SEC Insider

EASTERN DIVISION
FLORIDA

Led by Anthony Roberson's 18 points, Florida cruised past Georgia, 70-47 Tuesday night in Gainesville in one of the most lopsided games in the history of the series.

The 23-point margin was the Gators' largest win against a Georgia team since 1996 and the third-largest since 1981.

Florida (12-4, 4-1) remains at home Saturday when it hosts South Carolina at noon on Jefferson Pilot Sports.

"South Carolina is coming off a good win over Vanderbilt, Wednesday night," said Gators coach Billy Donovan. "They have a lot of team speed and are very disruptive in the way they play. They shoot the three well and are good on both sides of the court."

GEORGIA
Playing without leading scorer Levi Stukes, the Bulldogs (7-9, 1-5) were little match for Florida on Wednesday, suffering a 70-47 setback in Gainesville.

Stukes, a sophomore averaging 16.3 points per game, missed Saturday's game against Vanderbilt with a sprained right ankle and was suspended for Wednesday's game for breaking an unspecified team rule.

Bulldogs coach Dennis Felton declined to comment on the reason for Stukes' suspension after the game and again during Thursday's SEC Coaches teleconference.

Georgia is on the road again Saturday when they play at No. 14 Alabama in a game scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip-off.

"Alabama is clearly one of the more established teams in the SEC right now," Felton said. "They are extremely experienced coming off last year's great season. They have all the parts that make an excellent team. They know how to win.

"This will be another big challenge for our team, but we are looking forward to it."

KENTUCKY
Patrick Sparks scored 19 points and Kelenna Azubuike added 17 to lead No. 7 Kentucky to an 84-62 victory against Tennessee on Tuesday night.

The Wildcats (15-2, 6-0) remain the only undefeated team in league play with the win and now get set for another road test this Saturday with a trip to Arkansas. The Wildcats and Razorbacks are scheduled to tip-off at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.

"We are going into a game that can present some problems because Arkansas is such a good defensive team," said Kentucky coach Tubby Smith. "They are back home after going to Starkville, which is a very tough place to play.

"Arkansas is playing better... (and) Bud Walton Arena and their fans are one of the greatest in all of college basketball."

Kentucky's Chuck Hayes will play Saturday despite a broken nose. But how effective he'll be remains to be seen. Hayes will wear a mask during the game to protect his injury.

"With Chuck Hayes' broken nose, we don't know how he will respond," Smith said.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Renaldo Balkman scored 15 points and South Carolina used a 16-0 second-half run to slide past Vanderbilt, 68-63, on Wednesday night.

The Gamecocks (11-6, 3-3) fell behind 51-40 under a barrage of threes from, the SEC's leader in three-point shooting. But then the Commodores went cold for nearly nine minutes of the second half and South Carolina, led by the lanky, quick Balkman, took advantage.

Up next for the Gamecocks is a road date with Florida.

"Florida is a team that has given us trouble since I have been the coach at South Carolina," said coach Dave Odom. "We have never beat them since I have been at South Carolina, so we have that mental hurdle as well as the hurdle of playing at Florida.

"...We do have some confidence right now, but it's very shaky. My team is very tough, but I really don't know what to make of my team right now."

TENNESSEE
Although they kept things close for the first 10 minutes of play, the Volunteers eventually were steamrolled, 84-62, by Kentucky on their home court Tuesday night.

Tennessee (10-9, 3-3) has now lost two in a row by a combined 45 points and six in a row in the series with the Wildcats.

Next up is a trip to Auburn at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

"We are trying to get back to where we were a week ago when we were playing good, solid basketball," said Vols coach Buzz Peterson. "Now we are going down to play a very scrappy Auburn team. They shoot a lot of three pointers and I'm sure they will be eager to get their first conference win.

"We just have to find a way and be ready to go without (Brandon) Crump in the lineup. These things happen during the season in college basketball. Somebody can sprain an ankle at any moment."

Crump -- Tennessee's starting center -- sprained his ankle in Saturday's 85-62 loss at Louisville and did not play against Kentucky.

VANDERBILT
Suddenly the Commodores are struggling in a big way.

Wednesday's 68-63 loss at South Carolina was the fourth setback in a row for Vanderbilt, the most since it lost eight straight during the 2002-03 season.

