SEC basketball notes

With a 55-7 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 1-3 so far this season against national ranked non-conference opponents. SEC teams own a perfect 45-0 record when leading at the half.

More SEC Notes

  • Southeastern Conference teams have a 37-3 (.925) record when out-rebounding their opponents.
  • Southeastern Conference teams have a 36-1 (.973) record when shooting 45 percent or better from the field.
  • Southeastern Conference teams have a 43-2 record at home this season.
  • The SEC leads the nation with 55 NCAA Division I non-conference wins, as of December 8.
  • The Southeastern Conference also ranks first in non-conference winning percentage.
  • Mississippi State's Lawrence Roberts leads the conference with four double-doubles this season.

SEC in the Polls (as of Dec. 8)

This season, only two SEC teams are currently ranked in the AP poll with top-ranked Florida leading the way followed by Kentucky (8). In the USA Today/ESPN poll, Florida is also atop the poll with Kentucky at No. 2.

Florida recently lost at home to Maryland, so that ranking will certainly change this week.

SEC Player of the Week: Earnest Shelton, Alabama

Guard * 6-3 * 200 * Jr. * Memphis, Tennessee
  • Shelton's play led Alabama in two wins against hot-streaking Charlotte which had knocked off the defending national champions, Syracuse, at Syracuse, the week before, and against Austin Peay, the defending OVC Champions.
  • It was the third time in Alabama's six games (three times in the last four games) that Shelton has scored 20 or more points as he had 28 against Southeastern Louisiana on November 25th.
  • This marks the first Player of the Week honor for Alabama's Earnest Shelton.
  • Shelton is the first Alabama Crimson Tide player to win SEC Player of the Week honors since Kenny Walker earned the award on December 30, 2002.
  • This also marks the 10th time an Alabama player has received this honor since the 1994-95 season.

SEC Team-by-Team Notebook

It's finals week on campus at the University of Alabama, and Mark Gottfried's players---who have collected 15 Academic All-SEC awards since Gottfried's first season in 1999---will spend the week studying and taking exams peppered in with practice. Gottfried is trying a new twist in his schedule this week. Alabama will not play any "regular season" games this week but on Saturday, December 13th, the Tide plays an exhibition game against Athletes in Action. The idea is to give the players competition but, since it won't count toward the record, facing finals and a big game all in the same week won't be a factor. Bama's next regular season game will be on Tuesday, December 16 when it hosts Chattanooga. The Tide is 4-2 going into the break.

Sophomore Jonathon Modica has led the Razorbacks in scoring and freshman Ronnie Brewer has led the team in assists in all five games this year. Modica had a game-high 20 points at No. 11 Illinois on Saturday, his third 20-point game of the year. Modica is shooting 64.4 percent from the field this year and Brewer is at 60.9. Modica is averaging 21.2 points and Brewer is second on the team as 12.6. Freshman forward/center Vincent Hunter suffered a dislocated right shoulder less than a minute into the second half against Illinois and is doubtful for Tuesday's home game against Southeast Missouri State. Hunter had two points and six rebounds when he left the game. Arkansas is 4-1. At this point last year, the Razorbacks were 1-4. The Jacksonville 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. The 89 points scored are the most for the Hogs since the 109-94 loss at Alabama on Jan. 30, 2002.

Wednesday's game against Montana will be the last game before exams and after this title the team has a 10-day layoff prior to the UNLV game on December 20. This marks the first time Cliff Ellis has coached against Montana in his 29 years of Division I coaching. Auburn coach Cliff Ellis and Montana's Pat Kennedy are longtime friends and former ACC rivals. Ellis spent 10 years at Clemson from 1984-85 to 1993-94 while Kennedy was at Florida State for 11 years from 1986-87 to 1886-97. Ellis is 2-5 against Kennedy with all seven games coming after the Seminoles joined the ACC in 1991-92. This is the first meeting between Auburn and Montana. The Montana game is the third of four-straight games for Auburn against teams from the western United States. The Tigers defeated defending Mountain West Conference Tournament Champion Colorado State 84-54 Dec. 1 and Air Force Dec. 7, 68-49. The Tigers play host to Montana, the preseason pick to win the Big Sky Conference on Wednesday and will then play their third Mountain West Conference game at UNLV in the Las Vegas Showdown on ESPN Dec. 20. Auburn head coach Cliff Ellis is tied with former St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca for 31st on the all-time coaching victory list at Division I institutions. Montana will travel 1790 miles to take-on Auburn, which ranks second on the opponent who has traveled the furthest to play in the Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum list. Auburn is off to its best start at 6-0 for the first time in five years, dating back to the 1998-99 SEC Championship season when Auburn reeled off 17-straight wins.

