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SEC Notebook

January 22, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

SEC Notebook

Alabama (16-3 overall, 4-1) – The Crimson Tide bounced back nicely from a disappointing loss at Auburn by notching a pair of impressive victories. They traveled to Athens and behind a 16-point 10-rebound performance from Rod Gizzard, handed Georgia its first conference loss of the season, 77-72. The Tide then returned home and easily disposed of a dangerous Mississippi State squad, 85-73. Erwin Dudley led the way with 24 points and 10 rebounds as Bama’ moved into sole possession of the SEC West lead. Up next is a trip to Lexington for a showdown with Kentucky.

Arkansas (2-3 overall, 10-7) – Just eight days ago the Razorbacks appeared poised to contend for the SEC crown. After winning their first two games, and seemingly in control of their third game, at LSU, Arkansas has since come undone. The slide began when the Hogs squandered a 13 point second half lead in Baton Rouge. Arkansas followed that up by dropping a pair of home games to South Carolina and Ole Miss. Scoring has been a problem as the Razorbacks shot below 40 percent and averaged just 62 points in the two defeats. Arkansas now faces a brutal stretch that may make or break its season. A home date with Florida is sandwiched in between trips to Georgia and Alabama.

Auburn (9-7 overall, 1-4) – The Tigers were unable to avoid a letdown following their upset victory over Alabama. They dropped a pair of road games to Vanderbilt and LSU and now find themselves in the basement of the SEC West. The Tigers hung in with the Commodores for much of the game before falling 73-67. Against LSU, Auburn shot just 32 percent from the field and leading scorer Marquis Daniels was limited to 5 points in a 75-58 drubbing. Auburn must bounce back quickly, with match-ups against Kentucky and Tennessee this week, if they are to emerge as any sort of factor in the SEC race.

Florida (15-2 overall, 4-1) – All good things must come to and end and it was no different for the Florida Gators who saw a pair of remarkable streaks come crashing down. In the SEC’s game of the year to date, Jim Harrick’s Georgia Bulldogs stormed into Gainesville and knocked off the Gators, 84-79. The loss snapped Florida’s 11 game conference winning streak dating back to last season and ended the Gators run of 14 straight wins. Amazingly, the defeat came just three days after Florida looked virtually unbeatable in a 102-70 thrashing of LSU. Against the Bulldogs, Florida struggled on offense shooting just 40 percent from the field. Brett Nelson had a miserable game misfiring on 14 of his 19 shots and the Gators missed starting guard Justin Hamilton, out with a separated shoulder. The Gators will try to begin a new streak in Fayetteville as they take on the Razorbacks.

Georgia (15-3 overall, 4-1) – It was a tumultuous week off the court for Jim Harrick’s squad, which threatened to derail the team’s amazing season to date. Two players, back-up guard Tony Cole, and starting forward Steve Thomas, stand accused of rape and have been suspended from the team pending the school’s investigation. In the team’s first game after the charges surfaced, Georgia looked lethargic in a 77-72 home loss to Alabama. With a trip to Gainesville next on the docket the team’s metal was seriously tested and they responded. Jarvis Hayes scored 23 points and twin brother Jonas added 13 as the Bulldogs stunned the Gators, ending the nation’s longest winning streak. Georgia now sits alongside the Gators atop the SEC East standings as they prepare to host Arkansas.

Kentucky (10-4 overall, 1-2) – The Wildcats snapped out of their recent funk with an 87-64 thumping of Mississippi. Tayshaun Prince led the way with 19 points and Gerald Fitch added 13 as the ‘Cats opened up a 15 points lead at intermission and cruised the rest of the way. Kentucky then traveled to South Bend for a non-conference tussle with the Fighting Irish. Prince had a miserable 3 for 12 night and the ‘Cats shot just 42 percent from the field. Yet Keith Bogans, mired in a season long slump, scored 23 points including several big shots down the stretch as Kentucky held off the Irish for a 72-65 victory. Next up for the Wildcats is a road tilt with Auburn and a home against Alabama before traveling to Gainesville for a heavyweight clash with the Gators.

LSU (12-5 overall, 2-2) – The Tigers became the Florida Gators 14th consecutive victim suffering a 102-70 walloping in Gainesville. They rebounded nicely however with an impressive 75-58 victory over Auburn, and find themselves in the middle of the pack in the SEC West race. Junior guard Ronald Dupree continued his stellar play with 25 points on 10 of 19 shooting against Auburn and forward Brad Bridgewater added 13 points and 7 rebounds. The Tigers will the hit the road for crucial games against Mississippi and Mississippi State.

Mississippi (14-4 overall, 3-2) – The Rebels were completely stymied in an 87-64 loss at Rupp Arena. Mississippi mustered just 22 points in the first half and shot 33 percent from the field as the ‘Cats took control from the opening tip. The Rebels then traveled to Fayetteville and rediscovered their shooting touch against the Razorbacks. David Sanders and Jason Harrison each had 17 and Derrick Allen hauled down 16 rebounds in a hard fought 70-64 victory. The Rebels have a golden opportunity to climb up the standings as they return home for a three game stretch against LSU, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt. Three teams with a combined 6-13 record on the road.

Mississippi State (15-4, 2-3) – The Bulldogs had their most stirring victory of the season, a 92-91-overtime thriller over Tennessee. After squandering a double-digit lead in the second half, Mississippi State found themselves down by three with under a minute remaining. Michal Ignerski nailed a dramatic three pointer to send the game into overtime. The Vols led by as many as four in the extra session but the Bulldogs clawed their way back taking the lead on Timmy Bowers foul shot and holding on for the victory. The momentum however did not carry over to their next game as Mississippi State dropped an 85-73 decision at Alabama. Next up for the Bulldogs is a home game with LSU before trips to Auburn and Florida.

South Carolina (11-6 overall, 1-3) – After suffering a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Kentucky, the Gamecocks finally got the breaks to go their way in a nip and tuck game at Arkansas. Guard Jamel Bradley hit several big shots and the Gamecocks controlled the glass coming away with a 62-60 victory. But South Carolina could not capitalize on the momentum back home against Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks shot just 37 percent in a disappointing 60-51 loss to the Commodores. The lone bright spot was Aaron Lucas, who scored 20 points in defeat. South Carolina faces a murderous 5-game stretch including road games at Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky.

Tennessee (7-9 overall, 1-3) – An already disappointing season got worse for the Volunteers with the news that Ron Slay will be lost for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The junior forward was the team’s third leading scorer, averaging 14.8 points per game. Slay was still around however for the Volunteers fifth gut-wrenching loss of the season, a 92-91 overtime defeat to Arkansas. Tennessee showed resolve in their next game, knocking off Syracuse 66-62, but have a long way to go to get back in the SEC race, especially without the Slay’s services.

Vanderbilt (12-6 overall, 2-3) – After a 0-3 start to conference play, the Commodores bounced back strong this week notching a pair of victories. Matt Freije scored 29 points and Brian Thornton grabbed 14 rebounds in a hard fought 73-67 victory over Auburn. The Commodores then traveled to South Carolina and behind a stingy defense that held the Gamecocks to 37 percent shooting came away with a 60-51 victory. Once again Freije, perhaps the most underrated player in the conference, led the way with 13 points. Vandy goes for three in a row at home against Georgia.

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