SEC basketball notebook

This season, only two SEC teams are currently ranked in the AP poll with Florida leading the way at No. 2 followed by Kentucky (9). In the USA Today/ESPN poll, Florida leads the duo at No. 2 with Kentucky at No. 3.

Poll Worthy

The SEC is the only conference in the nation to have all of its teams ranked at least one week in the Associated Press top 20 (excluding preseason polls) since 1997-98. Simply stated, every SEC team has been a top 20 team nationally at one point in the last six-plus seasons.

Noteworthy

  • With a 35-4 non-conference record this season, the SEC continues its annual success in out-of-conference play just as it has in the last 10 years.
  • SEC teams are 1-2 against national ranked non-conference opponents.
  • SEC teams own a 29-0 record when leading at the half.
  • Southeastern Conference teams have a 24-2 record when outrebounding their opponents.
  • Southeastern Conference teams have a 24-1 record when shooting 45 percent or better from the field.
  • Southeastern Conference teams have a 29-1 record at home this season.
  • The SEC leads the nation with 35 NCAA Division I non-conference wins, as of December 1.
  • The Southeastern Conference ranks third in non-conference winning percentage.

This Week's Schedule

December 3 (Wednesday)
Ole Miss at Florida State [FoxSN/SUN] 7:00 ET
South Carolina at The Citadel 7:15 ET
Louisiana-Monroe at Mississippi State 7:00 CT
IUPUI at Vanderbilt 7:00 CT
Oral Roberts at Arkansas [ARSN] 7:05 CT
Charlotte at Alabama [FoxSN/SUN] 8:00 CT

December 4 (Thursday)
11-Florida vs. Central Florida 7:30 ET

December 5 (Friday)
Florida A&M at Georgia 7:00 ET

December 6 (Saturday)
12-Arkansas at Illinois Noon ET
Stetson at Florida [SUN] Noon ET
13-Kentucky vs. UCLA [CBS] (AM) 10:30 PT
UAB at Mississippi State [FoxSN/SUN] 1:00 CT
Austin Peay at Alabama [CSS] 4:00 CT
Memphis at Ole Miss [ESPN2] 5:00 CT
South Carolina at Clemson [FoxSN/SUN] 7:00 ET
Michigan at Vanderbilt [FoxSN/SUN] 8:00 CT

December 7 (Sunday)
Air Force at Auburn 2:00 CT

Conference Team-by-Team Notes

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Alabama begins a four-game home stand Wednesday when Charlotte comes to Tuscaloosa. The 49ers squad includes a handful of players coached by and recruited by Tide assistant Orlando Early who was an assistant coach at Charlotte from 1998-2001 before joining the Alabama staff in April 2001. Bama hosts defending Ohio Valley champion Austin Peay on Saturday. Sophomore forward Kennedy Winston has moved into a first-time role as the scoring leader for the Crimson Tide. The Prichard native is averaging 14.5 points after four games, just a fraction above junior guard Earnest Shelton's 14.0 points a game. Senior forward Emmett Thomas came off the bench to lead Alabama with 20 points in its 76-71 loss at Providence on Saturday night, a game where Alabama came to within two points with a minute left after being down by 22---including 20 at the half. Thomas was 7 of 10 from the field and 5 of 6 from 3-point range in his 31 minutes on the floor. Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried collected his 100th UA career win this past weekend when the Tide defeated Louisiana Tech 69-63.

ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS
Sophomore Jonathon Modica has led the Razorbacks in scoring in all three games this year after getting a game-high 23 in the win over Jacksonville. He hit 10 of 13 shots in the win, and is shooting 72.2 percent for the season (26-36) and averaging 22.7 points a game. Freshman Ronnie Brewer has led the Hogs in assists in each game after getting seven against JU. He is averaging 12.7 points and team highs of 6.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists. Arkansas is off to its first 3-0 start since the 1998-99 club started 4-0. The JU game was played in Alltel Arena in North Little Rock, giving Arkansas an all-time record of 79-19 in Little Rock-area games. Arkansas sophomore Jonathon Modica scored a game-high 26 points in the 89-60 victory over Nicholls State, matching his career high set in consecutive games last year against Florida and Alabama. Freshman Ronnie Brewer had 18 points, a game-high eight assists and a team-high seven rebounds in his UA debut. The 89 points scored are the most for the Hogs since the 109-94 loss at Alabama on Jan. 30, 2002. The Hogs are now 63-18 all-time in season openers and 73-8 in their first home game of the year.

AUBURN TIGERS
Monday's game against Colorado State will mark the first time Cliff Ellis has coached against the Rams in his 29 years of Division I coaching. This is a Mountain West Conference week for Auburn as the Tigers play host to defending MWC Tournament Champion Colorado State on Monday at 7 p.m. and Air Force on Sunday at noon. Three of Auburn's next four games are against MWC teams with a Las Vegas showdown appearance with UNLV on December 20 on ESPN. Colorado State sophomore guard Michael Morris of Katy, Texas, is the son of former Auburn All-SEC Chris Morris. Morris played in four-straight NCAA Tournaments in his Auburn career. He had an outstanding 12-year NBA career with the Nets, Jazz and Suns. Auburn is playing its second game in three days for the second consecutive weekend. The Tigers defeated Grambling State 105-56 in Huntsville, Ala., on Saturday. Auburn is off to its best start at 4-0 since the 1998-99 SEC Championship season when the Tigers reeled off 17-straight wins. Seven Auburn players recorded season-highs for points in the 105-56 blowout of Grambling State on Saturday. Auburn recorded season-highs of 65 percent (33-of-54) shooting from the field and 54 percent (7-of-13) from 3-point range against Grambling. The Tigers also recorded a season-high nine dunks.

FLORIDA GATORS
The University of Florida upset No. 3/4 Arizona 78-77 Friday night at the MassMutual Classic in Springfield, Mass., when Bonell Colas hit his first, and only, basket of the game, a lay-up with just over seven seconds remaining. Matt Walsh earned MVP honors, torching the Wildcats for 27 points, including five three-pointers in the second half. Walsh shot 10-of-18 from the floor overall, including 5-of-8 from three-point range. David Lee had a double-double, posting 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Anthony Roberson made his season debut and scored 15 points to go along with four assists. It was the Gators' 30th all-time win against a Top 10 opponent. It was the highest ranked team the Gators have beaten since Nov. 29, 2002 when they toppled then-No. 2 Kansas. Florida trailed 34-33 at the half, but went on a 13-4 run to open the second half. The teams battled back and forth and the Gators trailed by as many as seven with under six minutes remaining before staging their rally. Florida returns to action on Tuesday to face Florida A&M, the first of three games for the Gators in five days.

GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Georgia plays host to Towson this week. The Tigers are coached by Michael Hunt, who served as an assistant at Georgia from 1998-2001. The Bulldogs are coming off a 82-76 loss in overtime at 16th-ranked Gonzaga, a game that featured nine ties and 16 lead changes. For one brief stretch during the first half, Georgia had four freshman and a lone senior on the court. Three Georgia seniors got career scoring highs last week including, Rashad Wright (25 vs. Fla. Atlantic), Damien Wilkins (24 vs. Fla. Atlantic) and Jonas Hayes (20 vs. Gonzaga). Rashad Wright hit a short jumper to tie the score at 71-all and Gonzaga's half court shot missed as time expired. Wright led Georgia with 21 points and played 44 minutes. Damien Wilkins added 17 points for Georgia. After shooting 45 percent in the first half, Georgia connected on just 13 of 34 shots in the second half and overtime. Gonzaga led at the half 37-33. Last year, Georgia beat Gonzaga 95-83 in Atlanta, Gonzaga's largest margin of defeat all season. Georgia opened the season with a pair of home wins, 78-67 over Western Carolina and 99-84 over Florida Atlantic on Tuesday night.

