SEC Insider


Outscoring your opponent 28-3 to start a half of basketball will almost always get the job done. And that's exactly what the Gators did Wednesday as Anthony Roberson scored 20 points and helped spur the 28-3 run to start the second half in Florida's 90-53 rout of Ole Miss.

Roberson and Matt Walsh combined for seven 3-pointers in the first 15 minutes as the Gators (16-6, 8-3) jumped out to a 38-19 first-half lead.

It was the second largest win in series history for the Gators, who beat the Rebels 94-47 in 1993.

Florida is back on the road Saturday to play LSU at 2 p.m. on Jefferson Pilot Sports.

"LSU is a team that is coming off a great win at Mississippi State (Wednesday) night," Gators coach Billy Donovan said. "They have tremendous presence down low with (Glen) Davis and (Brandon) Bass. They are very physical and a very strong team. They have some guys that can hit some outside shots.

"With them coming off that great road victory last night, we know they will be ready to play when we go in there Saturday."

The Bulldogs took a break from SEC play this week, but the results weren't any better as Georgia dropped a 59-42 decision against Clemson on Wednesday, giving coach Dennis Felton's team seven losses in a row.

Georgia (7-15, 1-10) played just five scholarship players against the Tigers and were forced to use walk-on guards Jay McAuley and Kevin Brophy for more than 37 minutes each.

The Bulldogs are back home Saturday when they play host to Auburn.

"Coach (Jeff) Lebo has done a tremendous job of finding ways to make Auburn compete," Felton said. "They are hard to defend. They play with five guards and they all can shoot. They can compete with anybody and can beat good teams, as they have shown already this season."

The big blue monster finally came crashing to the ground.

After climbing to No. 3 in the latest Associated Press polls thanks to a 10-0 start in conference play, it seemed as if Kentucky was almost unstoppable. Then came Tuesday night's visit to South Carolina, where the Wildcats headed home with a 73-61 loss.

Kentucky entered the contest with a 19-game winning streak against SEC opponents. But with a season-high 21 turnovers and Chuck Hayes' off night -- held to just one point -- the Wildcats were doomed from the start.

Kentucky will look to regroup Saturday when it hosts Mississippi State at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

"We are trying to shake the loss we had to South Carolina," said Wildcats coach Tubby Smith. "Mississippi State will bring a new challenge. It looks like they are still looking for some chemistry, even with Winsome Frazier back. That takes time. I've been very impressed with Shane Power. We will have to work on some things to be ready for this game. Lawrence Roberts poses a huge threat in the post."

Dave Odom's biggest win as coach at South Carolina perhaps came Tuesday when his Gamecocks (14-8, 6-5) upset No. 3 Kentucky, 73-61. And it happened just four days after his team was shocked at home, 74-71, by Auburn.

It was the first home win for the Gamecocks against the Wildcats since 1997 and just South Carolina's sixth victory in 41 meetings against Kentucky.

The challenge now for Odom is to quickly bring his troops back down off cloud nine, as a trip to Alabama looms on Saturday.

"Tuesday was a great win for us, but our biggest challenge is to get them to understand one game does not affect the other," Odom said. "Someone asked me how I am going to get my team ready to play Alabama after beating Kentucky. My answer is Alabama is a very Kentucky-like team. Alabama has the best starting five in the league."

The Volunteers (11-13, 4-7) were off during the middle part of this week after suffering two home losses against Alabama and Florida last week.

Tennessee heads back out on the road Saturday with a trip to Ole Miss.

"We are looking forward to the game at Ole Miss," said Vols coach Buzz Peterson. "Ole Miss is a very physical, tough, man-to-man team. They play very well at home. They are coming off a big loss and will be fired up and ready to play. Both teams are looking for wins.

"This has been the first time we've had a week off in a long time. We can't look at wins and losses. We just have to look forward."

Corey Smith scored 19 points to lead Vanderbilt to a 67-43 victory at Auburn on Wednesday.

The Commodores (15-10, 5-6) are still in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament bid, but can't afford many more losses. And with Arkansas visiting Nashville on Saturday, expect Vandy to consider this one a must-have game.

