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. ">
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. ">

SEC basketball notes

The SEC ranks first in the nation in Non-Conference RPI, according to the latest poll by CollegeRPI.com, plus, the SEC ranks first in Strength of Schedule among the "Big Six" conferences. <br><br>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.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama hits the road this week for games at Arkansas (Wednesday) and at Florida (Saturday). The Florida game marks the fifth ranked team Alabama has played this season (it's 3-1 vs. the Top 25, with wins against Oklahoma, Xavier and Mississippi State and a loss to Kentucky). Tide senior Erwin Dudley has made the Wooden Top 30 midseason list in his bid for National Player of the Year. Dudley is vying for his third straight SEC rebounding championship and continues to be the only player in the league who is averaging a double-double with 13.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Kenny Walker, who collected his fourth career double-double on Saturday with 16 points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes of play against Arkansas, has a big week this week. He turns 23 on February 4 then visits his home state of Florida on Saturday to take on the Gators. Walker is from Jacksonville. Mo Williams led Alabama's latest win against Arkansas with 27 points, the third time this season he's scored 20 or more in a game. The super soph leads Alabama in scoring with 15.7 points a game.

Arkansas Razorbacks

Arkansas will host Alabama this Wednesday in a rematch of the first SEC game. The Razorbacks will travel to Mississippi State on Saturday. Both games will be televised. The Alabama game on Jefferson-Pilot Sports and the Mississippi State game on SEC-TV. Jonathon Modica had a game and season-high 26 points at Florida. His point total is the highest for an Arkansas freshman since Joe Johnson had 30 points against Mississippi State on Jan. 22, 2000. The Razorbacks had a season-high matching nine three-pointers against the Gators. Also in the Florida game, senior forward Larry Satchell had a season-high nine points and a season-high matching seven rebounds. Arkansas schedule is rated second-toughest in the nation by CBSSportsline.com and fourth-toughest in the country by CollegeRPI.com. Senior Blake Eddins is being recognized this week by the SEC as a member of the Good Works Team. Arkansas is holding opponents to an average of 65.1 points per game and scoring 63.6 points per game. If those figures hold, it would be the lowest averages allowed and scored by Arkansas since 1985.

Florida Gators

The Gators moved into the No. 1 position in the rankings for the first time in school history. Their previous high came during the 2001-02 season when they were ranked No. 2 for one week. Florida travels to Kentucky during Rivalry Week for a Super Tuesday showdown. Florida is 4-0 versus ranked opponents and UK will be their fifth ranked opponent this season. The Florida Gators matched their school record for consecutive wins, reeling off their 14th straight victory, a 77-66 decision over Arkansas. The victory also moved the Gators to a perfect 7-0 in conference play for the first time in school history, while their 18-2 start is the best in school history. Anthony Roberson hit 6-of-11 shots, including 4-of-8 on threes to lead the Gators with 16 points. Matt Bonner and David Lee added 13 points apiece. The Gators hit 15-19 free throws (.789), their second best outing in conference play. Florida committed only two turnovers in the first half en route to a seven-point halftime lead. It was the ninth time in 20 games that a freshman led the Gators in scoring.

Auburn Tigers

Auburn has lost three straight games, its longest losing skid of the season. Even though Auburn has lost three straight games, the Tigers are still in first in the Western Division, one game ahead of Alabama, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Auburn plays host to second-place Ole Miss Wednesday, its second of three-straight home games. The Tigers have a 63-41 series record against Ole Miss and a 42-8 mark in Auburn. Auburn plays host to LSU Saturday in Auburn while LSU holds a 71-53 series lead. The teams are tied at 29 in games played in Auburn, but LSU has a 21-13 edge in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. There has been a season sweep the past four years in the Auburn-LSU series with Auburn winning both games vs. LSU in 1999 and 2001 while LSU defeated Auburn twice in 2000 and 2002. Auburn's three-game losing streak is its longest since losing three-straight to end last season. Junior Kyle Davis is three blocks away from becoming the Tigers' career-blocked shots leader. Of Auburn's seven SEC games, the Tigers have only played two games against Western Division teams (wins vs. Alabama and at Arkansas).

Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia enjoys its last "bye" in the conference schedule this week. The Bulldogs are off until a Saturday afternoon contest at Tennessee, which Georgia defeated 81-76 in overtime on Jan. 22 in Athens. Georgia forward Jarvis Hayes needs the open date to recover from a bothersome strained hip flexor muscle. Since he incurred the injury in that first Tennessee game, Hayes has averaged just 10.3 points in three games, shooting 29 percent from the field, 13 percent from 3-point range His five points vs. Miss. State last Saturday were a career low at Georgia. After 18 games last season Georgia was 15-3 overall, 4-1 in SEC play. Georgia's AP Top 25 ranking of 15th last week matched its highest point during last season and was the highest for the program since February of 1996 (14th). Georgia is 6-0 in games where Jarvis Hayes and Ezra Williams scored 20 or more points each in the same game. Georgia's strength-of-schedule rating is first nationally, according to the latest RPI listings. The 2001 team was also No. 1 in strength of schedule at season's end. Georgia made 17-of-18 free throws in its win over Auburn, the best by a Bulldog team since the 1998 squad made 29 of 30 in the SEC Tournament.

Kentucky Wildcats

The SEC's two undefeated teams battle on Super Tuesday when Florida visits Kentucky. The Gators own a 14-game win streak, the nation's second longest, while the Wildcats own the nation's fifth-longest win streak at 10 games. UK has faced a No. 1 team only one time in Rupp Arena history. No. 5 Kentucky knocked off top-ranked Indiana, 69-58, on Dec. 15, 1979. While the Cats are 4-8 against AP No. 1 teams since 1949, Florida marks their eighth ranked opponent on the UK schedule this season, the first top-ranked foe. The two teams have shared the SEC Championship in 2000 and 2001 and split the East Division crown for a third straight year last season. This meeting matches the SEC's highest scoring offense (Florida - 75.4 ppg) against the top defense (Kentucky - 57.3 ppg allowed) in league games only. In all games, UK is actually outscoring the Gators, 78.3 ppg to 77.9 ppg. But not only is UF undefeated since Dec. 3, the Gators are unbeaten on the road, winning all five games this season. The Cats finish the week at Ole Miss. UK is 6-1 on the road this season, including a 4-0 mark in league play.

LSU Tigers

Ronald Dupree had two games over 20 points against nationally-ranked competition this week for LSU, scoring 20 points with 9 rebounds against Florida (Jan. 28) and 22 at Alabama with 9 rebounds (Feb. 1). In both games, Dupree was 10-of-18 from the field, the first two times this season an LSU player had 10 field goals. Brad Bridgewater played 32 minutes against Alabama, filling in for Jaime Lloreda and had a season high 12 points with six rebounds, an assist, a block and a steal for LSU. The Tigers play at home Wednesday night at 7 p.m. on JP Sports against South Carolina. The Gamecocks and Tigers will meet for the 15th time with South Carolina holding a 9-5 advantage in the series. South Carolina has won the last two meetings, with LSU's last win coming in Columbia in 2000. USC leads the series in Baton Rouge, 3-2. Saturday, LSU travels to Auburn for a 3 p.m. contest. LSU leads the series, 71-53, with LSU winning both games a season ago. The series is tied at 29 wins apiece in games played at Auburn.

Ole Miss Rebels

Ole Miss will travel to Auburn Wednesday and will host Kentucky Saturday. The Tigers lead the all-time series 63-41, but the Rebels have won 4 of the last 6 encounters. Kentucky holds a commanding 88-11 lead in the series vs. Ole Miss. The Rebels have an 18-6 record vs. ranked opponents at Tad Smith Coliseum since the 1994-95 season. Ole Miss hosts nationally-ranked Kentucky Feb. 8. Junior Justin Reed tied 2 career highs last week. He blocked a career-high 4 shots vs. Mississippi State, and scored a career-high 26 points vs. Vanderbilt. The 12 FGs made vs. the Commodores were a career best. Senior Emmanuel Wade netted a career-high 24 points vs. Vanderbilt. He also posted a career-best 8 FGs made vs. the Commodores. The Rebels have lost all their SEC games by single digits. All four setbacks are by a combined 17 points or an average of 4.3 points per game. Ole Miss allowed its first opponent over 70 points this season when Vanderbilt scored 76 Feb. 1. The Rebels have held 5 of its 7 SEC foes under 60 points. Aaron Harper has 937 career points, needing 63 to become the 28th player in Ole Miss history to reach 1,000.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

