SEC basketball notebook

This season, four SEC teams are currently ranked in the AP poll with Kentucky leading the way at No. 5 followed by Florida (15), Mississippi State (20) and Vanderbilt (23). In the USA Today/ESPN poll, four SEC teams are currently ranked with Kentucky (5), Florida (10), Vanderbilt (23) and Mississippi State (24).

Most Recent RPI Ratings

Rank  Team          Rating

3.   Kentucky       .6854
6.   Florida        .6743
14.  Alabama        .6446
17.  LSU            .6408
18.  Vanderbilt     .6399
25.  Miss. State    .6306
39.  Auburn         .6032
70.  Tennessee      .5711
76.  Georgia        .5649
82.  South Carolina .5564
99.  Arkansas       .5437
101. Ole Miss       .5416

Upcoming League Schedule

January 13 (Tuesday)
*Kentucky at Mississippi State [ESPN] 8:00 CT

January 14 (Wednesday)
*Vanderbilt at Tennessee 7:30 ET
*Arkansas at Alabama [WVUA#] 7:00 CT
*South Carolina at Auburn [JP] 7:00 CT

January 17 (Saturday)
*Georgia at Kentucky [JP] 1:00 ET
*Mississippi State at LSU [JP] 2:00 CT
*Ole Miss at Arkansas 2:05 CT
*Tennessee at So. Carolina [FoxSN/SUN] 5:00 ET
*Auburn at Alabama [FoxSN/SUN] 6:00 CT
*Florida at Vanderbilt [SUN#] 7:00 CT

January 20 (Tuesday)
*Kentucky at Tennessee [ESPN2] 8:00 ET

January 21 (Wednesday)
*Mississippi State at Florida [JP] 8:00 ET

January 24 (Saturday)
*Georgia at Mississippi State [JP] 12:00 CT
*Vanderbilt at Arkansas [JP] 2:05 CT
*Auburn at Florida [CBS] 4:00 ET
*Alabama at Ole Miss [FoxSN/SUN] 5:00 CT

January 25 (Sunday)
Kentucky at Notre Dame [CBS] 4:00 ET
Louisville at Tennessee [ESPN] 7:00 ET

SEC Team-by-Team Notes

After playing its last two games on the road, the University of Alabama returns home to host two SEC games, first with Arkansas on Wednesday, January 14th and then cross-state rival Auburn on Saturday, January 17th. Alabama, hoping to snap a two-game losing streak on the road last week, will test its nine-game home win streak with the Arkansas game. The Crimson Tide is 76-9 in Coleman Coliseum under Mark Gottfried. Bama sophomore forward Kennedy Winston opened SEC play by making 7 of 10 shots from the field for an SEC field-goal-percentage leading .700% against LSU. Fans who gather in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday night will be treated to watching two of the SEC's best freshmen on the floor in Alabama's Jermareo Davidson and Arkansas' Ronnie Brewer. Davidson ranks sixth in scoring and third in rebounding among all of the league's freshmen players and Brewer ranks second in both those stats categories. LSU erased a 10-point deficit in the last five minutes to defeat Alabama 70-66 on last Saturday. Winston and Chuck Davis each scored 13 points to pace Alabama. Emmett Thomas added 11 points for the Tide.

Through Arkansas' first two SEC games, senior forward Billy Pharis is leading the team in scoring with 19.5 points a game while shooting 55.6 percent from the field. He's also tied for the team lead with 7.0 rebounds per game. Pharis, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds against LSU on Tuesday, made seven of 14 shots, including four of seven threes, and finished with 18 points in the 62-80 loss at Mississippi State. In the first half, Arkansas shot 46.2 percent while holding MSU to 44.1 percent, but in the second period, State hit 51.6 percent of its shots while Arkansas shot just 35.5 percent. Ronnie Brewer had 14 points and team highs of seven rebounds and five assists for Arkansas. Kendrick Davis hit three of six shots and three of four free throws for 10 points, and Jonathon Modica added nine points. Arkansas travels to Alabama for a 7 p.m. game on Wednesday. Last year, Rashard Sullivan finished fourth on the team with 14 blocked shots. He's already topped that total and leads the team with 20 this season. He has two or more rejections in seven straight games with a total of 16 over that stretch. Freshman Ronnie Brewer has led the club in rebounding a team-high five times this year and in assists a team-high eight times.

This is the 25th meeting between the Tigers and Gamecocks with Auburn holding a 15-9 series lead. The Tigers are 7-3 in Auburn, 5-3 in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. The Tigers, who have won six consecutive in the series, have won five of the last six in Auburn (losing 1998). Auburn has won 12 of the 14 games with South Carolina since the Gamecocks joined the SEC in 1991-92. Tenth-year Auburn head coach Cliff Ellis spent 10 seasons as head coach of Clemson, USC's biggest rival, before coming to Auburn in 1994-95. He has an 18-9 record against the Gamecocks, 9-2 against South Carolina while at Auburn and 9-7 vs. USC at Clemson. The last five Auburn-South Carolina games have been decided by a combined 23 points (4.6 ppg) with the Tigers winning all four. Point guard Lewis Monroe played 21 minutes against Ole Miss on Saturday and scored eight points while dishing out two assists. He made his only shot attempt from the field and going 6-of-8 from the foul line. Marco Killingsworth is averaging a team-high 14.5 points and 6.4 rebounds for Auburn this year. He is leading the SEC in field goal pct. for the second consecutive season, shooting 66 percent this year after making 55 percent from the field last year.

