ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Alabama continues the waiting game on senior guard Earnest Shelton. Shelton sprained his right knee in the January 21st Georgia game and is out indefinitely as the Tide waits day-to-day regarding his playing status. This comes at the same time two other starters are also having knee problems. Sophomore forward Kennedy Winston (15.6 ppg) awoke Monday to a great deal of swelling on his left knee which he'd had surgery on September 11, and freshman forward Jermareo Davidson is practicing and playing with sleeve on his left knee. He injured it in the January 24th Ole Miss game. He played only six minutes in the first half of that game because of it, leaving Alabama without two of its starters on the floor. Alabama leads the SEC in 3-point field goal percentages (.371%) and senior guard Antoine Pettway leads the league in assist-turnover ratio (2.48).
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.
Anthony Roberson poured in 26, while David Lee matched his career high with 24 points, guiding the Florida Gators to a 88-78 win at Alabama Tuesday night. It marked the first time two Gators combined for 50 points in a game since Roberson and Matt Walsh combined for 51 in a victory over Bethune Cookman on Dec. 28, 2002. Roberson connected on 9-of-16 shots from the floor, including 6-of-12 from three-point range. Roberson moved up to eighth on Florida's all-time three-pointers made list by games end with 123. Roberson is now hitting .445 from three-point range on the season. Lee connected on 8-of-12 shots both from the field and the line to score a career-high 24 points, the third time this season he's posted 24. The Gators hit a blistering 56.7 percent from the floor, including 60 percent in the first half when they jumped out to a nine-point halftime lead. The Gators have now hit better than 50 percent from the floor in eight of 17 games this season. Florida dished out 15 assists to just seven turnovers in improving to 26-7 against the SEC West Division since 1999.
Georgia plays host to Arkansas Saturday in the Bulldogs' fourth straight interdivisional SEC matchup. They arrive at Saturday's game with a 9-8 overall record, 1-5 in SEC games, after dropping a 63-59 decision Wednesday at LSU. The loss was Georgia's third consecutive, its longest such streak in conference play since the 2000 season. Not coincidentally, it was also the first time since 2000 that Georgia had not reached the 60-point mark in three straight SEC contests. Since the Razorbacks joined the SEC in 1992, Georgia has never won more than two straight in this series. Saturday's game is the 18th all-time meeting between Georgia and Arkansas in basketball. Arkansas leads the series 11-6, but Georgia leads 4-2 in Athens. These two schools had never played each other in basketball before the 1991-92 season, when Arkansas joined the SEC and the league was pared into East and West divisions. Arkansas has been Georgia's most frequent opponent in the SEC Tournament, meeting five times. In the LSU game, Rashad Wright and Damien Wilkins continued their respective endurance tests, going the full 40 minutes. Wright failed to get credit for an assist for the first time ever in an SEC game, a streak of 54 consecutive games.
The Ole Miss game was UK's 400th at Rupp Arena. UK is 358-42 (89.5%) in its 28th season at the downtown venue. 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. Tubby Smith recorded his 300th career win against Tennessee in just 411 games, the sixth-quickest coach in history to do so. Smith is 302-111 (.731) in his 13th season as a head coach. Smith needs two more league victories to become the 18th coach with 100 career SEC wins. Chuck Hayes has started 60-consecutive games, the longest current streak by a Wildcat. Kentucky has won 40 of its last 43 games overall and 27 of its last 29 games away from Rupp Arena. UK has won 10-straight SEC road games. The Cats last SEC road loss was at Vanderbilt (86-73) on Feb. 27, 2002. The Wildcats are 205-25 (.891) in regular-season SEC games at Rupp Arena, including a 44-6 record in the Tubby Smith era. UK's largest lead of the season is 39 points against both Indiana and Eastern Kentucky. The Cats' largest deficit of the year is 11 against Georgia. The Cats are 13-0 when scoring 60 or more points this season. None of UK's 16 opponents this season has topped 50% shooting from the field.
LSU won opening meeting with Alabama in Baton Rouge, 70-66, on January 10. In that game, Tigers were led by the 19 of Darrell Mitchell with Antonio Hudson scoring 13 and Jaime Lloreda, Brandon Bass and Tack Minor with 12 each. Alabama leads the series in Tuscaloosa, 57-16. LSU last won in Coleman in 2000, 93-60. LSU has won the last two meetings in the series, both in Baton Rouge. LSU won a close game with Georgia to snap a three-game losing streak and get back to .500 in the league. LSU was 12-of-19 from the field in the second half (63.2 percent) and shot 53.8 percent for the game (21-of-39). Jaime Lloreda doubled up for the 10th time this year with 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Brandon Bass broke out of his mini-slump with 17 points. Darrel Mitchell added 12 points. LSU out rebounded Georgia, 34-28. The Tigers 3-3 start equals the best by a John Brady team at LSU and 3-3 is the best since the 1994-95 team started 4-0. The LSU team in 2000 under Brady started 1-3 and got back to .500 after six games. At that point in the season, the 2000 team overall had a record of 15-3.
