SEC basketball notebook

The SEC is currently posting their best non-conference record (113-21, .843) since the league expanded to 12 teams for the 1991-92 season. SEC teams are 6-6 so far this season against national ranked non-conference opponents and 3-1 against teams in the Top 10 of both polls. SEC teams have a 103-20 (.837) record at home this season.

SEC in the Polls

This season, four SEC teams are currently ranked in the AP poll with Kentucky leading the way at No. 5 followed by Mississippi State (11), Florida (22) and South Carolina (24).

In the USA Today/ESPN poll, four SEC teams are currently ranked with Kentucky (5), Mississippi State (11), Florida (20) and South Carolina (23).

Upcoming Schedule

January 31 (Saturday)
Kentucky at Vanderbilt [ESPN2] (AM) 11:00 CT
South Carolina at Ole Miss [JP] Noon CT
Florida at Tennessee [JP] 3:00 ET
Mississippi State at Auburn 3:00 CT
Arkansas at Georgia [FoxSN/SUN] 5:00 ET
LSU at Alabama [FoxSN/SUN] 6:00 CT

February 3 (Tuesday)
Kentucky at Florida [ESPN] 9:00 ET

February 4 (Wednesday)
Auburn at Arkansas [JP] 7:05 CT

February 7 (Saturday)
South Carolina at Kentucky [JP] 1:00 ET
Arkansas at LSU [JP] 12:00 CT
Georgia Tech at Tennessee [ABC] 3:00 ET
Ole Miss at Mississippi St. [FoxSN/SUN] 4:30 CT
Vanderbilt at Florida [FoxSN/SUN] 7:30 ET

February 10 (Tuesday)
Alabama at Kentucky [ESPN] 7:00 ET

Team-by-Team Notes

The Crimson Tide has an 11-game home win streak on the line Tuesday night when it plays host to the nationally ranked Florida Gators. Alabama is 78-9 at home since Mark Gottfried arrived and is 56-3 at home (.949%) in the last three seasons. The Tide is 34-8 (.810%) against the SEC at home over the past five seasons. Alabama, winner of 10 of its last 13 games, leads the SEC in scoring defense. The Tide has held its five SEC opponents to a total of 294 points for an average of 58.8. Alabama's defense has allowed only two teams to shoot 50% or better this season. In Alabama's last eight games, the most any team has scored against Alabama is 71 by Ole Miss and 70 by LSU. Alabama held four of those eight teams to under 60 points. Alabama made 23 steals in back-to-back games last week, 11 against Auburn on January 17 and 12 against Georgia on January 21st. Antoine Pettway scored a career high 25 points at Ole Miss on Saturday. The Tide is still playing the waiting game as its leading scorer, Earnest Shelton, sits out indefinitely after spraining his right knee in the January 21st game at Georgia.

With the win over No. 22 Vanderbilt, Arkansas recorded its first win over a ranked opponent in three attempts this season. Junior Michael Jones made his first start of the year against Vanderbilt and responded with a career-high matching 18 points and added a season-high seven rebounds. Freshman Ronnie Brewer made seven of nine shots and finished with a season-high 21 points. Sophomore Matt Jones had a career-high six rebounds and matched his season scoring high of four points. Over the last three games, Arkansas is 72 of 83 at the free-throw line for a percentage of .867. Arkansas is shooting 67.5 percent at the line for the year. With the win over Vanderbilt, Arkansas has now topped last year's win total for the season. Sophomore guard Eric Ferguson led the Razorbacks in scoring with 18 points at Auburn on Wednesday. Arkansas had its second-best shooting half of the season in the first period at Auburn. The Razorbacks were 18-of-31 for 58.1 percent. Senior Billy Pharis did not score at Auburn, marking the first time he's failed to score in a game this year since the season-opener. In the win over Ole Miss, Arkansas set a school record by making 48 free throws. UA was 48-of-53. It also matches the SEC record set by Tennessee against Kentucky in 1992.

This is the 119th meeting between the Tigers and Bulldogs with Auburn holding a 65-54 series lead. The Tigers have a 38-19 series edge in Auburn, including a 26-9 mark at Beard-Eaves Coliseum. No. 19 Mississippi State defeated Auburn in their first meeting last season in the Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum (63-46). Tiger head coach Cliff Ellis is 11-9 vs. Mississippi State, including a 6-3 advantage at home. Auburn's defense in SEC play has stood out as the Tigers have allowed only 60.8 points per game in its six contests. The Tigers have allowed lows of 53 points against both Ole Miss and South Carolina (in OT), 59 points at Vanderbilt, 63 to Arkansas, 69 at Alabama and 68 at Florida. Quinnel Brown is averaging 11.7 points in Auburn's last three games at Alabama, vs. Arkansas and at Florida. Kyle Davis has recorded double-figure rebounding totals in six of the last nine games. During this nine-game span, he is averaging 9.5 rebounds (86). Lewis Monroe has started Auburn's last three games at Alabama, vs. Arkansas and at Florida. He scored a season-high four points against the Gators and added three assists. Auburn is 9-1 this season when the Tigers score 70 points or more. The only loss came to Georgia State (77-72) Dec. 22.

