The University of Florida improved to 6-2 with a 100-68 victory over Georgia Southern. The Gators reached the 100-point mark for the first time this season hitting 57.1 percent from the floor. The Gators have hit 50 percent or better in five of eight games. Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson led five Gators in double figures with 18 points apiece. Walsh reached the 1,000-point mark for his career on a three-pointer mid-way through the first half. David Lee and Joakim Noah scored 14 each while Al Horford, making his first career start had 10 points. Florida forced 20 turnovers and got 27 points off of them. The Gators got steals on 12 of GSU's 20 turnovers. UF is 6-0 on the year when holding its opposition under 70 points. The Gators got to the foul line 36 times, hitting 30. Roberson hit 9-of-10 free throws while Noah hit 8-of-9. The Gators are averaging 83.9 points per game and are 6-0 when scoring 80+ points. Florida returns to action on Wednesday night when Eastern Kentucky comes to Gainesville. The Colonels are coached by Travis Ford, a former Kentucky player who was a member of the Wildcats when Billy Donovan was an assistant at UK.
Georgia plays one mid-week game, Wednesday against Bethune-Cookman before breaking three days for Christmas. The Bulldogs return from the holiday for a practice late on Dec. 26 and will resume their non-conference schedule Dec. 28 against Savannah State. Georgia is riding a three-game win streak, its longest since mid-February of last season. In all three wins the Bulldogs have overcome double-digit, second-half deficits. In the most recent win, last Sunday over Wofford, the Dogs trailed 57-44 at the 13:18 mark of the second half, and by an 82-76 margin with just 43 seconds left. Freshman guard Channing Toney led the Bulldogs in the Wofford game with a season-high 24 points, including a 3-pointer with seven seconds left in regulation, tying the score at 84-all. Levi Stukes also scored 21 for the Bulldogs. Georgia's regulation score of 84 was by eight points its best offensive total thus far this season. The Terriers missed seven of their final 10 free throws, allowing Georgia to escape with a 93-89 overtime win. It marked the first time in 11 years Georgia had won consecutive overtime games.
UK has been ranked in the AP top 10 for 23-straight weeks, the longest current streak in the nation. Kentucky matched a school record by rallying from a 16-point halftime deficit to defeat rival Louisville, 60-58, in Freedom Hall. The only other time UK has come back from that far behind at intermission was at LSU in 1994, when the Cats trailed by 16 at the half and by as many as 31 in the second stanza before rallying for a 99-95 win. The Wildcats trailed Louisville 46-30 with 11 minutes to go and 54-44 with five minutes left. Kentucky committed a season-low eight turnovers, including just two in the second half. The 16 first-half points scored by the Wildcats was their lowest total in a half since putting up 11 in the second half of a 53-40 loss to Georgetown in the 1984 Final Four. Forward Sheray Thomas saw his first action of the season against UL. Thomas had missed UK's first seven games after undergoing surgery in October. Kentucky has held its last 40 opponents under 50 percent shooting. The Wildcats have held 28 of its last 33 opponents to 68 points or less. They have won 60 of their last 67 games overall and 38 of their last 44 away from Rupp Arena.
South Carolina flew to Mobile, Ala., on Saturday after the Kansas game. USC played East Carolina at 7:30 p.m. on Monday as part of the GMAC Bowl/Coors Classic.
The last time out, South Carolina, leading most of the way, dropped a 64-60 loss on the road to No. 2 Kansas. Carlos Powell led the Gamecocks with the sixth double-double of his career -- collecting 13 points and 10 rebounds. The Gamecocks have opened all seven games this season with the same lineup. (Carlos Powell, Tarence Kinsey, Brandon Wallace, Tre' Kelley, and Josh Gonner). All five this season have scored in double figures at least once this year. The five are averaging 50.3 ppg of the Gamecocks' 70.6 ppg this season. For the first time this season, a non-starter led the team in scoring against South Florida. Renaldo Balkman scored a career-high 17 points against the Bulls.
