Tuesday SEC basketball notes

This season, four SEC teams are currently ranked in the AP poll with Mississippi State leading the way at No. 7 followed by Kentucky (9), Florida (21) and South Carolina (25). In the USA Today/ESPN poll, five SEC teams are currently ranked with Mississippi State (7), Kentucky (9), Florida (21), South Carolina (24) and Vanderbilt (25).

Poll Worthy

The SEC is the only conference in the nation to have all of its teams ranked at least one week in the Associated Press top 20 (excluding preseason polls) since 1997-98. Simply stated, every SEC team has been a top 20 team nationally at one point in the last six-plus seasons.

Upcoming Schedule

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

February 4 (Wednesday)
Ole Miss at Georgia 7:00 ET
Alabama at South Carolina 7:30 ET
Tennessee at LSU 7:00 CT
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
Georgia at Auburn 3:00 CT
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

February 11 (Wednesday)
Arkansas at Tennessee [JP] 8:00 ET
Georgia at Vanderbilt [JP] 7:00 CT

February 14 (Saturday)
Kentucky at Georgia [CBS] 1:00 ET
Tennessee at Alabama [JP] 2:00 CT
LSU at Florida [JP] 3:00 ET
Auburn at Ole Miss [FoxSN/SUN] 5:00 CT
Mississippi St. at Arkansas [FoxSN/SUN] 7:00 CT

February 17 (Tuesday)
Florida at Georgia [ESPN] 9:00 ET

Team-by-Team Notes

The University of Alabama begins a stretch of four straight games against the SEC Eastern Division when it travels to South Carolina on Wednesday. Alabama will play at South Carolina and Kentucky (Feb. 10) and host Tennessee (Feb. 14) and Vanderbilt (Feb. 18) before it returns to the SEC Western Division race with a Feb. 21 game at Mississippi State. In its last five games, Alabama's defense has held its opponents to an average of 61.4 points. Junior guard Earnest Shelton is listed as "questionable" regarding his playing status against South Carolina on Wednesday. He sprained his knee in the January 21st Georgia game. Shelton missed two games and came back briefly to play five minutes in Saturday's LSU game. Kennedy Winston, who is averaging 16.1 points after 18 games had back-to-back games this past week where he scored 25 against Florida and 23 against LSU. He's averaged 21 points in his last three games. Bama's Antoine Pettway leads the SEC (all games) in assist/turnover ratio (2.33). Alabama leads the nation in strength of schedule, according to CollegeRPI.com.

In Saturday's loss at Georgia, Arkansas made just one of 15 three-point attempts. Ronnie Brewer's three with 10:29 to play in the first half was the only three of the game for the Razorbacks, but it extended UA's streak of consecutive games with at least one three-point bucket to 505, the fifth-longest streak in the nation. Arkansas recorded a season-high 15 steals against the Bulldogs. The last time Arkansas had as many as 15 steals in a game was Jan. 26, 2002, when the Razorbacks had 16 in the 94-92 overtime home win over No. 5 Florida. Ronnie Brewer had five steals against Georgia, his second five-steal game of the year. His other, against Alabama on Jan. 14, was the first for a Hog since T.J. Cleveland had seven against North Carolina-Greensboro on Dec. 10, 2001. Sophomore Jonathon Modica has made 14 of 25 shots over the last two games, 56 percent. He's led the team in scoring 12 times this year and 19 times in his career. He's shot 50 percent or better in a game eight times this year and 22 times in his career. With the win over No. 22 Vanderbilt last Wednesday, Arkansas recorded its first win over a ranked opponent in three attempts this season. Brewer made seven of nine shots and finished with a season-high 21 points.

This is the 28th meeting between the Tigers and Razorbacks with Arkansas holding a 16-11 series lead. The Tigers are 2-10 in Fayetteville, including a 1-9 mark in Bud Walton Arena. The Tigers swept Arkansas last year for only the second time in series history (1993). Auburn's three-game winning streak against the Hogs is the Tigers' longest in the 27-game series history. Auburn, which defeated the Razorbacks 52-37 in Bud Walton Arena Jan. 11, 2003, has never won back-to-back games in Fayetteville. The Tigers' only other win in Arkansas came in a 100-89 victory over the eighth-ranked Razorbacks in 1993, the final season of Barnhill Arena. Auburn and Arkansas are both playing each other for the second time in four games during the past two weeks. The Tigers came from 19 points down to defeat the Razorbacks 70-63 Jan. 21 in Auburn in their first meeting this year. Junior Quinnel Brown scored a career-high 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting in a career-high 37 minutes against #11 Mississippi State in his first start since Dec. 7. Junior point guard Lewis Monroe scored a career-high 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting vs. #11 Mississippi State in a season-high 34 minutes. He also had three assists and two steals.