The University of Florida rebounded from back-to-back losses with a convincing 68-52 victory over Auburn in Gainesville. With UF holding a slim 44-42 lead with 12:00 remaining, the Gators went on a 16-2 run to separate the game, holding Auburn without a field goal or point for 5:57 in the process. Anthony Roberson scored 21 points, matching his average for the four previous Saturday games at the O'Connell Center. Roberson had 16 of his 21 in the first half when he hit 6-of-7 shots and went 4 for 4 from three-point range. David Lee had 12 points while Adrian Moss, making his second start of the season, added 10. Florida forced Auburn into a season-high 22 turnovers, creating 28 points off of those turnovers. The win improved the Gators to 25-7 against the SEC West over the last five-plus seasons. Florida improved to 20-3 all-time at home against SEC West opponents under Billy Donovan. Florida lost at home to Mississippi State, 79-68, on Wednesday. Anthony Roberson posted his fifth 20-point game of the season with exactly 20 points. Roberson added six assists while Matt Walsh scored 17 for UF.

Georgia continues its string of six consecutive games against the SEC West with a road contest at LSU before a Saturday home game against Arkansas. The Bulldogs will try to avoid a third straight regular-season loss for the first time since the 2000 season. Despite his average having dipped below double digits in the past two games, Chris Daniels still owns the highest rebounding average by a Georgia player since Alec Kessler in 1990. Rashad Wright begins this week needing just 11 assists to become UGA's all-time leader in that category. After scoring 20 points through the entire 11-game pre-conference schedule, freshman Marcus Sikes has totaled 18 in five SEC games, including a season-high eight against Mississippi State and seven against Kentucky. Freshman Corey Gibbs will undergo knee surgery Tuesday this week and will be out for the remainder of the season. The Lithonia, Ga., native played in just two games and will be eligible to apply for a medical redshirt at season's end. Mississippi State scored the first 19 points in a 71-58 victory over Georgia on Saturday. Damien Wilkins lead Georgia with 17 points. Georgia snapped a three-game winning streak over Mississippi State.

After a pair of road wins last week in Knoxville and South Bend, UK has now won 27 of its last 29 games away from Rupp Arena. Overall, Kentucky has won 39 of its last 42 games dating back to last season. The Cats have won 10-straight SEC road games. Their last SEC road loss was at Vanderbilt (86-73) on Feb. 27, 2002. Kentucky has held a double-digit lead in every game this year except for the loss to Georgia, when the Wildcats biggest lead was one point. However, seven of the Cats' 13 victories have been by fewer than 10 points. UK is 12-0 this season when scoring 60-or-more points. None of Kentucky's 15 opponents this season have shot 50 percent from the field. The Wildcats have shot 50 percent or better on six occasions. Gerald Fitch moved into the 36th spot on UK's career scoring list. He now has 1,168 points, two behind No. 35 Wayne Turner (1996-99). With eight points in the win over Notre Dame, Erik Daniels failed to reach double-figures for only this second time this season. Tubby Smith recorded his 300th career win against Tennessee on Jan. 20. It took him just 411 games to reach 300 wins, the sixth-quickest coach in history to do so. UK's largest lead of the season is 39 points against both Indiana and Eastern Kentucky.

The Tigers lost their third consecutive game, falling 61-55, to South Carolina Saturday night in Columbia, losing the game in the final minutes after leading the 25th-ranked team much of the second half. Jaime Lloreda dominated the inside during the game with 19 points and 16 rebounds, his ninth double double of the year. In LSU's four losses this year, it has failed to score 60 points in any of those games. Tigers play three of the next four at home, this week hosting Georgia on Wednesday and traveling to Alabama on Friday. LSU leads the series, 54-39, but Georgia has won the last three regular season meetings. LSU has wins over the Bulldogs in the opening rounds of the 2001 and 2002 SEC Tournaments and a home win in 2000 as the teams have split the last six games. LSU leads the series, 28-13 in Baton Rouge. LSU won the first meeting of the year, 70-66, against Alabama, rallying from 10 down in the final 10 minutes to win the contest. The Georgia game is on a same-day tape delay (10:30 p.m. CST) on Cox Sports TV, while the Alabama game is an SEC-TV production on Fox Sports Net at 6 p.m.

