SEC basketball notebook

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.

A look at SEC teams in the AP top 20 shows the league's diversity since the 1998 season. Every team has been in the top 20.

Alabama 10 weeks: 2002-03
Arkansas 1 week: 2000-01
Auburn 17 weeks: 1999-00
Florida 5 weeks: 2003-04
Georgia 8 weeks: 2002-03
Kentucky 5 weeks: 2003-04
LSU 9 weeks: 1999-00
Ole Miss 7 weeks: 2000-01
Mississippi State 10 weeks: 2002-03
South Carolina Entire season: 1997-98
Tennessee 14 weeks: 2000-01
Vanderbilt 6 weeks: 1999-00

General Conference Notes

  • With a 62-11 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 2-4 against national ranked non-conference opponents.
  • SEC teams own a perfect 50-0 record when leading at the half.
  • Southeastern Conference teams have a 43-5 (.896) record when out-rebounding their opponents.
  • Southeastern Conference teams have a 41-2 (.953) record when shooting 45 percent or better from the field.
  • Southeastern Conference teams have a 48-4 (.923) record at home this season.
  • The SEC ranks second in the nation with a 62-11 record versus NCAA Division I opponents, as of December 15. The Southeastern Conference also ranks second in non-conference wins.
  • Mississippi State's Lawrence Roberts leads the conference with five double-doubles this season.

SEC in the Associated Press Poll (December 15)

1. Connecticut (21) 7-1
2. Kentucky (26) 5-0
3. Duke (1) 6-1
4. North Carolina (6) 6-0
5. Georgia Tech (14) 8-0
6. Kansas 5-1
7. Arizona (2) 4-1
8. Oklahoma 7-0
9. Stanford (2) 5-0
10. Missouri 3-1
11. Saint Joseph's 7-0
11. Texas 5-1
13. Gonzaga 7-1
14. Wake Forest 5-0
15. Florida 5-2
16. Cincinnati 4-0
17. Purdue 7-1
18. Pittsburgh 7-0
19. Syracuse 3-1
20. Louisville 4-1
21. Illinois 6-2
22. Wisconsin 6-1
23. Marquette 6-1
24. Dayton 8-0
25. Maryland 6-2

Other SEC teams receiving votes: Vanderbilt 80, Mississippi St. 31, Auburn 23, South Carolina 10

Upcoming SEC Schedule

December 18 (Thursday)
South Alabama at Georgia [CSS] 7:00 ET

December 20 (Saturday)
Oklahoma State at Arkansas [ARSN] 4:05 CT
Kentucky vs. Indiana [CBS] Noon ET
N.C. State at South Carolina [FoxSN/SUN] 2:00 ET
Georgia State at Tennessee [CSS] 2:00 ET
Louisiana-Monroe at Ole Miss 2:00 CT
Southern Miss at LSU [CST] 3:00 CT
Florida vs. West Virginia [SUN] 8:00 ET
Wofford at Vanderbilt 7:00 CT
Alabama vs. Oregon [ESPN2] 9:00 CT
Mississippi State at Santa Clara 7:00 PT
Auburn vs. UNLV [ESPN] 11:30 CT

Last Week's Results

Winthrop 80, at Georgia 60
Arkansas 78, SE Missouri State 68
Maryland 69, at Florida 68 (ot)
Auburn 71, Montana 53
Vanderbilt 85, Tennessee State 64
Louisville 73, Florida 65
Georgia 61, Clemson 56
Nebraska 77, Tennessee 62
Kentucky 79, Michigan State 74
Ath. in Action 77, at Alabama 72 (exhibition)
Mississippi State 82, Xavier 70
Vanderbilt 98, Tennessee Tech 79

Team-by-Team Notebook

Finals exams are over and the campus is empty of students, but the Crimson Tide's players remain behind to practice and play two games this week. Alabama returns to regular season action on Tuesday, December 16 when it hosts Chattanooga. Alabama hasn't played a regular season game since its December 6 home win against Austin Peay. It played an exhibition game against Athletes in Action on last Saturday. Alabama caps the week at the Las Vegas Showdown where Alabama and Auburn will play in a double-header on Saturday, December 20. In a game televised on ESPN2, Alabama plays Oregon at 9 p.m. CT. Earnest Shelton continues to shine as the Tide's scoring leader who is playing his best ball. The junior from Memphis is averaging 16.8 points going into the week and has scored 22 or more points in three of Alabama's six games this season. Shelton, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds in Bama's exhibition game against AIA this past Saturday night, has scored 20 or more in three of his last four official games with 28 against Southeastern Louisiana, 22 against Charlotte and 23 against Austin Peay.