Second-ranked Florida improved to 5-0 for the first time since the 1998-99 season on Saturday, defeating Stetson 74-61. It was the Gators' 40th consecutive non-conference win at home and their 22nd straight win against a team from the state of Florida. Anthony Roberson had 18 points while David Lee finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. Florida out-rebounded Stetson 44-31 and had more defensive rebounds (32) than Stetson had total. Florida led by as much as 25 points before Stetson chipped away against the Gator reserves in the final minutes. The win capped a stretch of three Gator victories in just five days. Florida is hitting .510 from the floor as a team and has out-rebounded four of its first five opponents, averaging 46.6 rebounds per game. Florida is holding its opponents to just .346 from the floor. Florida earned a 59-39 victory over UCF in the first game in the new Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on last Thursday night. Matt Walsh led UF with 19 points. Anthony Roberson scored a season-high 20 points while Adrian Moss totaled 16 points and 11 rebounds as Florida beat Florida A&M 102-78, last Tuesday.

Georgia enters this week at 4-1 and plays a pair of South Carolina schools: Winthrop at home on Tuesday and backyard rival Clemson at Philips Arena in Atlanta on Saturday. The Clemson game is the 2nd half of the annual Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Classic for Kids. Georgia Tech plays host to St. Louis in the first game. Guard Levi Stukes is gradually becoming the best, most productive member of Georgia's freshman class. The native of Maryland has started all five games and, most recently, scored a season-high 16 points that included four-of-six from 3-point range. Chris Daniels has double-doubles in three of five games thus far this season. Jonas Hayes scored 18 points against Florida A&M, sinking all eight of his field-goal attempts and both of his free throws. Georgia has made more free throws (103) than all five of its opponents have combined to attempt (91). Jonas Hayes scored 18 points, hitting every shot he took, as he led Georgia to a 77-59 victory over winless Florida A&M last Friday night. Rashad Wright scored 17 for Georgia (4-1), including 15 in the first half. Freshman Levi Stukes scored a career-high 16 before fouling out. Chris Daniels added 12 points and 12 rebounds. Georgia bounced back from an overtime loss at Gonzaga, building a 20-point lead at halftime and cruising to an 81-51 victory over Towson on last Tuesday night.

The Cats have now won 24-consecutive regular-season contests and 13-straight home games. The 4-0 Wildcats are off to their best start since 1998-99 season. UK hasn't started 5-0 since the 1992-93 Final Four club opened 11-0. Kentucky has appeared in 47 consecutive AP polls, the fourth-longest current streak in the nation. The last time UK wasn't ranked was Feb. 6, 2001. Senior guard Gerald Fitch (19.3 ppg) needs just two points to become the 50th member of UK's 1,000-point club. Senior point guard Cliff Hawkins has moved into 10th-place on UK's career assist list with 331. Kentucky improved to 6-3 all-time against UCLA with a 52-50 win over the Bruins in a matchup of the two programs with the most national titles (UCLA 11, UK 7). UK shot just 27.1 percent (16-of-59) from the field against UCLA, the Wildcats' lowest shooting percentage since a 24.5 (13-of-53) percent effort in losing to Georgetown in the 1984 Final Four. Kentucky's next four Saturdays feature a who's who of college basketball, with games against Michigan State, Indiana, Louisville and North Carolina. All four games will be televised by CBS.

Tigers end up with three wins 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 dropped a pair of televised games last week against Florida State, in the first Rebel road game of the year, and at home for Memphis. Senior forward Justin Reed led the Rebels in points and rebounds in both games and has done so in all five contests this season. Reed posted his fourth 20-point outing of the year and 15th of his career against Memphis with 26. His 18-point performance at Florida State snapped a streak of five straight 20-point games, dating back to last season. No Rebel had managed such a stretch since Keith Carter in 1998-99. Ole Miss knocked down 8-of-16 second-half three-pointers vs. FSU in trimming an 18-point deficit to four. Freshman guard Todd Abernethy nailed 3-of-4 threes against the Seminoles in tallying a season-high 11 points and four assists. Junior forward Kendrick Fox posted a career-high 13 points and tied his career-best with five boards in the Memphis game. Ole Miss enjoys an 11-day layoff before facing its second road game of the young campaign, Dec. 17 at Evansville.