Ole Miss earned its second straight SEC victory, knocking off Alabama 71-60 Saturday. Senior Justin Reed tied his career high in points with 28 and posted his third double-double of the season. Reed moved past Don Kessinger (1962-64) and Gerald Glass (1989-90) for seventh on the Ole Miss all-time scoring list. Senior Aaron Harper nailed five three-pointers against the Crimson Tide to tie Keith Carter (1996-99) as the Rebel all-time leader in threes. Harper is averaging 20.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists over the last three games. Junior Justin Johnson tallied a career-high six steals against Alabama. Ole Miss travels to Kentucky Wednesday in the Rebels' first Eastern Division matchup of the year. The Wildcats control the all-time series 89-11, including a 42-2 edge in Lexington. Ole Miss nailed down its first SEC win last Wednesday, knocking off LSU 53-49 behind the senior tandem of Aaron Harper and Justin Reed. Harper posted 22 points and five assists, while Reed added 16 points and nine rebounds. Ole Miss limited LSU to 36.4 percent shooting and allowed only one player, Jaime Lloreda, in double-figures. It also marked the fifth time this season and 24th time in Barnes' six years at the helm that Ole Miss has held its opponent under 50 points.

Mississippi State takes on its third straight SEC East foe by playing host to Tennessee on Wednesday and then traveling to the Plains for a Saturday afternoon contest with Auburn. With recent wins over LSU (64-54), Florida (79-68) and Georgia (71-58), the Bulldogs have recorded three straight SEC victories all by double-digit margins for the first time since claiming the 1996 SEC Tournament championship with successive double-figure wins over Auburn, Georgia and Kentucky. During last week's wins at No. 17 Florida and at home over Georgia, MSU shot a collective 53.3 percent (57-107 FGs) from the field, while limiting the opposition to only 36.4 percent (44-121 FGs). The 23 assists earned in Saturday's home win over Georgia marked the most assists by a State squad during the Rick Stansbury era and the most by an MSU club since dishing out 23 assists in a 93-77 home win over Arkansas in 1996-97. Now having been a part of 82 Bulldog wins during his four-year State career, senior co-captain Timmy Bowers became the school's all-time winningest basketball player with Saturday's home victory over Georgia, surpassing former Bulldog forward Jay Walton (81 wins; 1992, '94-96).

Carlos Powell had 12 points, including South Carolina's only three-pointer of the game with 1:38 left, to lead the 25th-ranked Gamecocks past LSU 61-55 Saturday night. Vandy and LSU are the only teams that USC has a winning record against in the SEC. USC is 3-0 vs. Tigers this year: LSU, Clemson and Auburn. Saturday's game was the first-ever sell out at the Colonial Center prior to game day. Attendance was 17,927, the largest of the season and the largest crowd to ever see a basketball game in the state of South Carolina. It was the first time this season USC didn't hit a three pointer in the first half (0-10). The LSU game was the ninth game this season that USC had 10 or more steals. The 0-22 start from beyond the arch is the worse for South Carolina in SEC play since going 0-19 against Mississippi State on March 2, 2002. The win marks the second best start for USC in SEC play after five games. The best start came in 1996-97 when Carolina went 5-0. That season, USC won the SEC title. Mike Boynton fouled out for the first time since Mississippi State on March 13, 2003.

The Tennessee Volunteers return to league play when they travel to Starkville, Miss., to meet the 19th-rank Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Vols are looking to end a three-game losing streak when they visit Starkville. Tennessee's last two losses (to No. 9 Kentucky and No. 5 Louisville) have been by a combined four points. Tennessee fell to 10-5 on the season with a 62-65 loss to fifth-ranked Louisville Sunday night in Knoxville. Brandon Crump led the Vols with 16 points while Jemere Hendrix added a career-high 12 rebounds. John Winchester had career marks for assists (5) and steals (3) against the Cards. The Mississippi State game continues a nine-game stretch where the Vols play eight opponents currently listed in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll. Tennessee has outscored its opponents 296-167 at the free throw line this season. The Vols lead the SEC by making 74.4 percent of their free throws on the year. Tennessee is playing its fifth ranked team in its last six games. The Vols have played No. 14 Florida, No. 23 Vanderbilt, No. 9 Kentucky and No. 5 Louisville. UT has held its opponents to 14.9 percent (7-of-47) shooting from 3-point range the last two games. The Vols fell to 2-3 in SEC action with a 68-69 overtime loss to ninth-ranked Kentucky last Tuesday night.

Vanderbilt dropped its third game of the year, 70-62, at Arkansas, Saturday. Matt Freije scored a team-high 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Vanderbilt and Mario Moore scored all of his 17 points in the second half but Arkansas outscored the Commodores by 10 points over the final six minutes of the game. All three Commodore losses have come away from home. Moore is averaging 16.0 points over his last four games and has tallied 35 of his last 38 points in the second half. Jason Holwerda handed out seven assists Saturday at Arkansas. It marked the fourth time this season he has dished out as many as seven assists in a game. His 4.1 assists per game average leads the Commodores. Freije needs eight points to pass Jeff Fosnes (1973-76) for seventh place on Vanderbilt's all-time scoring list. Freije enters the week with 1,572 career points. The Commodores play host a pair of nationally ranked teams this week in South Carolina and Kentucky. Vanderbilt defeated then-No. 17 Florida in Vanderbilt's only home game against a ranked opponent this season. Vanderbilt is off to its best home start since the 1992-93 squad went undefeated at home (13-0) and won the SEC Eastern Division.

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