"We played about 30-32 minutes of good basketball on the road at South Carolina," said Vandy coach Kevin Stallings. "On the road on the SEC, that just won't get it done. We had some guys play well for us, but you have to play for a full 40 minutes, especially on the road, to win in this league.

Vanderbilt (11-8, 2-4) will look to right the ship Saturday when it hosts Ole Miss.

"Mississippi has been playing very well recently," Stallings said. "They have been ahead in all the recent games they have played. We will have to play a full 40 minutes on Saturday."

WESTERN DIVISION
ALABAMA

The Crimson Tide (16-3, 5-1) got a little more than they asked for Wednesday night. In its first game since skyrocketing up to No. 14 in the latest Associated Press poll, Alabama had to fight off a young bunch of Auburn Tigers before nipping the Plainsmen, 60-55 in Auburn.

Earnest Shelton scored 22 points and made five late 3-pointers to lead Alabama, which saw a 15-point lead cut down to one in the second half.

"It's going to be nice to be back at home after being on the road for a couple of games," said Tide coach Mark Gottfreid. "Georgia gave us a real fight last year. Our guys have to be ready to play and they know that."

Alabama hosts Georgia on Saturday.

ARKANSAS
The Razorbacks (14-5, 2-4) had their first week off since starting SEC play and now turn their attention to No. 7-ranked Kentucky.

The Wildcats visit Bud Walton Arena on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in a game being televised nationally by CBS.

"We've used the bye-week to try to improve in some areas that will help us get to that next level," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath. "I think we are very close to accomplishing that.

Heath said his team will have to be at it's best, though, to defeat the top team in the conference.

"Kentucky is playing the game better than anybody else in the league right now," Heath said. "For us, we are going to have to do a good job rebounding if we are going to have any chance on Saturday."

AUBURN
A hard-fought effort wasn't enough Wednesday as the Tigers were downed, 60-55, at home against rival Alabama.

"We have to get the pieces back together after an emotional loss to Alabama and start preparing for Tennessee," said Auburn coach Jeff Lebo. "They will have a size advantage whether or not (Brandon) Crump plays or not."

Auburn (9-9, 0-5) has now lost five in a row and remains the only team in the SEC without a league win.

The Tigers host Tennessee on Saturday.

LSU
Brandon Bass scored eight of his 14 points in the final 3:40 and finished with 11 rebounds and five blocks to lead LSU past Mississippi, 70-60 on Wednesday night.

LSU (10-6, 3-2) was coming off its worst loss in three years -- 89-58 at Kentucky on Saturday.

"I was proud of my team for responding the way we did after the way we played against Kentucky last weekend," Tigers coach John Brady. "We really clamped down on defense the last 12 minutes of the game. We got offensive rebounds and were able to get to the foul line.

"I have a lot of respect for Ole Miss and the way they play."

LSU hosts Mississippi State on Saturday, where the Tigers are 10-1 this season.

"Mississippi State will be a real challenge, but we are glad we are playing this game at home," said Brady.

MISSISSIPPI STATE
The Bulldogs (16-4, 4-2) joined Arkansas as the two SEC teams who did not have a midweek game heading into the weekend.

Mississippi State is back on the road Saturday with a trip to LSU.

"We know Saturday will be a very difficult game," said Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury. "They have four starters returning from last year. They have size and they have strength.

"They have a ton of experience. We know how difficult it will be, but we are looking forward to the challenge."

OLE MISS
Despite leading 36-34 at the half and taking a 10-point lead with 17 minutes to play, Ole Miss wasn't able to hold on, falling against LSU, 70-60 on Wednesday.

The Rebels were led by Tommie Eddie with 15 points and Londrick Nolen, who scored 12.

Ole Miss (11-9, 2-5) travels to Nashville to play Vanderbilt on Saturday.

"We are on the road again. It will be a tough task going to Vanderbilt," said Rebels coach Rod Barnes. "They have a good team and we will have to play well.

"We have been playing teams tough but then struggle the last five minutes of the game. We have to work on playing well and finishing it and trying to get back in the win column."

Ole Miss carries a three-game losing skid into Saturday's contest.


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