SEC basketball notes

This season, four SEC teams are currently ranked in the AP poll with Kentucky leading the way at No. 8 followed by Florida (14), Vanderbilt (22) and Mississippi State (24). In the USA Today/ESPN poll, three SEC teams are currently ranked with Kentucky (6), Florida (12) and Vanderbilt (24).

Upcoming SEC Schedule

January 2 (Friday)
Appalachian State at South Carolina 7:30 ET
New Orleans at Auburn 7:00 CT

January 3 (Saturday)
North Carolina at Kentucky [CBS] 12:00 ET
Florida State at Florida [SUN] 1:00 ET
North Texas at Arkansas [ARSN] 12:30 CT
Georgia Tech at Georgia [FoxSN/SUN] 3:00 ET
Alabama at Xavier [ESPN] 2:30 CT
Tennessee at Massachusetts [ESPN] 5:30 ET
East Carolina at Ole Miss 7:00 CT
Mississippi State at Arkansas-Little Rock 7:00 CT
23-LSU at Centenary 7:00 CT
Vanderbilt at Texas Christian 7:05 CT

January 6 (Tuesday)
LSU at Arkansas [ESPN] 8:05 CT

January 7 (Wednesday)
Florida at South Carolina [SUN#] 7:30 ET
Auburn at Vanderbilt [JP] 7:00 CT

January 10 (Saturday)
Tennessee at Florida [JP] 1:00 ET
Alabama at LSU [JP] 2:00 CT
South Carolina at Georgia [FoxSN/SUN] 5:00 ET
Vanderbilt at Kentucky [FoxSN/SUN] 7:00 ET

Still no respect for Tide in Poll

December 29, Associated Press polling

1. Connecticut (37) 9-1
2. Duke (5) 8-1
3. Ga. Tech (21) 11-0
4. Arizona (4) 7-1
5. Stanford (3) 9-0
6. Wake Forest (1) 7-0
7. Oklahoma 8-0
8. Kentucky 7-1
9. North Carolina 7-1
10. Saint Joseph's 9-0
11. Louisville 7-1
12. Cincinnati 8-0
13. Kansas 6-2
14. Florida 8-2
15. Pittsburgh 12-0
16. Gonzaga 8-2
17. Syracuse 7-1
18. Wisconsin 8-1
19. Texas 5-2
20. Illinois 7-2
21. Purdue 9-2
22. Vanderbilt 9-0
23. Missouri 4-3
24. Mississippi St. 10-0
25. Marquette 8-2

Other SEC teams receiving votes: LSU 27 and South Carolina 9

SEC Team-by-Team Notebook

Alabama's final week of non-conference play found it hosting top-20 ranked Wisconsin on Tuesday, December 29th, which it won 71-56. The Tide then travels to Xavier, a team that received national rankings votes the first three weeks of the season, on Saturday, January 3 at 2:30 p.m. CT. Bama started the week with a five-game win streak, including its 101-44 win at home against Mercer which set a Coleman Coliseum record for largest margin of victory-57 points-for the 36-year old facility. Bama's players went straight from practice on the afternoon of December 26th to the Tuscaloosa Salvation Army facility to serve dinner to members of the community who depend on the Salvation Army for shelter and meals. Kennedy Winston goes into the Wisconsin game with eight straight double-digit scoring games. After opening the season with only 3 points against top 25 ranked Pittsburgh, Winston has responded by averaging 17.8 in his last eight games. The Prichard native, last week's SEC Player of the Week, has played in a total of 26 career games and has now scored in double digits in 18 of those games.