The Vols saw their two-game winning streak come to an end with a 58-77 loss at New Mexico on Saturday evening. Chris Lofton led the Vols with 19 points. Scooter McFadgon was the only other Vol in double figure scoring with 14 points. McFadgon leads the Vols with 15.8 points per game and is shooting 89.8 percent (44-of-49) from the free throw line. Lofton is second on the team in scoring with 11.9 points per game. Tennessee will hosts Campbell on Thursday, before taking a week-long break for the holidays. The Vols will return to action to host Nebraska on Dec. 30. Lofton is leading the Vols in field goal percentage (55.0 percent) despite 82 percent of his field goals this season having been made behind the 3-point line. He is shooting 61.4 percent from 3-point range. He tied a school record for single-game 3-point percentage by going 5-for-5 from 3-point range at New Mexico (12/18/04). He tied the mark set by Shane Carnes (5-for-5 against Michigan State on Dec. 20, 1994) and Thaydeus Holden (5-for-5 against Vanderbilt on Jan. 18, 2003).
Vanderbilt won the first of six consecutive home games Saturday by topping TCU 78-55. The Commodores were led in scoring by Corey Smith's 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Vanderbilt's bench outscored TCU's reserves 42-16. TCU was held to 34.5 percent shooting from the field. Mario Moore netted 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting to post double figures in scoring for the 14th consecutive game. In his first collegiate start, Shan Foster poured in 13 points, three 3-pointers, four rebounds and three steals. The 2004-05 Commodores have made more 3-pointers (87) and are hitting a better percentage (.410) from 3-point range through nine games than any Vanderbilt team during the Kevin Stallings era. VU has made 10 or more 3-pointers in each of its last four home games. The Commodores are holding their opponents to 35.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Vanderbilt has won 18 consecutive non-conference home games heading into Monday's tilt with Central Michigan. Vanderbilt has won 20 of its last 22 home games overall.
Alabama plays host to Texas A&M Corpus Christi on Wednesday. The Islanders are 7-1 with its lone loss at Kent State. Chuck Davis collected back-to-back double doubles this past week, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds against Temple and following that game with 24 points and career highs of 12 rebounds and 7 blocks against Tennessee State. Junior forward Kennedy Winston, who scored 19 points in Alabama's 87-79 win against Tennessee State on Saturday night has a career average of 15.4 career points a game after 60 UA games. Redshirt freshman guard Justin Jonus, who got word last week after a year-and-a-half of being a walkon that he'll be on scholarship beginning in January, has played in nine games, averaging 11.8 minutes a game and has yet to commit a turnover. Earnest Shelton, who graduated from Alabama this past Saturday with a degree in management in the School of Business, is just seven points away from scoring his 1,000th UA career point. He scored 15 against Tennessee State on graduation night to move to 993 career points in 98 games. He'll become the 36th player in UA history to reach that milestone.
Arkansas scored 102 points against Prairie View A&M on Saturday, putting the Razorbacks at or above the century mark for the first time since Jan. 2, 2002, when UA topped Maryland-Eastern Shore, 100-40. The Hogs are now 121-5 when scoring 100 points. Arkansas also had 13 blocked shots and 59 rebounds against Prairie View. The 13 blocks are the fifth-most in school history and the 59 boards are the most since UA set a school record with 77 against Jackson State in Stan Heath's first game as head coach on Nov. 22, 2002. Freshman center Darian Townes has made 17-of-24 shots over the last two games, 70.8 percent. He is averaging 18.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots in those two games. At 8-1, Arkansas is off to its best start since the 1997-98 club also began the year 8-1. In Thursday's win over Tennessee State, freshman center Darian Townes made 10-of-13 shots and scored a game and season-high 20 points. The Razorbacks limited the Tigers to 36.5 percent shooting, the fifth time this year UA has held an opponent below 40 percent.
