed Hogs of Arkansas (who they split with this season) in the first game of the night cap at 7:00 pm.
Vanderbilt - Gets on the bus and takes the short drive home to another part of Nashville. The 'Dores are young and bring back a lot of talent next year and should be a sleeper pick from the SEC to get a big dance invite in 2016.
And now, Josh Richardson was getting help. Kesling repeatedly pointed out the way the Vols worked hard to box Damian Jones out, as the shots kept coming off for Vanderbilt. Robert Hubbs hit a free throw to pull Tennessee within two. When Vandy missed another three, it was Hubbs again against contact, this time tying it up.
Damian Jones had a huge start, but the sophomore center failed to impact the final minutes of the game as Josh Richardson and the Vols took over. Tennessee used a 20-2 run in the final 6:21 to take the season series over the Commodores and, barring an NIT invite, end their season.
South Carolina (60) - Ole Miss (58)
SECBASKETBALLFEVER. That's the best way to describe the ending of this game. South Carolina lead most of the way and started missing all their free throws at the end of regulation, but we're still up 3 with seconds remaining. Then Ole Miss' Jarvis Summers hit a three and was fouled; ice in his veins he completed the four point play and the Rebels were up 1. Then, SECBASKETBALLTOURNAMENTFEVER exploded all over the court. Tyrone Johnson of SC brings the ball up the floor throws up a prayer and gets fouled (really fouled) a few feet behind the three point arc and the Cocks had life. Johnson like Summers before him calmly knocked down all three of his free throws and that was all she wrote, good night Rebels.
What say you King of the Chuckers?
What's next for both teams?
South Carolina- The Cocks live to play another day, where they'll take on Georgia in the final game of the night.
Ole Miss - The Rebs head back to Oxford and will spend the next three days sweating what happens in every other tournament and hoping beyond hope that they sneak in the backdoor of the NCAAs.
With under four minutes to go, at the final media timeout, South Carolina led 49-48. Shortly after this is when things began to accelerate. One of the SEC's best scorers, Rebel guard Stefan Moody, hit a 3-pointer to put the Rebels up 52-51 with under two minutes to play. On the next possession, with the shot clock winding down, Thornwell took the ball to the basket and earned himself an and-1, nailing the free throw and putting the Gamecocks up 54-42 with 1:37 left. After an Ole Miss timeout, Rebel senior Jarvis Summers completed a nice drive-and-dish to Sebastian Saiz to tie the game. Thronwell again bullied his way to the basket on the next trip down for a lay-in, giving USC a 56-54 lead with 45 seconds left. Moody missed a three-point attempt but on the rebound attempt Michael Carrera knocked the ball out of bounds, giving Ole Miss the ball with 33 seconds left. Moody again missed the three and Carrera secured the rebound this time. Up 56-54 with less than 30 seconds to play, Carrera had two foul shots to ice the game. He missed both of them. On the rebound, Summers flew with the ball up the floor and after a contested floater, Laimonas Chatkevicius grabbed the missed field goal and was fouled. In the same situation as Carrera before him, Chat hit 1-of-2 free throws to put USC up 57-54 with 11 seconds to play. Out of a timeout, Moody drew three Gamecock defenders and swung the ball to Summers in the left the corner, who drained a three while being fouled by Duane Notice. Tied at 57, Summers sunk his free throw attempt, giving Ole Miss a one-point lead with 3.3 seconds left. Notice originally tried to foul Moody after he crossed half-court but the refs swallowed their whistles, thus giving us this outrageous finish. Senior guard Tyrone Johnson received the inbounds pass and charged up the floor. While attempting a running three, a few feet behind the 3-point line, Ole Miss guard Snoop White fouled Johnson in the act shooting. Ty was now going to the line with 0.7 seconds left for three foul shots and a shot to redeem his team. Johnson hadn't hit a field goal all night but had made two free throws earlier. He ranks as the SEC's seventh best free throw shooter at 82 percent for the season. The senior knocked in all three of his attempts and a block on Ole Miss' heave at the end gave South Carolina an improbable 60-58 win.
I'm not gonna pretend like I know more about hoops strategy then a guy that gets paid $1.8 million a year to coach basketball. But I'll be damned if I know what Andy Kennedy's approach was. There was almost no ball movement -- the Rebs repeatedly lobbed pull-up jumpers from the perimeter early in the shot clock. Prior to the should-have-been-game-winning assist from Moody, Ole Miss' last three possessions -- each of which could have tied or taken the lead -- featured shots without a single pass.
And that will do it for Day 2! I don't believe I've seen a day of basketball like this before. Love it or hate it, drama is fun and today was chock-a-bock full of SECDRAMA.
Take a deep breath, enjoy the great games we've got today as all top 4 seeds get into the action after the double byes and Belegcam will have you covered on Saturday to cover all that action.
I'll be back on Sunday to wrap up the semi finals, let's hope the SEC keeps it just a little weird over the next few days.