SEC Insider

EAST DIVISION
FLORIDA

Anthony Roberson scored 10 of his season-high 34 points in overtime, leading Florida to an 84-78 win over Auburn Wednesday night.

Roberson and David Lee hit two free throws apiece in the final 39 seconds as the Gators (10-3, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) have won their first two league games for the fifth consecutive season.

The Gators stay on the road Saturday when they visit Vanderbilt at 2 p.m. in a game being televised by Jefferson Pilot Sports.

"Right now I think Vanderbilt is one of those teams that are playing exceptional basketball," said Florida coach Billy Donovan. "When you talk about shooting the basketball as well as they have, it's truly remarkable. They are a basketball team that is multi-dimensional. They have so much balance and so many people that can step up for them."

GEORGIA
The Bulldogs are one of only two SEC teams -- along with Auburn -- still searching for their first conference win after Ole Miss pulled out a 59-54 win against Georgia in Oxford Wednesday.

Steve Newman had a career high 19 points for Georgia, including 17 in the second half. Channing Toney added 18 points and the duo combined for all but two of Georgia's 31 second-half points.

Levi Stukes, who had averaged 21 points in Georgia's previous six starts, was limited to four points and was 0 of 8 from the field.

Now just 6-7 overall and 0-3 in the SEC, things won't get much easier for the Bulldogs as they play host to Kentucky Saturday at noon on Jefferson Pilot Sports.

"We are always excited to play, but you get especially excited to play teams that are ahead of you and enjoy a great status like Kentucky does," said Georgia coach Dennis Felton. "They are deep in talent and are very well coached and have an incredible skill level. Coach Smith is doing a great job of teaching those young guys how to play."

KENTUCKY
Freshman guard Rajon Rondo scored a career-high 18 points and fueled a late run as No. 9 Kentucky pulled away for a 69-54 victory against Vanderbilt on Wednesday.

The Wildcats (11-2, 2-0) remained perfect in 28 games against Vanderbilt at Rupp Arena, dating to the 1976-77 season.

Kentucky shot 57.8 percent in the win, by far its best outing of the season.

The Wildcats next visit Georgia Saturday.

"As we go into this game against Georgia, they are improving and Dennis Felton teams always play hard and play smart," said Kentucky coach Tubby Smith. "We better come with one of our better games."

SOUTH CAROLINA
The Gamecocks couldn't overcome a 16-3 LSU run in the second half, losing to the Tigers in Baton Rouge, 79-64, on Wednesday.

South Carolina, which shot 50 percent or better from the field in the past four games, did it again against the Tigers, shooting (26-of-52). But LSU managed to shoot 58 percent in the second half to offset the Gamecocks' hot hand from the floor.

Carlos Powell led South Carolina with 16 points. Tre' Kelley added 11 and Tarence Kinsey scored 10.

"We had a difficult trip (Wednesday) night against LSU," said Gamecocks coach Dave Odom. "We were completely dominated inside. They dominated us on both ends of the court inside.

"We have to go back to work."

South Carolina (9-5, 1-2) hosts Tennessee at 6 p.m. Saturday.

TENNESSEE
Scooter McFadgon scored 14 points and Brandon Crump added 12 and Tennessee ended the nation's longest road winning streak with a 64-63 victory over No. 11 Mississippi State on Wednesday.

Before the loss, the Bulldogs had won 16 consecutive road games.

"We didn't really look at that, they had won 16 in a row," said Tennessee coach Buzz Peterson. "We wanted to come out and play with intensity and toughness. We knew they were going to make a run with a great player like Lawrence Roberts. It was important that we got off to a good start."

The Volunteers (9-6, 2-1), who had lost in their last game by 25 points at home to Vanderbilt, led nearly the entire game to snap the Bulldogs' eight-game overall winning streak.

Tennessee hits the road Saturday to play South Carolina at 6 p.m.

"It's always been a challenge for us to play well there (in Columbia)," Peterson said. "They do a tremendous job. They are very aggressive on the defensive end. After last night they are really going to come after us."

VANDERBILT
The Commodores (11-5, 2-1) saw their seven-game winning streak come to halt Wednesday with a 69-54 loss at Kentucky.

Vanderbilt, who had made 30 of 57 3-pointers in their last two games -- wins over Alabama and Tennessee -- went 9 of 30 from behind the arc against the Wildcats.

"I think it was a mixed bag. Some shots were very contested and some were wide open," said Commodores coach Kevin Stallings. "I just think it was a mixture where we made some with a hand in our face and missed some when we were naked. They guarded us well.

"They are a great defensive team."

Vanderbilt hosts Florida Saturday. The Commodores are 10-0 at home so far this season.