The University of Florida fell just shy in its attempt for its first win in Knoxville since 2002, as Lee Humphrey's leaning three-pointer at the buzzer hit the front of the rim, allowing Tennessee to escape with a 65-53 victory. Anthony Roberson and Matt Walsh scored 17 apiece to lead the Gators. Both players have now been in double figures in six of seven SEC games thus far. The Gators rallied from a 10-point deficit to grab as much as a four-point lead under five minutes remaining, but they could not hold on to the lead. Florida was out-rebounded 43-24, surrendering 18 offensive rebounds. Florida turned the ball over only 11 times, but shot just 39.6 percent from the floor on the afternoon. The trio of Roberson, Walsh and David Lee are averaging 46.3 of Florida's 74.1 points per game in SEC play. The Gators are hitting 39.6 percent from three-point range during SEC play, over two percent higher than their season average. Florida returns to action on Tuesday night against Kentucky before hosting Vanderbilt on Saturday as the Gators begin a three-game homestand.

Georgia stopped its longest SEC losing streak in four years with a win over Arkansas. The Bulldogs' 71 points were their most in a regulation 40-minute game since Dec. 22. They also shot a season-high 53 percent from the field. Rashad Wright begins this week needing just five assists to become UGA's career leader. He currently has 462, four shy of all-time leader Litterial Green. Also from the Arkansas game, for just the second time this season, all seven of Georgia's walk-ons played in a game. Though it was disallowed, Georgia senior Jonas Hayes swished a shot at the end of the LSU game that was estimated at 84 feet in length. Freshman Buzz Wehunt scored 10 points against LSU, five times his previous total in SEC games. Georgia dropped a 63-59 decision last 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. 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.

Kentucky travels to Gainesville to take on Florida Tuesday night. UK is 80-24 all-time against the Gators, having won four-straight and six of the last seven in the series. The Cats have won in their last two visits to Gainesville. Vanderbilt snapped Kentucky's 10-game SEC road winning streak. UK's last two SEC road losses have come at Nashville's Memorial Gym (Feb. 27, 2002 and Jan. 31, 2004). Kentucky has held a double-digit lead in 15 of its 17 games. The exceptions were against North Carolina and Georgia, where UK's largest leads reached eight and one points, respectively. UK is 13-0 this season when scoring more than 60 points. None of Kentucky's 17 opponents this season have shot 50 percent from the field. Only Tennessee Tech (.492) has shot better than 47 percent. Gerald Fitch is now in the 35th spot on UK's career scoring list. He has 1,195 points, 14 behind No. 34 Roderick Rhodes (1993-95). Erik Daniels leads the SEC with a .627 FG pct in league games. His 17.2 ppg average in SEC action is fifth in the conference. The Wildcats have struggled recently from behind the arc, hitting just 24 percent (22-of-91) of their treys over the last five contests. UK was 3-of-19 on three-pointers at Vanderbilt, including an 0-for-10 effort in the second half.

The Tigers won both games last week, 63-59, over Georgia at home (1-28) and on the road at Alabama (60-54) Jan. 31. The Tigers are 2-2 on the road in the league so far and 2-1 at home. The Tigers record in the league (4-3) for the month of January equals the best of the John Brady era when the 2000 team was 4-3 in the month. The Tigers 14-4 start is the best at LSU since 2000. LSU's present win percentage of 77.8 percent is the seventh best for an LSU team in the last 25 years at the end of January play. LSU is undefeated (14-0) this season when scoring at least 60 points in a game. Jaime Lloreda, with his third consecutive double double against Alabama of 14 points-11 rebounds, continues to put him a top the SEC in overall and conference rebound average and he remains second in the NCAA statistics. The Tigers play two home games this week versus Tennessee (Wednesday, 7 p.m. CST) and Arkansas (Saturday, Noon CST, JP Sports). LSU's win over the Vols at Knoxville last year broke an eight-game Tennessee win streak in the series. LSU won at Arkansas, 66-55, earlier in January to open SEC play.