Sophomore Jonathon Modica was held to four points in Monday's game against Western Carolina and failed to lead the team in scoring for the first time this year. His streak of eight straight games as the team's leading scorer ties Joe Kleine (1985) and Marvin Delph (1977) for the second-longest streaks at UA since 1976. Todd Day led the team in scoring in nine straight games in 1991. Arkansas lost its final game of the fall semester on Monday, 62-59 in overtime to Western Carolina. The Razorbacks have dropped their last game before the Christmas break four of the last five years. In the loss to WCU, freshman Ronnie Brewer recorded the first double-double of his career with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore Rashard Sullivan is averaging 7.0 rebounds a game over the last three contests. Arkansas (6-3) had its best rebounding game of the year, setting season highs with 23 offensive boards, 28 defensive boards and 51 total rebounds for a 13-rebound advantage, and UA forced 20 turnovers, but the Razorbacks also lost the ball 20 times. Arkansas is off until Dec. 30 when the Razorbacks travel to Tulsa for a 7:05 p.m.

Auburn has won all but one game for a 12-1 series lead over Southern Miss. Auburn has won 10-straight games vs. Southern Miss dating back to an 84-73 loss in the 1989 Blue Angels Classic in Pensacola, Fla. The Tigers are a perfect 9-0 in Auburn and 8-0 in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. This marks the seventh-consecutive season and the 10th out of the last 11 that Auburn and Southern Miss have played against each other. The Tigers have won all 10 during this span. The only season during this stretch the teams did not play was in 1991-92. After playing two games in three days from the Pacific time zone to Central, Auburn had an eight-day layoff before playing host to Southern Miss Dec. 30. The Tigers lost at UNLV, 82-69, Dec. 20 and lost to Georgia State, 77-72, Dec. 22. It marks the Tigers' second-longest layoff this season. Auburn is on a two-game non-conference losing streak for the first time since the 2001-02 season when the Tigers lost to Louisiana Tech 67-66 Dec. 4 and then to No. 7 Virginia 77-72 Dec. 8 in the Arby's Hardwood Classic in Birmingham. Auburn will close out its non-conference schedule by playing two games in four days against Southern Miss Dec. 30 and New Orleans Jan. 4. The Tigers will then open SEC play at Vanderbilt Jan. 7. It marks the Tigers' first road SEC opener in seven years when Auburn opened at South Carolina in 1996-97.

Florida improved to 8-2 on the season with a 109-63 victory over Eastern Kentucky. Anthony Roberson scored 20 of his game-high 22 points in the first half when the Gators seized control by taking a 65-35 lead into the locker room. After committing seven turnovers to just five assists over the first 7:25 of regulation, Florida committed just one turnover and posted 11 assists over the final 12:35 of the first half. Roberson hit on 8-of-11 shots on the night, as the Gators cononected on 64.6 percent from the floor, the second highest ever by a Billy Donovan-coached team and the second best showing ever in the O'Connell Center. Christian Drejer had 17 points, Matt Walsh 15, Bonell Colas 12 and Lee Humphrey 11, as the Gators had five in double figures. David Lee was 4-of-4 from the field and has now connected on 17 consecutive shots over the last 94:04 of the Gators' last three games. Florida went over 100 points for the fourth time in six home games. The Gators dished out 27 assists led by Roberson with six and Lee with five. Florida returns to action on Jan. 3 against Florida State.

Georgia grabbed an early Christmas present in their last game before the holiday with an easy 79-59 defeat of Charleston Southern (2-7) on Monday night at Stegeman Coliseum. The Bulldogs (7-2) scored just 29 points in the first half and led by only 8 at the break, but they took control of the game midway through the second half after senior Damien Wilkins hit two free throws to give the team an 11-point lead. They never looked back. When the final buzzer sounded, Georgia had five players scoring in double figures. Senior Jonas Hayes led the team with 17 points, 13 of which came in the second half. Seniors Rashad Wright and Damien Wilkins each added 14 points, combining for 13-of-15 from the free throw line. Senior Chris Daniels had 10 points and a team-high 13 rebounds to tally his sixth double-double of the season and freshman Buzz Wehunt scored a career-high 11 points, including 2-of-4 three pointers. In the first half Georgia trailed by five points with just over four minutes elapsed, but the Bulldogs then went on a 10-0 run to mount their own five point lead midway through the half. Georgia's schedule will now toughen as they travel to face No. 18 Pittsburg on Dec. 30 at 7 pm before returning home to tip off with No. 5 Georgia Tech at 3 pm on Jan. 3.