"We are very pleased to get a tough road victory at Auburn," said Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings. "It was a win that we desperately needed. I was very proud of our team. We were down early and at the half, but we came out in the second half and won the game going away.

"The game against Arkansas this weekend is one that is very important to both teams."


Chuck Davis might have had a bout with the flu earlier this week. But against Arkansas on Wednesday, he made sure the Razorbacks were the ones feeling ill by the end of the night.

An ailing Davis scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half as No. 16 Alabama overcame a one-point halftime deficit and pulled away for a 72-63 win.

The Crimson Tide (20-4, 9-2) have now posted back-to-back 20-win seasons with Wednesday's victory.

Alabama remains at home Saturday to play host to South Carolina at 2 p.m.

"We are playing a team with a lot of confidence right now," said Crimson Tide coach Mark Gottfried. "I think South Carolina made believers out of a lot of people Tuesday night with their win over Kentucky. My guys know how good they are and they will be ready to play."

For a half, Arkansas appeared ready to get the signature win it so desperately needed.

Then Alabama fired back with some pressure defense and the Hogs had no answer, dropping a 72-63 decision in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday.

The Razorbacks (17-8, 5-7) are now probably in a must-win situation from here on out if they hope to make the NCAA Tournament. Saturday, Arkansas visits Vanderbilt at 6 p.m.

"This is a huge game for us. Going on the road is always tough for everybody. This will be the first time a lot of my players have gone to Vanderbilt and played in that unique environment," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath. "We will have to do a good job of preparing for what they do in their offense. Vanderbilt is not your conventional basketball arena. It's a great home-court advantage for Vanderbilt"

Less than a week after picking up its first SEC road win of the season at South Carolina, Auburn fell back down to earth Wednesday with a 67-43 loss at home against Vanderbilt.

The Tigers (12-12, 3-8) on-again, off-again show takes to the road Saturday when the Plainsmen travel to Georgia.

"This is a very tough stretch in the schedule for us right now," said Auburn coach Jeff Lebo. "This will be our third road game in the last four games. Georgia has done a good job buying into Coach Felton's philosophy."

Brandon Bass had 21 points and a career-high 17 rebounds as LSU slipped past Mississippi State, 80-72, Wednesday night in Starkville, snapping the Bulldogs' 12-game home winning streak in the process.

The Tigers (14-8, 7-4) won just its second road game this season and moved into second place in the SEC West behind Alabama with the win.

"Our team played well at Mississippi State," said LSU coach John Brady. "They were ready to play, but so were we. We needed to get a road win against a quality team, and Mississippi State is definitely that. Now we have two at home starting with Florida on Saturday. They are playing very well right now and will be a tremendous challenge for us to be in a position to win the game, even though we are at home."

Suddenly the Bulldogs are looking more like a team on the NCAA bubble than a squad guaranteed of a spot in the tournament.

With Wednesday's 80-72 home loss against LSU, Mississippi State now has just a 6-5 record in SEC play. And with nine, or maybe 10 wins more than likely needed to make the tourney, the Bulldogs can't afford too many more defeats.

Getting a victory this weekend will be tough, though, as MSU visits Kentucky -- a team coming off its first SEC loss of the season.

"It's never easy to go to Rupp Arena, not just because of the environment, but they are also a very good basketball team," said Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury. "We are both coming off a loss, so they should be mad as hornets when we get in there on Saturday.

"We have to hope Kentucky is off their game a little bit in order for us to have a chance to win this game."

Normally sound on defense this year, the Rebels apparently left that part of their game back home when Florida lit up Ole Miss for a 90-53 win in Gainesville on Wednesday.

Florida sank 64 percent of its shots against Ole Miss and finished 11 of 17 from 3-point range, including hitting nine straight 3's over one 30-minute stretch.

Ole Miss (12-13, 3-9) had allowed more than 73 points only once all season.

Now the Rebels sit in last place in the SEC Western Division as they get ready for a 4 p.m. showdown with Tennessee on Saturday.

"This has been a tough stretch for us. We will have our work cut out for us against Tennessee," Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes. "We are in need of some confidence right now. We have to find more ways to score the basketball. Our two leading scorers are not playing very well right now and this is not a good time for that to happen."

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