KENTUCKY WILDCATS
The Cats have now won 22-consecutive regular-season contests and 13-straight home games. UK's 108-point performance against Tennessee Tech was 45th time in school history, and the seventh time under Tubby Smith, that the Wildcats have reached the century mark. Gerald Fitch scored a career-high 36 points and Kentucky's starters fueled a late 26-4 run to lead the 10th-ranked Wildcats past Tennessee Tech 108-81 Friday night. All five Kentucky starters scored in double figures against TTU and accounted for 99 of UK's 108 points. Point guard Cliff Hawkins tied a career high with 17 points and set a new career mark with 11 assists versus Tennessee Tech. Junior forward Chuck Hayes recorded his seventh career double-double (13 points, 13 rebounds) in the win. Daniels scored 17 points, while Azubuike had 16. Fitch's previous career high was 25 points, which he had last season against North Carolina and IUPUI. He matched that total in the first half, making 10 of 15 shots. Fitch was the first Kentucky player to score 30 or more points in a game since Tayshaun Prince scored 41 in a NCAA tournament win over Tulsa in 2002. Kentucky's next five Saturday's feature a who's who of college basketball, with games against UCLA, Michigan State, Indiana, Louisville and North Carolina. All five games will be televised by CBS.

LSU TIGERS
Tigers end up with three wins last week over McNeese State, Troy State and Louisiana Monroe to run its record to 4-0 for the first time since the 2000 season. Jaime Lloreda in three games averaged 26.3 ppg, 12.7 rebounds, scoring 30 points with 21 rebounds against McNeese State, 23 pts against Troy State and 26 points and 10 rebounds against Louisiana Monroe. Tigers shot 64.8 percent from the field against Louisiana Monroe and through the first four games the Tigers are shooting 55.2 percent from the field, 48 percent from three-point range. Four players are averaging in double figures after four games - Lloreda 26.3 ppg, Antonio Hudson 13.3 ppg, Brandon Bass 12.3 ppg and Darrel Mitchell 11.3 ppg. Tigers now take 18 days off before its next contest, a nationally-televised ESPN game with Utah at 8 p.m. on Dec. 16. Most of that 18 days will be taken up during school regulated time when games can't be played because of concentrated study period (dead week) and final exams. The Tigers posted a 78-69 win over Troy State at the Maravich Assembly Center on Wednesday night.

OLE MISS REBELS
Ole Miss improved to 2-1 on the season after posting victories over Centenary Tuesday, 72-60, and Southeastern Louisiana Saturday, 52-48. Senior forward Justin Reed continued his torrid start with back-to-back 20-plus-point, 10-plus-rebound games. Reed's career-high 28 points vs. Centenary tied the most by an Ole Miss player since Marcus Hicks' 31 in 1999-2000. Reed's career-high 19 rebounds against Southeastern Louisiana equaled the most by a Rebel since Walter Actwood's 20 in 1975. Dating back to last season, Reed has notched 20 or more points in five straight games and is the first Rebel to manage that feat since Keith Carter in 1998-99. Reed, who has played 38 or more minutes in all three of this season's games, now boasts 14 career double-doubles and 14 20-point games. In the victory over Centenary, senior swingman Aaron Harper turned in his ninth career 20-point game, totaling 24 along with eight rebounds. Harper also knocked down two three-pointers last week to move alone into second on the Ole Miss career list for three-pointers made with 215. Ole Miss travels to Florida State Wednesday for its first road game of the 2003-04 season.

MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS
Saturday's 81-75 road win over WKU snapped the Hilltoppers' 39-game home winning streak while also having extended the Bulldogs' string of non-conference wins on the opposition's home floor to eight consecutive games. Dating back to 2000-01, MSU has now posted successive wins on the home floors of Arizona, Pittsburgh, Louisiana-Lafayette, Richmond, Tulane, South Alabama, UAB, and Western Kentucky. State opens the new week and the month of December by playing host to back-to-back Southland Conference members McNeese State on Monday and Louisiana-Monroe on Wednesday. The Bulldogs will stay at home to play host to UAB and Xavier during upcoming successive Saturdays to close out the upcoming four-game homestand. Lawrence Roberts enters the team's upcoming homestand needing 58 more points to reach the 1,000-point mark for his career. Senior co-captain Timmy Bowers is also nearing the 1,000-point plateau with 904 career points to his credit. The Bulldogs have had a different leading scorer in each of their first three games of the new campaign. Most recently, junior guard Winsome Frazier tallied a career-high 24 points, including 6-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc, in State's win at Western Kentucky.

SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
Carolina next plays at The Citadel and Clemson. Odom is 5-0 against the Citadel and 1-0 in Charleston against the Bulldogs. Odom holds a 21-8 record against the Tigers and is 2-0 against the Tigers since being head coach at USC. At Little John Coliseum, Odom is 8-5. Since the 1998-99 season at Wake Forest, Odom is 8-0 against Clemson: 6-0 at Wake Forest and 2-0 at South Carolina. His last loss against Clemson came on March 6, 1998 at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C. USC is off to its best start since the 1988-89 season when they opened up at 6-0 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. While its his best start at USC, Odom was 13-0 to start the 1996-97 season and 12-0 to begin the 2000-01 campaign at Wake Forest. The Gamecocks home mark in non-conference games is 12-0 at the Colonial Center. Neither the men or the women have dropped a non-conference loss in the Colonial Center to date. USC has won 44 of the last 45 games against the Citadel. USC's Guardians Classic title is its first tournament title since 1991 when they won the Texas Sun Classic.

TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS
Tennessee will conclude a three-game home stand to open the 2003-04 season with a contest against Texas A&M Tuesday, Dec. 2. UT has opened the season with wins over Wofford (81-70) and Tennessee State (81-56). The Vols are looking to start the season with three straight wins for the first time since the 2000-01 season when UT opened the campaign with nine consecutive wins. Brandon Crump has recorded a double-double in each of UT's two games this year. He is trying to become the first Vol to have three consecutive double-doubles since Ron Slay did it against Texas A&M, Georgia Tech and Charleston Southern in 2002-03. The Vols have outshot their opponents at the free throw line 65-8 in the first two games ... UT is shooting 59.5 percent (25-of-42) from the field in the second half this season. Seven Vols have tied or set new career scoring marks in UT's first two games. Tennessee is 49-3 in its last 52 home games against non-conference opponents. Scooter McFadgon leads Tennessee with 21.5 points per game while Brandon Crump is averaging a double-double with 12.0 points and 11.0 rebounds. C.J. Watson is averaging 10.5 points and 8.0 assists per game.

VANDERBILT COMMODORES
Vanderbilt has held all three of its opponents to 60 or fewer points. The Commodores are limiting the opposition to 34.5 percent shooting from the field (61-of-177) and a 27.7 percent shooting average from behind the arc (23-of-83). VU is outscoring its opponents by a margin of 20.7 points, and outrebounding its opponents by an average of 13.3 boards a contest. Through three games this season, the Commodores have trailed the opponent for a combined 6:15. Vanderbilt has held the lead over the opponent for the last 76:52 of play dating back to an 8-7 deficit against Indiana at the 16:52 mark of the first half. The Commodores have won 23 of their last 24 non-conference home games and 41 of their last 43 non-SEC home games since the 2000 season. Julian Terrell made 6 of 8 field goal attempts and scored a career-high 14 points against UT-Martin. David Przybyszewski recorded his first career double-double with a game-high 16 points and 10 rebounds against UT-Martin. Vanderbilt can become the 48th Division I school in NCAA history to achieve 1,300 all-time wins (minimum 25 years in Division I) with a victory against IUPUI, Wednesday, Dec. 3. The Commodores would become the fifth SEC school to reach the 1,300-win milestone.


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