After splitting a pair of league road decisions last week, the Bulldogs return to Humphrey Coliseum for a three-game SEC homestand. This week in Starkville, the Bulldogs will play host to Vanderbilt on Wednesday before welcoming Arkansas on Saturday. State is 25-10 at home versus league foes (2-1 this year) during the Stansbury era. Stansbury owns a 4-2 career mark versus Vanderbilt, including last year's 66-43 road win over the Commodores. The Bulldogs are 14-7 all-time against Vandy at Humphrey Coliseum (6-1 since 1989-90), including an 80-63 home win over VU two years ago. The last three State-Vandy meetings, including a 76-53 Vanderbilt win at the 2000 SEC Tournament, have been decided by an average margin of 21.0 points per game. Arkansas holds a 16-7 series lead over MSU, though State owns a 7-4 advantage in games contested in Starkville during that span. These two SEC West foes have split each of the last two regular-season series. Mario Austin became the 25th player in school history to eclipse the 1,000 career-point mark. Austin also made the Midseason Top 30 list of candidates for this year's prestigious John R. Wooden Award.

South Carolina Gamecocks

USC is 9-5 lifetime against LSU and has won the last 2 meetings. Kerbrell Brown, who will be returning his 'cajun' homeland of Louisiana (he is from New Orleans) to play in Baton Rouge on Wednesday, has had six straight games in double figure scoring. Freshman Tarence Kinsey had what the coaches hope was a break-out game for him vs. Kentucky on Saturday when he scored 10 points in 21 minutes. Dave Odom will be making his first-ever visit to LSU on Wednesday. USC, after defeating Ole Miss to open the SEC season, is 0-6. The Gamecocks shot a season-high 51.9% from the field against UK, but a season-low 11.1% from the three point line. USC had their second straight sellout versus Kentucky in The Carolina Center (Florida, Jan. 18). At the Carolina Coliseum, the largest crowd ever to see a Gamecock men's basketball game in Columbia was 12,783 when USC defeated Clemson on Feb., 2, 1991, a record that stood for almost 12 years. USC has already had seven crowds over that number in the new Center, with 17,038 for the Florida game being the season-high.

Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee will host the UMass Minutemen on Wednesday, Feb. 5. The Vols enter the UMass game with a two-game winning streak following a 60-56 win over South Carolina (Jan. 29) and a 60-56 win at Auburn (Feb. 1). Tennessee is 7-3 in non-conference games this season, including a 6-1 mark at home against non-SEC teams. Ten of Tennessee's 16 games have been decided by five points or less. The Vols are 6-4 in games decided by five points or less. Six games have been decided by one possession (three points or less). UT is 3-3 in games decided by a single possession. The Vols are 9-4 when leading at halftime. UT is 8-2 when leading with five minutes left in the game. Ron Slay, who has scored 20 or more points in a game 10 times this season, moved into 18th place on Tennessee's scoring lists with 1,313 career points. In SEC games, freshman point guard C.J. Watson ranks in a tie for second in the league in assists (4.3 apg) and 13th in rebounding (5.7 rpg) while also averaging 11.3 points on 50.0 percent shooting from the field and 46.2 percent from three-point range.

Vanderbilt Commodores

After topping No. 15 Georgia earlier in the week, Vanderbilt made it two in a row as the Commodores defeated Ole Miss, 76-68, Saturday night in Nashville. It was Head Coach Kevin Stallings' first win over the Rebels in four attempts and moved Vanderbilt to 10-8 overall and 3-4 in the SEC. The Commodores' 76 was the most points Ole Miss had given up in a game this season. Vanderbilt's 94 points versus Georgia this past Wednesday also was the most the Bulldogs' defense had allowed this season. Matt Freije capped a tremendous week with a team-high 20 points and five rebounds against Ole Miss after tallying a career-high 31 points and nine rebounds versus Georgia. Junior forward Scott Hundley also had a great week, setting a season-high with 14 points against Georgia and then eclipsing that mark with 18 points and adding a game-high seven boards versus Ole Miss. The Commodores were 25-of-31 from the free-throw line and Ole Miss was just 6-of-13. Vanderbilt next hits the road to take on Mississippi State Wednesday night in Starkville, Miss. The Commodores trail Mississippi State 26-22 all-time in Starkville and have lost the past four games at the Hump.

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