Jonathon Modica has led the Razorbacks in scoring in all six games this year. In Tuesday's win over Southeast Missouri State, he had 20 points, his fourth 20-point game of the year, and had a season-high eight rebounds. Freshman Ronnie Brewer was six of eight from the field and had 14 points, improving his scoring average to 12.8 points a game and his field goal percentage to a team-best .630 (34-54). Arkansas' 5-1 start is its best since beginning the 2001 season 6-1. The Razorbacks have held four of six opponents to less than 70 points. Arkansas is 5-1. At this point last year, the Razorbacks were 2-4. 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. Arkansas next hosts Louisiana Tech, December 17 after a seven-day layoff.

Auburn has a 10-day layoff between games for final exams. The Tigers' defeated Montana 73-51 Dec. 10 and play at UNLV in the Las Vegas Showdown Dec. 20. It is the Tigers' longest layoff this season. This will be the second time Auburn coach Cliff Ellis has faced UNLV. Ellis is 0-1 coaching against the Runnin' Rebels, losing 122-82 in Las Vegas in his inaugural DI coaching season at South Alabama in 1975-76. UNLV holds a 2-1 series lead against Auburn, including three consecutive wins. Auburn is making its second appearance in the Las Vegas Showdown. The Tigers erased a 14-point second-half deficit to defeat previously unbeaten Oregon in overtime in 2000. Auburn 6-9, 275 lb, freshman center Dwayne Curtis is now eligible to play for the Tigers. The Chicago native did not qualify out of Whitney Young HS, but attended Auburn as a part-time student in the fall semester. Curtis averaged a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds as a senior last year. Cliff Ellis just passed former St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca for 27th on the all-time coaching victory list at Division I institutions. Auburn is off to its best start at 7-0 for the first time in five years, dating back to the 1998-99 SEC Championship season when Auburn reeled off 17-straight wins. Auburn is shooting an impressive 46 percent (33-of-71) from 3-point range since a 1-of-14 effort in the Tigers' season opener.

The University of Florida fell to Louisville, 73-65, before a capacity crowd of 20,032 at Freedom Hall Saturday. David Lee scored a career-high 24 points and matched his career best with 12 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. The Gators rallied from 15 points down to cut the lead to five, but were unable to get any closer. The Gators held Louisville to just 38.8 percent from the floor, the sixth time in seven games they've held their opponent under 40 percent. Florida pulled down 47 rebounds and has pulled down 40+ rebounds in all seven games. The Gators have the week off before returning to action against West Virginia at the Orange Bowl Classic in Miami on Dec. 20. The University of Florida fell just short of its comeback bid, rallying from a 17-point deficit to force overtime, before falling to Maryland 69-68. The loss snapped a 40-game non-conference home winning streak for the Gators dating back to 1998. Florida shot a season-low 31.7 percent from the floor and trailed by 17 with 15:17 remaining in regulation before outscoring the Terps 26-9 over the remainder of regulation.

Georgia will finish up Fall Semester final exams Monday and Tuesday before playing its only game of the week Thursday at home against Charleston Southern. Further evidence of Rashad Wright's changing role on this year's team: the Bulldogs' top playmaker - perhaps of all time - has led the SEC in assist/turnover ratio two years running. Currently, though, he doesn't rank among the league's top 10 in that category. He does, however, lead the SEC in 3-pointers made per game and ranks among its leaders in 3-point percentage. Chris Daniels already has twice as many double-doubles (4) as he had during the entire 2003 season. Freshman forward Steve Newman has put together his two most productive games to date, scoring 10 and 12 in the Winthrop and Clemson games, respectively. Wright needs 39 assists to become Georgia's all-time leader in that category. The Bulldogs suffered an 80-60 loss to the Winthrop Eagles on last Tuesday night at Stegeman Coliseum. Winthrop gave up just seven turnovers and held Georgia to a season low 60 points. Senior guard Rashad Wright led Georgia with 15 points, hitting 4-of-6 three pointers. The Bulldogs trailed virtually the entire night, with their only lead of the game coming within the game's first minute.

Kentucky and Michigan State played in front of a world record crowd of 78,129 at Detroit's Ford Field. The previous record crowd for a basketball game was 75,000 for the Harlem Globetrotters at Berlin's Olympic Stadium in 1951. The prior NCAA record was 68,112 for an LSU-Notre Dame game in the Superdome in 1990. The Cats have now won 25-consecutive regular-season contests and 13-straight home games. The 5-0 Wildcats are off to their best start since the 1992-93 Final Four club opened 11-0. Kentucky has appeared in 48 consecutive AP polls, the fourth-longest current streak in the nation. The last time UK wasn't ranked was Feb. 6, 2001. After shooting just 27.1 percent in the win over UCLA, UK responded with a 60.4 percent effort against Michigan State. The Cats hit 20-of-30 shots in the first half (66.7%). Junior Chuck Hayes recorded his eighth career double-double (second of the season) with a 17-point, 12-rebound effort versus Michigan State. Hayes tied his career high in points and had four assists, two blocks, two steals and no turnovers against the Spartans. He has grabbed at least 12 rebounds in each of the Cats' last four games. Kentucky's next three Saturdays feature games against Indiana, Louisville and North Carolina on 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 per-cent 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. The Tigers end an 18-day layoff Tuesday when they host 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 and final exams.