The University of Florida moved to 2-0 in SEC play after a 95-57 victory over Tennessee, the largest margin of victory by Florida in an SEC game since 1993. Four Gators scored in double figures led by Matt Walsh's 20-point effort. The Gators hit 64.8 percent from the floor for the game, the second best outing ever by a Billy Donovan-coached team. Florida shot better than 60 percent for the fourth time in eight homes games this season. Florida forced Tennessee into 20 turnovers while limiting them to just 17 field goals. David Lee added 17 points and five rebounds while Anthony Roberson had 15 and Chris Richard chipped in with a career-high 11 points. Florida won its SEC home opener for the seventh time in eight tries under Donovan. The Florida Gators won their SEC opener for the third straight year, taking a hard-fought 65-62 decision at South Carolina on last Wednesday. David Lee posted 21 points and a career-high 14 rebounds to pace the Gators. Lee also added a team-high five assists. Christian Drejer added his second double-double, scoring 16 points with a career-high 12 rebounds. Drejer hit 7-of-12 shots from the floor.

Georgia dropped its SEC home-opener to South Carolina 84-63 on Saturday evening at Stegeman Coliseum. The loss broke a three-game Bulldog (8-5, 0-2 SEC) winning streak over South Carolina (14-2, 1-1 SEC) and marked the Gamecocks' first win in Athens since February 24, 2001. Georgia's 0-2 in SEC play is its first since 1999-2000, when the Bulldogs dropped their first three league contests. Damien Wilkins played all 50 minutes in Georgia's win over Georgia Tech, the first 50-minute effort by a UGA player since the 1979 season. Freshman guard Levi Stukes is the Bulldogs' leading scorer after two SEC games, averaging 15.0 points and shooting 57 percent from 3-point range. He scored a season-high 18 points in the loss at Tennessee. Chris Daniels' rebounding average of 10.3 per game is the highest by a Georgia player in 14 years. Senior guard Rashad Wright is 19 assists away from becoming Georgia's all-time leader in that category. Georgia has gotten just 19 points from its reserves over the past four games. Damien Wilkins' current free-throw percentage of 87.7 is the highest by a Georgia in 20 years. Not since Gerald Crosby made 55 of 61 tries (90.2 percent) in the 1984 season has a Bulldog had as high a percentage.

All five UK starters are scoring in double-figures, led by Gerald Fitch's 17.6 ppg. Versatile forward Erik Daniels ranks among league leaders in scoring (14th), rebounding (9th), field goal percentage (7th) and steals (7th). He is second on the team in points, rebounds, steals, blocks and assists. Kentucky extended their conference win streak to 20 games with a 75-63 win over previously undefeated Vanderbilt. The Cats have won 18-consecutive SEC regular-season contests. UK has won 36 of its last 38 games overall and 24 of its last 26 games away from Rupp Arena. At home, the Wildcats have won 14-straight league games and are 42-5 in SEC home contests under Tubby Smith. Sophomore Kelenna Azubuike recorded his first career double-double with 16 points and career-high 11 rebounds against Vanderbilt. He is hitting over 57 percent (16-of-28) from three-point range. Point guard Cliff Hawkins ranks among Kentucky's top 10 in both career assists (9th with 364) and steals (8th with 157). Tubby Smith needs just two more victories to reach 300 for his career. He is 219-67 (.766) overall at SEC schools (UK and Georgia), the fifth-best winning percentage in league history. Smith's 95-34 (.736) league mark is the third-best in SEC history.

The Tigers play their final non-conference game of the season Monday night at the University of New Orleans. Tigers lost in New Orleans two years ago and lead the series with the Privateers, 7-4. Tigers are now 2-0 in the SEC after defeating Alabama, 70-66, after rallying from 10 down with 5:15 to play. LSU is 2-0 in the league for the first time since the 1994-95 campaign when LSU own its first two by downing Florida at home and Auburn on the road. The Tigers 11-1 start is the best since the 2000 team started 12-0. LSU's 13-game home winning streak dating back to last season is tied for the seventh best in the 33-years of the Assembly Center and is tied for the 11th longest active home winning streak in NCAA Division I basketball. Between the Tigers and the LSU Lady Tigers, the two teams have won a combined 23 straight games at the Maravich Center dating back to last season. LSU is now 6-0 on television this year. Tigers will return to SEC play on Saturday at 2 p.m. hosting nationally-ranked Mississippi State. Brandon Bass scored 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting to lead the Tigers past the Arkansas Razorbacks, 66-55, last Tuesday night.