"We're excited about our team. We feel we didn't play well last night, but Kentucky had a lot to do with that," said Stallings. "Hopefully we can take advantage of these two days off and prepare for Florida."

WEST DIVISION
ALABAMA

Crimson Tide coach Mark Gottfreid picked up his 200th career victory Tuesday as No. 21 Alabama held off Arkansas, 64-61, in Fayetteville.

"I don't think it really mattered (winning No. 200 on the road), and to be honest I haven't paid attention to that," Gottfreid said. "I think our team has handled it a lot better, we have won five out of our last 10 games (on the road). Our players are learning how to be mentally tough. It's a combination of all those things."

Alabama trailed 33-24 late in the first half before closing with a 10-0 run before intermission.

"I thought it was a key part of the game," Gottfreid said. "I don't think it is anything different we were doing. You have to play hard. You have to make or succeed your opponents play level. That's something that we try to do. We don't always do it, but we try to do that."

The Tide are off this weekend before hosting Mississippi State Tuesday.

ARKANSAS
The Razorbacks couldn't hold onto a nine-point first half lead, losing to Alabama, 64-61 on Tuesday, when Eric Ferguson's 3-point attempt just before the buzzer came up short.

"It was our inability to make a shot or get the ball inside," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath, referring to Alabama's big run late in the first half and early in the second. "The same time defensively we didn't get the stops we needed. We were very tentative and trying to feel our way around, and didn't make things happen. We have to get that corrected. We can't have lapses of time like that."

Arkansas (13-3, 1-2) visits Mississippi State at 1 p.m. Saturday.

"We have a real tough streak in front of us," Heath said. "'The Hump' is one of the toughest places to play in our league and I am sure Mississippi State is stinging a bit from the close game (Wednesday) night. They will be very hungry when they come out on Saturday. It's very important we get off to a good start and try to take as much of the crowd out of the game as we can."

AUBURN
The Tigers pushed Florida to the limit Wednesday before dropping an 84-78 decision in overtime.

"We are just at such a different stage in our program than anyone else in the league," said Auburn coach Jeff Lebo. "We are so limited in so many ways. We have the smallest team in Division I, but the kids have been resilient. It's a bit of a smoke and mirror job. We have had to be creative and do things very differently.

"We battled pretty hard and had a chance to win, but fatigue was a big factor in that game."

Auburn (9-6, 0-2) plays host to Ole Miss Saturday, looking to avoid a three-game losing streak.

"Ole Miss is a very good team, and they are getting back to playing the style of basketball that Coach Barnes believes in," said Lebo. "They are tough defensively, and offensively they shoot the ball well from three. It will be a tough matchup for us."

LSU
Glen Davis scored 28 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead LSU to a 79-64 victory against South Carolina on Wednesday.

It was the seventh game the LSU freshman scored in double figures, and his second double-double of the season.

LSU (7-5, 1-1) had not played at home in a month before Wednesday's game.

"We probably just played our best game of the year to this point," said Tigers coach John Brady. "It was good to get back and play one on campus. Our freshman Glen Davis had a great game."

The Tigers stay at home Saturday to play host to Ohio State at 6 p.m. LSU has already used an SEC-slated date to play one nonconference game, a 69-55 loss at Utah on Jan. 3.

I don't have any philosophy about that (scheduling)," Brady said. "I just wanted a good out of conference game at home. The Utah game was a comparable date from a year ago, and we asked the SEC and they accommodated us. Hopefully, playing against better teams like that will make us better going down the SEC schedule."

MISSISSIPPI STATE
Despite 22 points and 13 rebounds from Lawrence Roberts, Mississippi State (14-3, 2-1) couldn't pull off the comeback win Wednesday, falling at Tennessee, 64-63.

The loss was the Bulldogs first on the road in 17 games.

State returns home Saturday as Arkansas visits Humphrey Coliseum for a 1 p.m. contest.

"We know that Arkansas is a much improved basketball team, and they have great depth," said Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury. "They have gotten much better and it will be a difficult game for us on Saturday."

OLE MISS
Todd Abernethy scored 13 points to help Mississippi to its first conference win of the season with a 59-54 victory against Georgia on Wednesday.

Marvin Moore came off the bench to add 10 points for the Rebels (10-6, 1-2), who needed a steal, a defensive rebound and a clinching free throw from Nunnery in the final 30 seconds to seal the win.

The Rebels visit Auburn Saturday at 3 p.m.

"We are definitely feeling better about ourselves after a tough game with Georgia," said Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes. "Your first concern with Auburn is Toney Douglas. I think depth has been a factor with them, but they play a good brand of basketball.

"Every game we play will be challenge for us."


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