The Rebels end an 11-day layoff Wednesday when they travel to Evansville for their second road game of the young campaign. 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. In the second half of its last two games, Ole Miss has made 14-of-26 (53.8 percent) from behind the three-point arc. Also in last week's two games, the Rebels committed a total of only 16 turnovers while forcing 28.

Having completed their successful four-game homestand with Saturday's 82-70 win over Xavier, the 7-0 Bulldogs will play their next five games all away from the friendly confines of Humphrey Coliseum. MSU will play host to New Orleans Tuesday at Tupelo's BancorpSouth Center as part of a men's/women's basketball doubleheader. The Bulldogs will then head out to California to take on Santa Clara Saturday night. MSU is 3-1 all-time versus UNO, having most recently split a pair of games during the 1989-90 season. State's only other meeting against Santa Clara resulted in a 75-67 Bulldog win in the first round of the 1995 NCAA West Regional played in Boise, Idaho. The Bulldogs are off to their third start of 7-0 or better during the Stansbury era. MSU has won 13 straight December contests dating back to the 2001-02 campaign. State enters Saturday's road contest at Santa Clara having prevailed in eight consecutive games played on the home floors of non-conference opponents in a streak that dates back to 2000-01. In collecting his league-leading fifth double-double of the season with 21 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday's win over Xavier, Lawrence Roberts eclipsed the 1,000-point mark. Senior Timmy Bowers enters the week needing 33 more points to become the 26th member of MSU's all-time 1,000-point club.

Taking a week off for final exams, USC will play at Temple on Monday, Dec. 15. USC, a perfect 8-0 this season, will play the Owls as the third of three road games prior to the returning home for a six-game stand. On the road the past two games, USC defeated The Citadel 70-38 and Clemson 76-61. It will be USC's first trip to Temple since they lost to the Owls 63-50 in 1987. Dave Odom is 5-1 all-time against Temple, with the only loss coming in 1998 while at Wake Forest (a 48-59 loss in New York City in a Coaches vs. Cancer game). South Carolina's Mike Boynton, Jr. and Ivan Howell will receive their diplomas on Monday at 3:30 pm in The Colonial Center and then hop on a plane for Philadelphia - with hopes of them arriving by game-time at 7 pm. Carolina currently has an eight-game winning streak to start the 2003-04 season. The last team to ever start the season at least 8-0 was the 1970-71 team. That team ended up 24-5 and lost to Villanova in the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament. USC's 76-61 win at Clemson was the fourth straight over the Tigers. All four wins have all been double digit victories.

Tennessee will look to bounce back from a 62-77 loss at Nebraska on Dec. 13 when the Vols return to Thompson-Boling Arena to host The Citadel on Wednesday, Dec. 17, at 7:30 p.m. The Citadel game is the first game of a four-game homestand for the Vols. Scooter McFadgon leads Tennessee with 18.3 points per game and is among the national leaders with his 90.0 free throw percentage. Brandon Crump is coming off a career-high 25-point outing at Nebraska and is averaging 16.8 points and a team-high 8.8 rebounds per game. Sophomore point guard C.J. Watson is averaging 11.5 points and 6.8 assists per game. The Citadel game will be the second of four contests over a 10 day period for the Vols. Crump needs one point to reach the 600 career point milestone. The Vols have outshot their opponents at the free throw line 123-71 in the first four games. UT has made more free throws (85) than its opponents have attempted (71).

At 7-0, Vanderbilt is off to its best start since the 1999-2000 season, when Kevin Stallings' inaugural team started 9-0. It marks the seventh time in school history a Commodore squad has begun a campaign with seven consecutive victories. Vanderbilt is averaging 43.0 rebounds a game, the most since the 1972-73 team (46.6 rpg). The Commodores have outrebounded all seven of their opponents by a margin of 12.4 boards a game. The Commodores have outscored the opposition by an average of 20 points per contest. Senior forward Matt Freije came within one point of a career high when he poured in a game-high 31 points in VU's 98- 79 win against Tennessee Tech (12/13). Freije set a career high with 12 made field goals. It marked the second time this season (11/24-vs. Indiana [32 points]) and the third time of his career (1/29/03-vs. Georgia [31 points]) that Freije netted 30-plus points in a game. Sophomore forward/center Julian Terrell scored a career-high 16 points and handed out a career-best six assists against Tennessee Tech (12/13). The Commodores tied a single-game school record dishing out 29 assists against the Golden Eagles. Vanderbilt's 85-64 win against Tennessee State (12/10) marked the 600th all-time victory at Memorial Gym, the SEC's most historic arena now in its 52nd season. After a week of finals, the Commodores resume play by welcoming Wofford, Saturday, Dec. 20, for a 7 p.m. CT contest.

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