Davis Likely Choice As Top SEC Player

FAYETTEVILLE -- LSU center Glen Davis leads Arkansas guard Ronnie Brewer just 18.5 to 18.4 in the Southeastern Conference scoring-average race going into this closing weekend, but Davis appears to have a clear edge in the SEC Player of the Year reckoning.

Both LSU coach John Brady and Arkansas coach Stan Heath praised Davis this week.

"I don't think anyone in the league is close to the consistency Glen has had," Brady said.

Heath, while partial to Brewer, said, "I'm biased toward the best player on the conference champion. Ronnie has the numbers, but Davis' team won the league."

Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl has said essentially the same thing.

Heath reminded, however, "There's also an award for the outstanding player in the SEC Tournament next week."

Brewer was the SEC Preseason Player of the Year, but no player given that recognition has ever won the actual award in the same season, since the preseason honor was established.

'Guards Are Us'The top five scorers on the Georgia team that Arkansas will play on Sunday are guards.

Levi Stukes, a 6-2 junior, leads the Bulldogs with 12.0 points per game. Freshman reserve Mike Mercer, 6-4, is next at 11.0, followed by 6-1 sophomores Sundiata Gaines (10.4), Channing Toney (8.6) and 6-2 freshman sub Billy Humphrey (8.5).

Arkansas guard Eric Ferguson remembered Toney from last season."He ate us up," Ferguson said.

Toney scored 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting in Georgia's 62-47 loss at Arkansas last year.

Quiet Effiency
Since losing his starting role at point guard following a five-turnover game in Arkansas' 73-70 loss at Ole Miss, Hogs senior Dontell Jefferson has played almost error-free basketball.

Jefferson has had 12 assists and one turnover in 40 minutes of playing time during Arkansas' four-game winning streak since the Ole Miss debacle.

He started on senior night against Mississippi State, and will perhaps feel special again on Sunday in Athens, Ga., as he plays 52 miles from his hometown of Lithonia, Ga.

Georgia's Senior Day festivities shouldn't take long. Jay McAuley, a 6-1 guard, is the only senior on the Bulldogs' roster. He's played in just seven games, with a 0.4 scoring average.

Odom's Gaffe
South Carolina coach Dave Odom was asked this week to reflect on University Hall, the soon-to-be-vacated University of Virginia basketball building where he once worked as an assistant to former Virginia coach Terry Holland.

"When I first got to Virginia I was told to report to U-Hall," Odom recalled. "I thought it was a U-Haul business."

The Streak
The current four-game Arkansas winning streak marks only the second SEC winning streak of longer than two games under Heath. The Razorbacks had a three-game conference winning streak last season.

Heath was asked if the loss to Ole Miss was the catalyst.

"That was a wake-up call," he allowed. "There wasn't any panic, but there was urgency. We had to get urgent about everything. I think our guys realized that nobody was going to lie down for us on the road -- especially at Ole Miss. There's a huge rivalry there, with all their Arkansas kids.

"We came back home and built a wall around ourselves, because the air wasn't smelling too good."

Score One For Media
Brady is one coach who believes media folks are better fitted to vote in polls and for award winners than coaches.

"I think writers are more inclined to know what's going on than coaches," Brady said. "Coaches can get a little jaded. I think some (coaches) vote for some guys (for All-Conference) so this guy won't make it. I've never done that."

Brady, by the way, called Arkansas "one of the most consistent teams" and said the SEC should get six teams in the NCAA Tournament.

"We may get seven, with Vanderbilt (16-10, 7-8 SEC)," Brady said. "Early in the year, people said the SEC was a three-team league."

One That Got Away
LSU guard Darrel Mitchell of St. Martinville, La., who might have siphoned off many of Davis' Player of the Year votes had he not been slowed by injury recently, is third in the SEC in scoring at 17.8.

"We tried to recruit Mitchell early at Arkansas, after I first arrived," Heath said. "We threw our hat in the ring. But he stayed home and I understand that."

It's Abøut Seeding
Hogs forward Charles Thomas said Heath challenged the Razorbacks to keep advancing after their 80-70 win over Mississippi State.

"He was talking about (NCAA Tournament) seeding after the game," Thomas said. "He said now we're playing for seeding."

Arkansas is also playing for its 10th SEC win -- a total not surpassed by any Hogs team since the 1997-98 bunch went 11-5. Arkansas' 2000-2001 team went 10-6 in the SEC.

Heath's Kent State team that went 30-6 in 2001-02 and made the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament was a No. 12 seed in that tourney.




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