Louisville snapped UK's 27-game regular-season winning streak and 14-game home winning streak with a 65-56 win Saturday at Rupp Arena. The Wildcats have still won 33 of their last 35 overall. Cats play a 'home' game in Louisville's Freedom Hall Wednesday against Austin Peay. UK is 50-16 all-time at Freedom Hall and 113-30 all-time in the Derby City. Kentucky, which has won 17 of its last 20 at Freedom Hall, has played in Louisville every year since 1958. The Cats host North Carolina Saturday at Rupp Arena in the final game of a four-year contract between the schools. Despite trailing the all-time series, 9-16, UK has won the three most recent Wildcat-Tar Heel contests, including a 98-81 victory last season in Chapel Hill. This will mark only the second time UNC has played in Rupp Arena. The Cats downed the Tar Heels 79-59 in their previous visit to Rupp. After this week, UK has only one more non-conference game on the schedule, a Jan. 25th road game against Notre Dame. Despite eight-straight seasons of leading the nation in attendance, the Cats play a league-low 13 games on their home court this season. UK is 73-10 (.880) at Rupp Arena under seventh-year head coach Tubby Smith. Smith, who needs just five more wins to reach 300 for his career.

The Tigers go to Houston, Tuesday with an 8-0 record after a 78-62 win over UAB in the second half of the Nokia Sugar Bowl Classic Saturday in New Orleans. In the five years that two SEC teams have played various conference teams in the event, the SEC is now 9-1. LSU is 4-1. In the UAB win, Jaime Lloreda and Brandon Bass both had 22 points. Lloreda had 11 rebounds and Bass 10 boards. The Tigers are 8-0 for the fiirst time since the 1999-2000 season when LSU opened with 13 straight wins . That year it took LSU getting 12 wins to get ranked in the AP poll . LSU and Houston meet for the sixth time in the seven years of John Brady's tenure with Houston holding an overall 6-5 lead in the series, but Brady's teams have won four of five including the last three straight. The game is Tuesday night in Hofheinz Pavilion, LSU's first game on an opponent's home court. The Tigers also this week play Centenary of Shreveport, La., in Bossier City's Century Tel Center. LSU leads the series 6-1. This will be LSU's first appearance in the Shreveport-Bossier City area since Dec. 21, 1999 when LSU hosted Centenary in Shreveport's Hirsch Coliseum.

Ole Miss continues a six-game homestand Tuesday against Alabama State and Saturday against East Carolina. The Rebels ride in on a four-game win streak, including a 79-46 beating of Nicholls State on Sunday. It marked Ole Miss' largest margin of victory this season, and was due in part to the effort of junior forward Tommie Eddie. The transfer from Coffeyville Community College in Kansas turned in his finest game as a Rebel, recording team highs and career bests in points with 22 and rebounds with 10. During the the current four-game streak, Eddie is averaging just under 13 points and six boards per game. Senior forward Aaron Harper posted 19 points vs. NSU and is averaging over 17 in the four straight victories. Despite battling a virus, Justin Reed tallied eight points against Nicholls State Sunday to pass Eric Laird (1982-85) for 10th and tie Ansu Sesay (1995-98) for ninth on the Ole Miss career scoring chart with 1,428 points. With just 28 more rebounds, Justin Reed would become only the fifth Rebel to rank top 10 in both career points and rebounds. Reed scored 21 points and Mississippi pulled away in the final five minutes last Monday for a 64-56 victory over Jacksonville State. The senior forward had scored only 11 points in his previous two contests.