After winning four games over an eight-day stretch, the 6-0 Bulldogs will take this work week off from competition for final exams. MSU will play host to Xavier this Saturday night to conclude a four-game homestand. A year ago in the team's first-ever appearance in New York's Madison Square Garden, No. 22 MSU claimed a 71-61 victory over 11th-ranked Xavier... The two teams are slated to meet again on the hardwood next season in Cincinnati. The Bulldogs are off to their third 6-0 start or better during the six seasons of the Rick Stansbury era. The 2001-02 State squad tied a school mark with an 11-0 start, while Stansbury's first MSU club raced to an 8-0 start in 1998-99. Now 33-7 in games played in the month of December during the Rick Stansbury era, MSU has prevailed in 12 straight December contests dating back to the 2001-02 campaign. Just a collective one point and two rebounds shy of having recorded a double-double in each of MSU's six games this season, Lawrence Roberts has posted a league-high four double-doubles on the year and enters the week needing just 15 points to reach the 1,000-point mark for his career. Having averaged 19.8 points per contest over his last four outings, Winsome Frazier has taken over the team's scoring lead for the year at 16.7 points per game. Timmy Bowers needs 52 more points to become the 26th member of State's 1,000-point club.

Carlos Powell scored a career-high 23 points in the Gamecock's 76-61 win at Clemson. Powell totaled a season-high six steals in the victory. It was the second road win this year - after winning just one road game last season. USC is off to an 8-0 start - it's best start since 1971. Stepping in for Kerbrell Brown, freshman Brandon Wallace picked up the first double-double of his career with 10 points and 11 rebounds. The 6'9 forward also blocked three shots. Wallace has collected 23 rebounds in the last three games. Wednesday night against the Gamecocks, The Citadel only mustered 38 points, scoring 18 points in the first half. It was the least amount of points for an opponent since Maryland defeated USC 31-30 in 1971. The last time USC started a season 7-0: 1971-72 under Coach Frank McGuire. The Gamecocks finished the season at 24-5 and advanced to the NCAA East Regional. The best start ever was in 1933-34 when USC went 18-1. That team won its first 17 games of the year. Their only loss was to N.C. State in the second to last game of the year at the Southern Conference Tournament (24-43).

Tennessee will be coming off an 11-day break for final exams when the Vols play at Nebraska on Saturday, Dec. 13. The Vols are coming off a 108-84 win over Texas A&M on Dec. 2. Scooter McFadgon led UT with 23 points while Brandon Crump added 18. C.J. Watson narrowly missed a career-high with 16 points while adding six assists without a turnover. The Vols did not commit a turnover during the final 18 minutes of the game. UT's 3-0 start is its best since beginning the 2000-01 season with nine consecutive wins. McFadgon leads Tennessee with 22.0 points per game on 55.6 percent shooting from the field. Crump is almost averaging a double-double with 14.0 points and 9.7 rebounds. Watson is averaging 12.3 points and 7.3 assists per game. The Vols have outshot their opponents at the free throw line 99-37 in the first three games. UT has made almost double (69) the number of free throws its opponents have attempted. UT is shooting 59.7 percent (46-of-77) from the field in the second half this season. Tennessee is averaging 90.0 points per game through its first three games. That is the highest average through three games since 1988-89 when the Vols averaged 97.6 points.

Vanderbilt can record its 600th win all-time in Memorial Gymnasium, Wednesday, Dec. 10, when Tennessee State visits. The Commodores own a 599- 171 (.778) record in the SEC's most historic arena now in its 52nd year. Matt Freije recorded the 70th double figures game of his career (92 games) when he posted a game-high 22 points in VU's 83-63 win against Michigan. It also marked the 26th time the senior forward netted 20 or more points in a contest. Senior guard Scott Hundley shot 76.5 percent from the field (13-of-17) last week, posting 18 points against IUPUI and 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds versus Michigan. Mario Moore tied a career-high with six three-pointers and came within a point of his career high when he totaled 24 points against IUPUI. Russell Lakey has made 25 consecutive free throws dating back to last season's Tennessee game (3/8/03). He has made all 17 free throw attempts this season. Vanderbilt is outrebounding its opponents by 12.4 rebounds per contest. The Commodores outrebounded Michigan 42-24. Through five games, VU has made more free throws (91) than the opponent has attempted (87). Vanderbilt hosts Tennessee State (12/10) and Tennessee Tech (12/13) this week.

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