SEC Team-by-Team NotesALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
On Thursday morning Keedrick Keith mentioned to his fellow UA manager Josh Gadilhe that he needed a ticket to the game for his brother, and Gadilhe told him he'd heard the game was close to a sellout.Keith rushed upstairs to the UA Athletic Ticket window, sweated it out when the ticket clerk couldn't initially place her hands on the final ticket and had to leave the window to get it, then breathed a sigh of relief when she handed him the ticket and told everyone else in line that that had been the last ticket and the game was officially sold out. Tide senior forward Emmett Thomas is the son of two Auburn grads. His dad, Emmett, lettered on Auburn's basketball team in 1975. Emmett's uncle Tom Gossom played football at Auburn. Freshman Jermareo Davidson leads the SEC in blocks in conference play, compliments of the six he had in Wednesday night's Arkansas game.
With eight three-point buckets at Alabama, Arkansas extended the nation's fifth-longest streak of games with at least one three to 501. Arkansas last failed to make a three in a game in 1989. Jonathon Modica came off the bench for the first time this season in the game at Alabama, but he still led the team in scoring with 17 points. Sophomore Wen Mukubu made his first start of the season in Modica's place. He started four times last year, also getting his first start of the season at Alabama. Freshman Ronnie Brewer led the team with nine rebounds, four assists, five steals and two blocked shots at Alabama while also scoring nine points. Arkansas lost at Mississippi State, 80-62, on last Saturday. 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. Freshman Ronnie Brewer has led the club in rebounding a team-high six times this year and in assists a team-high nine times.
This is the 128th meeting between Auburn and Alabama with the Crimson Tide holding a 77-50 advantage. The Tigers have won seven of the last 11 games in the series and last won in Tuscaloosa during the 1999 SEC Championship season. Alabama holds a 37-7 series lead in Tuscaloosa, including a 30-5 mark in Coleman Coliseum. Cliff Ellis has a 9-11 record against Alabama. He is 9-10 against the Tide while at Auburn, but has won seven of the last 11 games in the series. Cliff Ellis is 8-4 in games against Mark Gottfried. While coaching Auburn, Ellis is 7-4 against Gottfried at Alabama and 1-0 while Gottfried was at Murray State. Gottfried is 4-8 coaching against Auburn. Five of the last seven Auburn-Alabama games have been decided by a combined 15 points (3.0 ppg). The two exceptions were last season, when the Tigers won 77-68 in Auburn and Alabama won 84-68 in Tuscaloosa. Prior to last year's 84-68 Alabama win in Tuscaloosa, the previous three Auburn-Alabama games in Coleman Coliseum have been decided by a combined 10 points (3.3 ppg). Auburn has allowed only 53 points in each of its last two games, going 1-1. The Tigers defeated Ole Miss 80-53 Jan. 10, but lost to South Carolina 53-51 in overtime Wednesday.
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 last 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.
UK extended its win streak against SEC competition to 21 games and its SEC regular-season win streak to 19 games with a thrilling, 67-66 road win over No. 20 Mississippi State. The Cats have won 37 of their last 39 games overall and 25 of their last 27 away from Rupp Arena. Erik Daniels last-second layup provided the winning margin over the Bulldogs. Daniels finished the game with 16 points. Kentucky has won the last 24 games that Daniels has reach double-figure points in. UK is 11-0 this year when Daniels scores 10-or-more points, 0-1 when he doesn't. Daniels ranks among league leaders in scoring (13th), rebounding (12th), field goal percentage (7th) and steals (9th). He is second on the team in points, rebounds, steals, blocks and assists. The win over MSU was Kentucky's third-straight against a ranked opponent and second-straight against a previously unbeaten team. Head coach Tubby Smith (299-110) needs just one more win to reach 300 for his career. With a career SEC record of 96-34, Smith needs just four more league wins to become the 18th coach to win 100 SEC games. At home, the Wildcats have won 14-straight league games and are 42-5 in SEC home contests under Tubby Smith. UK hosts Georgia on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. on JP Sports.
Tigers ran their record to 12-1 with a 68-60 win over the New Orleans on Monday night in their final non-conference game of the year. Freshman Brandon Bass led LSU in scoring with 18 points, while Jaime Lloreda had 14 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks and Antonio Hudson scored 11 points. Tigers are presently ranked 25th in the Blue Ribbon/Collegiate Basketball News poll which is in its second week of ranking college teams. Brandon Bass and Darrel Mitchell go into Saturday's SEC contest tied for the team lead in league scoring average at 16.0 points per game. Tigers return to play on Saturday for a 2 p.m. JP Sports telecast against Mississippi State. Tigers lead the overall series 97-86 and teams have met three times each of the last two years, splitting during the regular season with State winning in the SEC Tournament semifinals in both 2002 and 2003. LSU leads the series 61-30 in games played in Baton Rouge. Jaime Lloreda, averaging 11.8 rebounds a game is trying to become the first LSU player since Geert Hammink in 1993 to average double figure rebounds in a season for LSU
OLE MISS REBELS
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.
MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS
The Bulldogs look to rebound from their first loss of the campaign by heading to LSU to take on the Tigers Saturday in a key early SEC West clash. Tuesday's last-second 67-66 home loss to No. 5 Kentucky snapped MSU's Humphrey Coliseum-record, 14-game home winning streak. The setback also halted State's best start ever at 13 consecutive wins. The Bulldogs have prevailed in 17 of the last 22 MSU-LSU hardwood meetings dating back a decade to the 1993-94 campaign. The two teams have split the last five regular-season series, though the Bulldogs have beaten the Tigers in semifinal-round action of the SEC Tournament during each of the past two seasons. Lawrence Roberts notched his league-leading 10th double-double of the season earlier in the week against Kentucky to become the first Bulldog player to hit the double-digit mark for double-doubles in one season since Erick Dampier recorded 13 double-doubles during MSU's 1995-96 Final Four season. The Bulldogs have outrebounded both Kentucky (39-27) and Arkansas (45-32) by double figures in their last two games. Tuesday's attendance of 10,432 marked the third-largest crowd in Humphrey Coliseum history.
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
USC was 0-5 in overtime games entering Wednesday night's Auburn contest, including dropping an overtime game to Auburn at the 2000 SEC Tournament. Carlos Powell has scored in double figures every game this season. Mike Boynton's 19-game scoring streak was snapped against Auburn. Winning just one game on the road last year (at Vandy), USC already has two SEC road wins. USC is also 6-1 on television this year after going 6-9 last year. USC held their seventh opponent to 20 or less points in a half this season - (Auburn scored only 19 in the second half). Thirteen of the 17 teams USC has played this year have shot 40% or less against the Gamecocks. UT's Major Wingate and USC's Carlos Powell were high school teammates at Florence Wilson in SC. USC had six players in double figures for the second time this year in their 84-63 Southeastern Conference victory at Georgia last Saturday. The first was versus Garner Webb. 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.
Tennessee will try to build on its 76-66 win over 23rd-ranked Vanderbilt when the Vols travel to South Carolina to play to Gamecocks Saturday afternoon at the The Colonial Center in Columbia. The Vols improved to 10-2 on the season and 2-1 in Southeastern Conference action with a 76-66 wins over 23rd-ranked Vanderbilt Wednesday. Scooter McFadgon and Brandon Crump each had 20 points. C.J. Watson has flirted with triple-doubles in two of his last three games. Most recently he had 11 points, a career-high 13 rebounds and seven assists against Vanderbilt. Tennessee has won six of its last seven games. Tennessee has outscored its opponents 242-128 at the free throw line this season. The Vols lead the SEC by making 74.9 percent of their free throws on the year. Over the last eight games the Vols have opened the second half by outscoring their opponents 99-51 before the first media time out. C.J. Watson has flirted with a triple-double in two of his last three games. He had nine points, eight rebounds and nine assists against Georgia (1/7/04) and then 11 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists against Vanderbilt (1/14/04). The Vols suffered a 57-95 loss at 14th-ranked Florida last Saturday. Scooter McFadgon led the Vols with 12 points.
Vanderbilt slipped to 12-2 overall and 1-2 in the SEC after suffering a 76-66 loss at Tennessee on Wednesday. Senior forward Scott Hundley recorded his first career double-double, tying for team-high honors with 11 points and 10 rebounds in the losing cause. Mario Moore (11 points), Julian Terrell (10) and Dawid Przybyszewski (10) also reached double figures in scoring. Hundley is shooting 47.8 percent from the field (11-of-23) while averaging 10.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in three games against league competition. The Commodore bench outscored Tennessee reserves, 27-10. VU reserves have outscored their opponents' bench in every game this season by a score of 456-225 (+16.5 ppg). Vanderbilt plays host to No. 15 Florida, Saturday at 7 p.m. CT. The Gators are the first ranked foe to visit Memorial Gym this season. Vanderbilt's first four SEC opponents - Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida - have a combined overall record of 42-8 entering play this weekend. Vanderbilt suffered its first loss, 75-63, at Kentucky on last Saturday. Mario Moore and Scott Hundley scored 15 points and Matt Freije added 13 points, but Kentucky outscored VU 18-8 during the final 5:38 for the win.