OLE MISS REBELS
No. 5 Kentucky defeated Ole Miss 71-61 on Wednesday night. Aaron Harper led Mississippi (10-7, 2-4) with 19 points, Kendrick Fox added 16 off the bench and Justin Reed had 15. Aaron Harper became the Rebels' all-time leader in three-pointers. His three three-pointers against Kentucky put him atop the list with 252. Ole Miss finished 22-of-50 (44 percent) and was 9-of-17 from 3-point range. Ole Miss knocked off Alabama 71-60 last Saturday. 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. Junior Justin Johnson tallied a career-high six steals against Alabama. 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 BULLDOGS
Having outscored their last four opponents by an average margin of 14.0 points per game, the Bulldogs have posted four straight double-digit league victories for the first time since MSU's 1995-96 Final Four campaign. MSU heads into Saturday afternoon's contest at Auburn bidding to record a sixth consecutive series win over the Tigers for the first time in the program's 92-year hardwood history. MSU is bidding for its first 7-1 SEC start since the 1962-63 State squad started out 8-1 in league play. State has posted a league-most seven true road wins this season, including three straight SEC road triumphs (Florida, LSU and Mississippi) to begin conference road competition. Over the last three games, the Bulldogs have shot a composite 50.9 percent from the field, while limiting the opposition to a collective 36.3 percent field-goal shooting. Junior Lawrence Roberts has been named as a midseason top 30 candidate for the prestigious John R. Wooden Award. Senior Timmy Bowers has moved into second place on MSU's all-time list with 167 career made 3-pointers and stands 21st on the school's all-time scoring chart with 1,134 career points.
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
South Carolina, 18-2 and ranked No. 24 in the AP poll this week and No. 23 by the Coaches Poll, will travel to Oxford, Miss. for a 1 pm (EST) match-up with the Ole Miss Rebels. The Gamecocks have won five straight SEC games after dropping its SEC opener to then-No. 14 Florida 62-65. It's the best start for Carolina in the SEC since the 1997 team won the SEC title with a 15-1 record, with that team winning its first 11 games. Ole Miss is coming off a Wednesday loss at Kentucky, 71-61. The Rebels, led by forwards Aaron Harper and Justin Reed, are coached by sixth-year head coach Rod Barnes. The series record between Carolina and Ole Miss is all knotted at nine wins each. USC shouldn't expect the red carpet to be rolled out for the team. The Gamecocks are 0-6 all-time in Oxford and 2-20 all-time in the State of Mississippi. The Gamecocks have held all of their SEC opponents so far to at least 10 points under their total so far this season. The six opponents together have averaged 77.0 points coming into the contest but have only averaged 58.8 against the Carolina defense, 18.2 points under the average.
The Tennessee Volunteers continue their tough scheduling stretch when the 22nd-ranked Florida Gators visit Thompson-Boling Arena Saturday, Jan. 31. UT lost 60-82 to 11th-ranked Mississippi State Wednesday night in Starkville. Scooter McFadgon led the Vols with 20 points while Jemere Hendrix gathered a career-high 14 rebounds on the way to his second career double-double. The Florida game continues a nine-game stretch where the Vols play eight contests against teams listed in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll. The Florida game will mark the first time in school history the Vols have played four consecutive opponents ranked in the AP Top 25. McFadgon leads the SEC with 18.7 points per game on the season. In league games the Memphis native is averaging a conference-best 20.5 points per game. UT is playing its sixth ranked team in its last seven games. The Vols have played No. 14 Florida, No. 23 Vanderbilt, No. 9 Kentucky, No. 5 Louisville and No 11 Mississippi State. The only unranked team in that stretch was South Carolina, which is currently ranked 24th in the AP poll. The Vols are playing their fourth consecutive team ranked in the RPI's top 10. UT has held its opponents to 20.3 percent (13-of-64) shooting from 3-point range the last three games.
Kerbrell Brown's tip-in with less than two seconds remaining gave South Carolina a 57-55 win at Vanderbilt, Wednesday. The loss ended Vanderbilt's home winning streak at 11 games. Matt Freije recorded his fourth career double with 26 points and 11 rebounds and Scott Hundley added 12 points and six rebounds for Vanderbilt. Freije moved past Jeff Fosnes (1,579) into seventh place on the Vanderbilt all-time scoring chart with 1,598 points. Freije grabbed his 500th career rebound against Arkansas last Saturday to become only the sixth player in school history to record 1,500 points and 500 rebounds. Freije is shooting 43.5 percent from the field (20-of-46) and averaging 22.7 points and 7.7 rebounds over his last three games. The Commodores extended their three-point streak to 550 games when Freije hit a three-pointer in the first half against South Carolina. VU's streak is the second longest in the nation behind UNLV (555). Vanderbilt, UNLV and Princeton are the only three schools at the Division I level to have made a three-pointer in every game since the rule was implemented for the 1986-87 season. Vandy plays host to Kentucky Saturday at 11a.m. CT. The game will be televised by ESPN2.