This is only the second meeting between Auburn and Delaware. This is the first meeting between Auburn's Jeff Lebo and Delaware's David Henderson as head coaches, but they are old Atlantic Coast Conference rivals. Lebo was a freshman at North Carolina when Henderson was a senior and co-captain of Duke's 1986 Final Four team. After starting the season playing eight games in 19 days, the Tigers have just played one game in 12 days due to final exams. Auburn has a week off before playing Delaware in the San Juan Shootout on Monday. The Tigers had four days off before playing UNLV Dec. 12 and had a week off before facing Delaware. This will be Auburn's fourth trip to San Juan, and it's the third time to play in the Christmas version of the San Juan Shootout. This will be the first meeting between Auburn and Middle Tennessee State. Auburn coach Jeff Lebo is 3-3 against MTSU as a head coach and is 3-5 all-time, going 0-2 as an assistant. This will only be the second meeting in the series for Auburn and Toledo. The Rockets defeated the Tigers 95-90 in double overtime in the second round of the 2000 Energia Systems Thanksgiving Tournament in Kansas City, Mo.
The LSU Tigers look to finish the pre-Christmas schedule when they travel to Houston to take on the Houston Cougars tonight at Hofheinz Pavilion. The Tigers are 5-2 coming off a tough overtime loss, 88-84, Saturday in Biloxi against Southern Mississippi. LSU will be hoping for similar production from freshman Glen Davis, who had a big 27-point game against the Cougars on Saturday. Brandon Bass, though limited in touches, made 6-of-7 field goal attempts and had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Against Southern Miss, LSU rallied from a 16-point mid-first half deficit and an 11-point margin at the break to come back with an impressive second-half effort LSU couldn't hold the lead down the stretch and Southern Miss tied the game on a short shot with 1.1 seconds to play, forcing the overtime. After the game, LSU will take off for Christmas before resuming practice on Sunday in preparation for the Dec. 30 game in the New Orleans Arena in the Nokia Sugar Bowl Classic against Florida State.
The Bulldogs wrap up the pre-Christmas portion of its hoops slate by taking on Jacksonville State on Wednesday at Jackson's Mississippi Coliseum. MSU is in the midst of playing three games in five days before taking a seven-day holiday break away from game competition. The Bulldogs extended their current NCAA-leading overall road winning streak to 14 consecutive games with road triumphs at New Orleans and Xavier last week. MSU set single-game, season-best marks for overall field-goal percentage (54.0%), three-point percentage (66.7%) and free-throw percentage (75.0%) in Saturday's 80-74 victory at Xavier. State owns a 40-3 composite home record against non-conference opponents during the Rick Stansbury era. The Bulldogs are now 41-8 collectively overall during the month of December since Stansbury assumed MSU's head coaching duties in 1998. The Bulldogs are 8-5 all-time, with a current streak of four straight wins, at Jackson's Mississippi Coliseum. Senior Shane Power enters the week needing 32 more points to eclipse the 1,000-point mark for his career.
Ole Miss is riding a season-long four-game win streak and has won its last three games by an average margin of victory of 30 points. The Rebels have shot a spectacular 59.3 percent from the field during the streak, while opponents have been limited to a 37.0 percent clip. Junior forward Londrick Nolen has scored in double-figures in seven straight games, including a career-high 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-5 threes, against UL-Monroe. The juco transfer also posted team-highs of 16 points and 8 boards vs. Troy. Nolen has taken over the team lead in scoring (12.9), rebounding (4.7), blocks (9) and three-pointers (17), is tied for the team-lead in steals (15), and is one shy of the leader in assists (28). Senior forward Tommie Eddie dropped in 17 points against ULM, marking his fourth game of 17 or more points this season. Ole Miss is 4-0 with senior point guard Cavadas Nunnery in the starting lineup. Wrapping up a stretch of five games in 11 days, the Rebels match up with UT-Martin tonight at Tupelo's BancorpSouth Center. It will be Ole Miss' first contest in the 11-year-old arena and the team's second ever game in Tupelo, having dropped a 1964 meeting with Texas 94-67.
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