Ole Miss opened the first week of conference play with losses to Division rivals Mississippi State, 61-54 in Oxford, and Auburn, 80-53 on the Plains. Against the Tigers Saturday, Justin Reed posted his seventh 20-point game of the season and topped the team in both points (20) and rebounds (6) for the eighth time. His 20 points versus Auburn moved him over the 1,500 plateau for his career, making him the ninth Ole Miss player to reach that mark. With just four more boards, Reed will become only the fifth Rebel to rank top 10 in both career points and rebounds. The Rebels had their six-game win streak snapped Wednesday to Mississippi State, 61-54. Ole Miss led most of the way, including a 10-point advantage with just more than 6:30 remaining. Tommie Eddie led the Rebels and posted his second double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Freshman point guard Todd Abernethy tallied a career-high 12 points against the Bulldogs. Ole Miss enjoys a midweek break before traveling to Arkansas on Saturday in one of five straight SEC West encounters to open league play. The Rebels had their six-game win streak snapped last Wednesday to Mississippi State, 61-54. Tommie Eddie led the Rebels with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Now the lone remaining undefeated team in the SEC, the 13-0 Bulldogs bid to extend their best start in school history by playing host to Kentucky on Tuesday and traveling to LSU for a Saturday contest. The ESPN Super Tuesday contest pitting MSU and Kentucky will mark a rematch of last year's SEC Tournament championship game. The current top two single-season win streaks in MSU history are 15 and 14 consecutive victories put together by the 1958-59 and 1961-62 State squads, respectively, more than 40 years ago. With Saturday's 80-62 home win over Arkansas, the Bulldogs set a new Humphrey Coliseum record with their 14th consecutive home triumph dating back to last season. State is 2-0 to begin conference competition for the first time since the Final Four-bound Bulldogs also started 2-0 in 1995-96. The last UK game in Starkville was a State come-from-behind 74-69 overtime home win over the Wildcats in the team's 2001-02 conference opener. The Bulldogs enter Tuesday's game against Kentucky looking to snap a five-game losing skid against nationally ranked opponents. Tuesday's ESPN encounter with Kentucky will mark the first of four straight televised contests for State.

USC had six players in double figures for the second time this year in their 84-63 Southeastern Conference victory at Georgia. The first was versus Garner Webb. Carlos Powell continued his streak and has scored in double figures every game this season with 13 points against the Bulldogs. Powell and Renaldo Balkman were 'benched' for their first rotation (Powell is a starter and Balkman is the 6th man) for being late to the team's pre-game on Saturday. South Carolina's win over Georgia was it's largest ever in Athens and the largest margin of victory since 1962. USC was 2-12 entering the game in Athens since joining the SEC. The Gamecocks shot 54.5 percent, its best shooting percentage this year. South Carolina's 14-2 record is their best record since 1961, when they started the season 18-1. USC is 5-1 in television games this season after going 6-9 last season on TV. South Carolina play at Auburn, Wednesday, January 14 at 8 pm ET. The game will be televised on Jefferson-Pilot Sports. The Gamecocks led 42-28 at halftime. USC is now 11-1 this season when leading at the break this season.

Tennessee returns home to play in-state rival Vanderbilt at 7:30 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday, Jan. 14, at Thompson-Boling Arena. The Vols fell to 9-2 on the season and 1-1 in Southeastern Conference action with a 57-95 loss at 14th-ranked Florida Saturday. Scooter McFadgon led the Vols with 12 points while Brandon Crump and C.J. Watson added 11 points each. The loss ended a six-game Vol winning streak. The winning streak was UT's longest since last season. The Commodores are the second ranked team in a row that Vols will face. It is the second in a stretch of playing seven ranked teams over the course of nine games. Tennessee has outscored its opponents 219-110 at the free throw line this season. The Vols rate second in the SEC by making 74.7 percent of their free throws on the year. Scooter McFadgon lead the Southeastern Conference in scoring (19.0 ppg) and in free throw percentage (93.0 percent). C.J. Watson's 6.45 assists per game are tops in the SEC. Ten Vols are averaging nine minutes or more per game this season. The Vols opened SEC action with an 89-65 win over Georgia, Wednesday. Scooter McFadgon led the Vols with 31 points while C.J. Watson added nine points, eight rebounds and nine assists.

Vanderbilt suffered its first loss of the season, 75-63, at Kentucky on Saturday. Mario Moore and Scott Hundley scored 15 points and Matt Freije added 13 points, but Kentucky outscored the Commodores 18-8 during the final 5:38 to pull away for the win. The setback ended Vanderbilt's best start in school history at 12 games. Earlier in the week Vanderbilt edged Auburn, 59-53, to win its SEC opener. Matt Freije scored a game-high 15 points and grabbed six rebounds against the Tigers, but it was Russell Lakey's three-pointer with 1:10 remaining that helped Vanderbilt complete its rally from a five-point deficit. Reserve forward Scott Hundley ranks second on the team in scoring, averaging 10.4 points. He leads a Commodore bench that has outscored its opponent in all 13 games this season by a score of 429-215 (16.5 points per game). Ten of 12 Commodores are averaging 11 minutes a game. Jason Holwerda is averaging 5.0 assists during his last three games. He leads the team with 51 assists on the season. Vanderbilt travels to Tennessee on Wednesday before playing host to highly ranked Florida on Saturday. The Florida game will be televised by Sunshine on taped delay.

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