After a seemingly interminable non-conference schedule during which the supposedly improved SEC showed that it may not have gotten really any better, conference play has finally begun. All 12 teams from around the league played this past Saturday and we have another full slate of games this week and next.
Since SEC play is underway, I’m going to giving you a weekly update on the conference. I’ll be highlighting some of the more notable results from the previous week, as well as some of the matchups to look forward to during the coming week. Also, I’ll give you my opinion on how teams stack up with one another in the Pinkie’s weekly power rankings. Enjoy!
Notable Scores from the Week That Was
Georgia 77 #10 Kentucky 70
After a fairly strong non-conference schedule, but a non-conference schedule that lacked a true signature win, Georgia was looking to declare itself a legitimate contender in the SEC with the defending champs visiting Athens.
That’s exactly what they did.
In front of a very un-Georgia basketball-like energetic home crowd, the Bulldogs grabbed a double digit lead early and held off the Wildcats late. Trey Thompkins (25 points, 7 rebounds) and Travis Leslie (15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) led the way for Mark Fox’s resurgent bunch, who broke into the the AP top 25 with the win.
South Carolina 83 #22 Vanderbilt 75
With SEC favorite UK dropping its opener, Vanderbilt looked to get an early head start on the Wildcats. It wasn’t to be though, as the ‘Dores frittered away an 11 point lead in the final nine minutes of regulation and couldn’t score the ball in overtime. Sam Muldrow notched a triple double with 16 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 blocks, rendering Vandy’s Festus Ezeli (arguably the most improved played in the league not nicknamed Jorts) foul-ridden and ineffective.
Also, if you haven’t heard of South Carolina’s star freshman point guard, you’ll know about Bruce Ellington soon enough. He was under the radar in high school, but not any longer. He had 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists in the comeback and is going to terrorize the SEC for years to come.
LSU 62 Auburn 55
You may be wondering why I would spend any time talking about a game between the two teams that are probably the worst in the conference. The reason? Auburn scored six (as in the number 6) points during a putrid first half in which they shot 8% and fell behind by 26 points. They nearly completed the comeback in a 49 point second half, but the offensively inept Auburn Tigers couldn’t quite get it done.
Arkansas 68 Tennessee 65 – UT’s first game with Bruce Pearl suspended didn’t go so well
Alabama 75 Mississippi State 57 – I’m trying to turn away from the train wreck in Starkville, but I can’t help but look
Florida 77 Ole Miss 71 – I’m not yet sure what to make of the Gators
Games of the Week
Florida @ Tennessee – 9 PM Tuesday, ESPN
An important game for two teams with NCAA Tournament aspirations. Tennessee has fallen precipitously after a great start. Now without their coach on the sideline for the next seven conference games, the Vols need to rebound or the Selection Committee is going to quit paying attention. Florida, on the other hand, has won four in a row and an early season conference schedule that could have them sitting pretty at 6-0 if they can win this one. Before the season, this looked like a marquee Super Tuesday matchup. It’s lost some luster, but it’s still an intriguing game.
#24 Georgia @ Vanderbilt – 8 PM Wednesday, SEC Network
How good of a job has Mark Fox done in his two years at Georgia? He has them 13-2 and looking like one of the best teams in the conference. This test, though, may be a little bit too tall for the Bulldogs.
Facing Vandy on the road with the ‘Dores needing to rebound from a loss is a lot to ask of a team that has never really handled success before. If Georgia pulls it off, it would be even more impressive than knocking off a young Kentucky team at home.
Vanderbilt @ Tennessee – 12 PM Saturday, ESPN
Tennessee really could not have picked a worse time to be thrust on the national scene, with two ESPN games this week, including this one, which College Gameday will be in attendance for. The Vols are reeling and really could use a sweep of Florida and Vandy at home, while Vandy will look to avoid a 1-2 (or maybe even 0-3) start in SEC play.
Other Games This Week
Auburn @ #13 Kentucky – 7 PM Tuesday, ESPNU
Arkansas @ LSU – 8 PM Wednesday, SEC Network
South Carolina @ Alabama – 9 PM Wednesday, CSS
Mississippi State @ Ole Miss – 9 PM Thursday, ESPN2
South Carolina @ Florida – 1:30 PM Saturday, SEC Network
Alabama @ Arkansas – 1:30 PM Saturday, SEC Network
LSU @ #13 Kentucky – 4 PM Saturday, SEC Network
Georgia @ Ole Miss – 5 PM Saturday, FSN
Auburn @ Mississippi State – 2 PM Saturday, FSN
1. Kentucky 12-3 (0-1) – The fact that UGA loss was on the road keeps them here
2. Georgia 12-2 (1-0) – For now, they’ve earned this spot
3. Florida 12-3 (1-0) – UT game will be very telling
4. Vanderbilt 11-3 (0-1) – I still think they’ll end up being UK’s strongest competition
5. Arkansas 11-3 (1-0) – John Pelphrey could really use a big run in SEC play
6. Tennessee 10-5 (0-1) – I’m putting them this high because they still have some best talent in the SEC
7. South Carolina 10-4 (1-0) – Bruce Ellington, heir apparent to Devan Downey
8. Ole Miss 12-4 (0-1) – Chris Warren is the SEC’s second leading scorer in what seems like his 10th year at Ole Miss
9. Alabama 9-6 (1-0) – They can’t score the ball, but they REALLY get after it on defense
10. Mississippi State 8-7 (0-1) – I believe Tom Petty and Heartbreakers had a song called “Freefallin’”
11. LSU 9-7 (1-0) – Trent Johnson’s team is among the youngest in D-1
12. Auburn 7-8 (0-1) – Tony Barbee’s team is among the most offensively inept in D-1