One of three undefeated teams remaining in the SEC, the 10-0 Bulldogs will look to cap a perfect non-conference, regular-season slate by traveling to Arkansas-Little Rock for a Saturday night contest against the UALR Trojans. MSU's Saturday road contest against Arkansas-Little Rock marks the team's fourth outing of the season against a member of the Sun Belt Conference. State has already knocked off Sun Belt foes New Orleans (77-59), Western Kentucky (81-75) and South Alabama (71-62) this season. This weekend, MSU will also bid to match the all-time school standard for consecutive wins to open a season (11) originally established by the 1957-58 State squad and equalled by Rick Stansbury's 2001-02 Bulldog club. The Bulldogs head to Little Rock looking to post their 11th consecutive non-SEC win on the opposition's home floor. Timmy Bowers went over the 1,000-point mark for career scoring (1,010) in last Saturday's win over Tulane. Through 10 games this season, Bowers and Lawrence Roberts share MSU's team scoring lead with exactly 159 points apiece. The Bulldogs have implemented the same starting lineup during each of their 10 games on the year.

South Carolina took advantage of a slow start by South Carolina State to coast to a 86-50 victory over the Bulldogs Monday night. The Gamecocks (11-1) got a career-high 21 points from guard Michael Boynton to improve their all-time record against the Bulldogs to 12-0. South Carolina led by 16 points at the half and started the second half with a 13-0 run to take command of the game. South Carolina State shot 24.2 percent from the field in the first half, including 0-for-11 from 3-point range to trail 34-18 at the break. It marked the sixth time in 12 games the Gamecocks have held a team to 20 points or less in a half. The Bulldogs missed their first nine shots and made just three of their first 25 while South Carolina was building a 20-point lead in the first half. Although South Carolina State's missed its first nine shots over the opening four and a half minutes, the Bulldogs were able to tie the game 2-2 with their first basket, thanks to a slow start by the Gamecocks. The Bulldogs also hurt themselves with turnovers in the first half, committing nine. South Carolina had a 17-2 scoring advantage in points off turnovers.

The Vols will return from an eight-day holiday break to host the UNC Asheville Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 30, at Thompson-Boling Arena. At 6-1 on the season, the Vols are off to their best start since beginning the 2000-01 season with nine consecutive wins. UT extended its current winning streak to three games with a 79-61 win over Tennessee Tech Dec. 22. Playing without the services of leading scorer Scooter McFadgon who was out with a shoulder injury, the Vols were led by Brandon Crump's 20 points while John Winchester chipped in a career-high 13 points. Crump has scored 20 or more points in three of Tennessee's last four games. Tennessee has shot 76 free throws over the last three games while its opponents have attempted just 24. All of Tennessee's games have been decided by more than 10 points this season. The Vols' closest game to date was an 81-70 win over Wofford in the season opener. With seven assists against Tennessee Tech, C.J. Watson recorded his 200th career assist. Over the last three games the Vols have opened the second half by outscoring their opponents 48-10 before the first media timeout. The Vols have outshot their opponents at the free throw line 199-95 in the first seven games.

Mario Moore scored a game-high 19 points to lead Vanderbilt to a 63-48 win against visiting Appalachian State, Monday, Dec. 22, at Memorial Gym. Julian Terrell recorded a career-high six blocks against the Mountaineers. The victory moved Vanderbilt's record to 9-0, the school's best start since the 1965-66 squad began the season with nine wins. The 2003-04 Commodores are only the fifth team in school history to start a season at 9-0. Vanderbilt climbed into the Associated Press Top 25 Poll at No. 25 this week for the first time since the Commodores earned a No. 24 ranking on Feb. 21, 2000. The Vanderbilt bench has outscored the opposition's reserves by a score of 294-148 this season. Matt Freije moved into sixth place on VU's all-time blocked shots chart with 57 when he recorded a block against Appalachian State on Monday. Matt Freije scored a game-high 24 points while Dawid Przybyszewski had 14 points and six rebounds and Jason Holwerda added 10 points and seven assists as Vanderbilt defeated Wofford, 90-59, Saturday, Dec. 20. The Commodores have outscored the opposition by an average of 20.7 points per contest.

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