ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
The Crimson Tide goes into the weekend's round of play with a 14-3 overall and 3-1 SEC record, leading the SEC West after its 98-49 home win against Mississippi State on Tuesday night. Earnest Shelton scored a career best 34 points in that game, making 13 of 22 shots from the field, including 5 (of 11) from 3-point range. Also leading the effort was Kennedy Winston with 24 points. It marked the 20th time Winston has scored 20 or more points at Alabama. And Chuck Davis didn't miss a shot collecting his 14 points, shooting 4 of 4 from the field (1 of 1 from 3-point range) and 5 of 5 at the line. Alabama made 90% of its free throws (18 of 20). The Tide will want that momentum heading into its next hurdle, the Ole Miss Rebels. This is a series of late where the home team dominates. Alabama has not won in Oxford since 1997 (it lost the last 7 times it's played there) and Ole Miss hasn't won in Tuscaloosa since 1998. Alabama is averaging 80.8 points 17 games into the season and its making its shots. Alabama's .567% from the field against Mississippi State on Tuesday marked the eighth time this season it has shot 50 percent or better from the field.
Ronnie Brewer had 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals in Wednesday's overtime loss at LSU. That marked the eighth time this year he's had a minimum stat line of 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in a game. Senior Michael Jones started at LSU for the first time this season and just the seventh time in his career. He responded with a season-high 15 points in a season-high 29 minutes. In the game at LSU, Arkansas limited the Tigers to 36.7 percent shooting, marking the first time in 11 games this year UA lost when holding an opponent below the 40 percent mark. Ronnie Brewer scored just seven points at Mississippi State on last Saturday, the first game this season he has failed to reach double figures. Arkansas is now 0-3 against ranked teams with losses to then-No. 3 Illinois, No. 21 Alabama and No. 11 Mississippi State. Seven-foot freshman Steven Hill had a game-high three blocked shots at MSU. His 50 blocks are the most for a Razorback since Nick Davis had 80 in 1998. As a team, UA has 115 blocked shots this year. Last year, the Razorbacks had 108 for the season.
Auburn will already have its second and final open date since the start of SEC play Jan. 5 following the Ole Miss game. In fact, the Tigers only play two SEC games in 16 days. After opening the season at Mississippi State Jan. 5, the Tigers did not play Jan. 8, played host to Florida Jan. 12 and then Ole Miss Jan. 15. The Tigers had a week off before playing at Arkansas Saturday, Jan. 22. That's two open dates for the Tigers before playing their fourth SEC game. Auburn's Toney Douglas is not only leading the SEC in scoring, but he is also averaging more points than any other freshman in the nation this season. This is the 29th meeting between the Tigers and Razorbacks with Arkansas holding a 17-11 series lead. The Tigers have an 8-5 series edge in Auburn (all at BEMC) and are 2-11 in Fayetteville, including a 1-10 mark in Bud Walton Arena. The teams are 1-1 at neutral sites. Auburn has won three out of the last four games in the series. Auburn's 0-3 start in SEC play is the Tigers worst since going 0-10 in league play in 1993-94. In SEC play, Auburn is allowing its opponents to shoot 56.6 percent from the field and 48.9 percent from 3-point range. Six of Auburn's seven losses this season have come by a combined 29 points, an average of 4.8 points per loss and two of them came in overtime.
Florida rallied from 10 points down with under eight minutes to go to force overtime against Tennessee, but came up short in the extra frame, falling 83-76. Anthony Roberson had a game-high 26 points including a three-pointer with seven seconds remaining to knot the game at 70 and force overtime. It was Roberson's third consecutive game of 25+ points. David Lee had 11 points and 13 rebounds while Al Horford also added 13 rebounds as UF had a commanding 42-30 on the glass. Florida lost at home to Tennessee for the first time since 2000. Roberson is averaging 26.3 points per game in league play and a team-high 18.4 overall on the season. David Lee has had back-to-back double-doubles on the season and has four on the season. He is averaging 11.3 rebounds in SEC play. The tandem of Lee and Horford is averaging 20.6 rebounds per game during SEC play as the Gators are out-rebounding league opponents by 8.8 boards per game. Matt Walsh made his return seeing 13 minutes of action after missing four games with a syndesmotic ankle sprain. UF is off until Tuesday when Georgia visits the O'Connell Center for a nationally-televised tilt on ESPN2.