Ole Miss earned its first victory over a top-25 foe this season, knocking off No. 23/24 South Carolina 79-68 Saturday. It ran the Rebels' home SEC winning streak to three games. Senior Justin Reed posted a career-high 32 points to take over the conference lead in scoring. The 32 points was the most by a Rebel since Keith Carter's 33 vs. Arkansas during the 1998-99 season. Reed also grabbed 13 rebounds in earning his fourth double-double of the season. It marked the 10th game this season that the senior forward topped Ole Miss in both points and rebounds. The Rebels saw their two-game SEC win streak snapped Wednesday in a tightly-contested battle with No. 5 Kentucky on the road, 71-61. The game was tied at halftime 29-29, and Ole Miss trailed by only five with 2:14 remaining. Senior Aaron Harper continued his hot shooting with a team-high 19 points. Harper also etched his name in the Ole Miss record book Wednesday, becoming the Rebels' all-time leader in three-pointers made. The senior forward's first of three treys against UK moved him past Ole Miss great Keith Carter (1996-99) atop the career three list with 250. Junior Kendrick Fox added four threes and 16 points off the Rebel bench Wednesday for his best career game in SEC play.

The Bulldogs will take the midweek off from competition before playing host to Mississippi on Saturday. The Bulldogs' current five-game SEC winning streak is the team's longest since closing out the 2001-02 regular season with five straight league wins and then posting three successive SEC Tournament victories en route to claiming their second league tournament championship. MSU's 7-1 conference record is the team's best eight-game league mark since beginning the 1962-63 campaign with an 8-1 mark. The Bulldogs have had four players score in double figures during each of their five SEC wins since their last-second 67-66 home loss to Kentucky on Jan. 13. Roberts is also attempting to become the first State player since Rickey Brown (1979-80) to average a double-double during the course of an entire season. Including last month's 61-54 win in Oxford, the Bulldogs have prevailed in the last five MSU-UM hardwood meetings. The Bulldogs have won 18 of the last 20 Starkville meetings between the two in-state rivals. MSU's four straight SEC road wins this season mark the most for a State squad since the 1995-96 NCAA Final Four team posted four league road victories on the year.

The 79 points that Ole Miss put on the board against USC was the most USC has allowed this year - with only two other teams scoring 70 or more vs. USC (Gardner Webb 74 and Temple 71). The Gamecocks had won five SEC games in a row going into the Ole Miss game. USC will be looking to start another winning steak against Alabama. South Carolina's longest SEC winning streak is 11 by the 1996-97 squad and then five by the 1996-97 and 1997-98 teams. USC has played 27 basketball games in the Colonial Center. Out of the 27 games, 17 have had games with an attendance of 10,000 or more. In those 17 games, USC is 12-5. The Gamecocks are 20-4 against teams visiting the Colonial Center for the first time. USC is 5-4 against SEC Opponents coming to the Colonial Center for the first time. The only SEC teams that have not came to play USC in the Colonial Center are Alabama (2/4) and Mississippi State (2/11). Defeating Georgia, Auburn and Vanderbilt on the road marked the first time USC had won three straight on the road against SEC opponents since the 1996-97 season.

Tennessee will be attempting to halt a three-game road losing streak Wednesday when they travel to Baton Rouge, La., to meet LSU. The Vols upset 22nd-ranked Florida 65-63 Saturday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena. Scooter McFadgon went 10-for-10 from the free throw line and led all scorers with 24 points. Brandon Crump registered his fifth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds. UT outrebounded the Gators 43-24, the Vols' second-largest rebounding margin of the season. Tennessee is in a nine-game stretch where the Vols play eight contests against teams listed in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll. The Florida game marked the first time in school history the Vols have played four consecutive opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll. McFadgon's 24 points against the Gators increased his scoring average to 19.0 points per game. In league games he is averaging 21.0 points per game. One of the keys to UT's success has been free throws. The Vols lead the SEC with a 74.5 free throw percentage and have outshot their opponents 459-294 at the line. With a 10-2 home record at home this season, the Vols have secured their eighth consecutive winning record at home at their 14th winning season at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Matt Freije posted his second double-double of the week with 20 points and 11 rebounds to help Vanderbilt upset No. 5 Kentucky 66-60 Saturday. The Commodores outscored the Wildcats 23-7 during the final 13:03, limiting UK to three field goals. Dawid Przybyszewski sparked VU with 13 points off the bench. VU's bench outscored Kentucky reserves 32-12. For the season the Commodore bench holds a 530-287 advantage (+13.5) over its opponent's reserves. Kentucky shot 37.3 percent from the field, becoming Vanderbilt's 10th opponent this season to shoot under 40 percent. Vanderbilt has held its opponent to 60 or fewer points 10 times this season. Freije (1,618 points and 522 rebounds) is only the third player in Vanderbilt history with more than 1,600 career points and 500 career rebounds, joining Clyde Lee (1,691 points and 1,223 rebounds) and Charles Davis (1,675 points and 746 rebounds). He is averaging 22.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in Vanderbilt's last four games. VU improves to 12-1 at home and has won 12 or more games 39 times in the 52-year history of Memorial Gymnasium. Vanderbilt travels to Florida on Saturday.

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