Georgia enjoyed its only "bye" date in the SEC schedule this week. The Bulldogs are using their only other mid-week vacancy to play ACC foe Clemson in Greenville, S.C., on Feb. 16. Georgia will enter Saturday's home game against Vanderbilt trying to snap a season-long 5-game losing streak. It is still seeking its first SEC victory, the first time in seven years a Bulldog team has dropped its first four conference games. The Dogs will play the remainder of the season without walk-on Alex Evans, who was diagnosed last week with a torn patella tendon in his right knee. Evans, a 6-4 freshman, had played in 10 of Georgia's first 14 games. Redshirt freshman Corey Gibbs expects to return to active duty this week after missing the past five games with a bone bruise in his left knee. Georgia's 18 rebounds against Kentucky last Saturday marked its lowest total in 17 years, going back to a Feb. 1988 game against Alabama in which the Bulldogs pulled down just 15 boards in a 67-54 win. Freshman guard Channing Toney now leads the SEC in free throw accuracy. He would be the first Georgia since Dick McIntosh in 1968 to lead the league.
Kentucky outrebounded Ole Miss 15-0 in the last 12:55 of Wednesday night's win in Oxford. Eight of those 15 rebounds came on the offensive glass. Kentucky has rallied from double-digit halftime deficits on the road twice this year (Down 16 at Louisville; down 13 at Ole Miss). The last time the Cats did that twice in a season was during the 1998 NCAA tournament title run (vs. Duke and Utah). Kentucky starts league play 4-0 for the second time in three seasons and has won 10-straight SEC regular-season games and 13-consecutive games vs. SEC teams. Kentucky has won 15-consecutive regular-season games against teams from the West, dating back to the 2001-02 season. The Wildcats return home to face LSU Saturday at 1 p.m. on CBS, before three consecutive road trips. Freshman Rajon Rondo led the team in scoring with 13 points, while Kelenna Azubuike added 11 and Chuck Hayes had 10. Chuck Hayes has 1,016 career points, moving him pat Ron Mercer and into 49th place on the all-time charts at UK. He had four offensive rebounds in the crucial second half, bringing his total to 10 for the game. He added four assists. Freshman Ramel Bradley went down after a hard foul in the first half. He was diagnosed with a mild concussion and did not return to the game. He had four points and two rebounds in the first half.
The Tigers have won three straight after Wednesday's overtime win over Arkansas, 66-63, at the Pete Maravich Center. Glen Davis, chosen as the ESPN Diaper Dandy of the Week on Tuesday by Dick Vitale for his performance against South Carolina (1-12) and Ohio State (1-15), had another strong game with 26 points and a career high 18 rebounds. Brandon Bass also added 15 points. It was the second straight overtime victory for LSU (9-5, 2-1 Southeastern Conference). The Tigers beat Ohio State in double overtime last Saturday. The Tigers play Saturday at Kentucky on CBS. Kentucky leads the series, 74-21, and the teams will meet in Lexington for the 41st time. Wildcats have won the last four years in the single regular season meeting. LSU's last win in Rupp Arena was in 1989 when the Tigers won, 64-62. Included in Kentucky's nine straight wins in Lexington is a win in the 1993 SEC Championship game. Tigers return home next week for two games -- Wednesday against Ole Miss (7 p.m.) and Saturday for a JP Sports regional telecast against Mississippi State (2 p.m.).
OLE MISS REBELS
A winner in nine of its last 12 games, Ole Miss faces its second straight top-25 opponent at home Saturday in No. 22 Alabama. The Crimson Tide holds a 107-46 lead in the series, which began in 1921. In the last 13 meetings between the Rebels and Tide, the home team has prevailed. The Rebels saw their two-game SEC win streak snapped and their upset bid of No. 8 Kentucky fall short in a 53-50 loss to the Wildcats Wednesday. Ole Miss led by as much as 15 and was ahead until the final 3:41. For the fifth time this season, the Rebels held an opponent in the 30s in shooting percentage, as the Wildcats were limited to 37.3 percent, including a 20.8 clip in the first half. UK was also held to its lowest scoring output of the year. Senior forward Tommie Eddie topped the Rebels with 14 points, 6 rebounds and a career-high 5 steals. Junior forward and leading scorer Londrick Nolen scored in double-figures for the 13th time in the last 15 games with 12 along with 5 boards and 2 assists. Ole Miss evened its record with a 79-72 road win at Auburn, last Saturday. The victory snapped a nine-game SEC road losing streak, and improved the Rebels to 3-1 overall in their last road contests.
MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS
The 15-4 Bulldogs look to bounce back from their worst defeat in a dozen years by entertaining South Carolina on Saturday. Tuesday's 98-49 road setback at No. 22 Alabama marked the largest margin of defeat for an MSU team since the 1992-93 State squad dropped a program-worst 115-58 road decision to Arkansas at Barnhill Arena. The Bulldogs have not dropped back-to-back decisions since postseason tournament play two years ago (2003 SEC & NCAA Tournaments). MSU owns a nine-game home winning streak, including a 7-0 home mark this season, in a streak that dates back to last February. The Bulldogs have outscored their home opposition by an average margin of 25.2 points per outing at Humphrey Coliseum this season. State has prevailed in each of the last four MSU-USC regular-season series meetings and owns a 9-5 all-time series lead over the Gamecocks since they joined the SEC. The average scoring margin in the MSU-USC series since Rick Stansbury took over State's coaching duties in 1998 has been 6.4 points per game, with the Bulldogs holding a 5-2 series lead during that seven-year span. En route to making a school-record 18 regular-season TV appearances this season, MSU will have nine of its last 11 SEC games televised.
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS
After a week off, South Carolina will travel to No. 17 Mississippi State Saturday, Jan. 22 for a 6 pm EST game before retuning home to host Vanderbilt on Wednesday, Jan. 26 at 8 pm. The game in Starkville will be shown on FSN. USC is coming off a 66-63 win over Tennessee on Jan. 15. The Gamecocks had Wednesday night off, while Mississippi State traveled to Alabama Tuesday and were beaten rather soundly, 98-49. Mississippi State leads the series 9-5 against USC and holds a 5-1 mark in Starkville. USC's only win in Starkville came in the 1996-97 season when Carolina won 73-65 and captured the SEC title. Two of the last three meetings in Starkville have been decided by six points or less with last year's game needing overtime for MSU to come away with a win (79-75). USC plays its fourth ranked team this year at No. 17 MSU on Saturday. Eight games for Carolina has been decided by four points or less. USC is 4-4 in those games with three of the four losses being on the road to top 10 opponents while the other loss was to in-state rival Clemson in overtime at home on a last second shot.
Tennessee will take a break from its SEC schedule when the Vols meet Louisville at 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky. ESPN will televise the game nationally. The Louisville game will mark the Vols' third consecutive road game, UT's longest road stretch since the 1998-99 season when the Vols traveled to Mississippi, South Carolina and Georgia consecutively. The Vols improved to 10-7 on the season and 3-2 in SEC play with an 83-76 overtime victory at Florida on Wednesday. It was just Tennessee's second win at the O'Connell Center in their last 14 visits. Scooter McFadgon led the Vols with 23 points while Chris Lofton made 6-of-10 3-pointers for 22 points. Lofton started overtime off by hitting a pair of 3-pointers and then McFadgon sealed the win by going 5-of-6 from the free throw line in the final 47 seconds. McFadgon leads the Vols with 16.3 points per game. Brandon Crump is averaging 11.7 points and is second on the team with 5.6 rebounds per game. Lofton is leading the SEC in 3-point percentage (51.7 percent) and ranks third on the team with 11.9 points. C.J. Watson is averaging 11.5 points and a team-high 5.2 assists per game.
Shan Foster scored a career-high 18 points hitting a personal-best 6-of-9 3-point attempts against Florida in Vanderbilt's 82-65 setback against the Gators on last Saturday. The loss snapped an 11-game home court win streak for the Commodores dating back to last season. Jason Holwerda (11), Mario Moore (10) and Dawid Przybyszewski (10) also reached double figures in scoring. Holwerda converted 5-of-7 from the field where he is shooting 69.7 percent (23-of-33) over the last five games. Moore, who is averaging 3.8 assists per game, handed out seven against the Gators. VU's 7-2 center Dawid Przybyszewski made a pair of 3-pointers against Florida. It marked the 13th time the Poland native has scored at least one trey in a game this season. Earlier in the week Vanderbilt fell short at No. 9 Kentucky, 69-54. Corey Smith led all Commodores with 16 points against the Wildcats. Vanderbilt travels to Georgia Saturday, Jan. 22, for a 3 p.m. CT tip-off. Last Wednesday, Vanderbilt dropped a 69-54 decision at Kentucky. Corey Smith led all Commodores with 16 points. Shan Foster and Mario Moore added nine points each. UK shot a season-high 57.8 percent from the field. Rajon Rondo led all Wildcats with a career-high 18 points.
BASKETBALL: SEC Basketball Round-Up
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