Alabama: (20-4 overall, 8-2) – Despite dropping their last game at the hands
of Mississippi State, the Crimson Tide have emerged as one of the stories of
this college hoops season. Prior to dropping a 76-62 final against the
Bulldogs, Bama’ rolled off six straight victories, climbing all the way to
seventh in the polls. The Tide’s greatest virtue has been their remarkable
depth as youngsters like Earnest Shelton and Reggie Rambo help form one of
the premier second units in the nation. Alabama will travel to South Carolina
with hopes of starting a new winning streak.
Arkansas: (12-10 overall, 4-6) – The Razorbacks survived a murderous five game
stretch with a respectable 2-3 mark, including their biggest win of the
season, a 94-92 upset of Florida. The other victory was a 62-60 squeaker over
Auburn countered by losses at Georgia, at Alabama, and at Mississippi.
Against the Gators, Nolan Richardson pulled a shocking move by removing star
shooter Jannero Pargo from the starting line-up. Pargo responded by coming
off the bench with 35 points, including 7 of 8 from three-point land. At 4-6
however, the Razorbacks tournament hopes appear to be dwindling.
Auburn: (12-11 overall, 2-8) – The Tigers snapped a six game losing streak,
its longest in 8 years, with a 75-72 upset of Georgia. Marquis Daniels led the
way with 14 points, including five free throws in the final minute, as Auburn
won a heated game which saw Georgia coach Jim Harrick, and two Bulldogs
ejected. The victory interrupted what can only be referred to as a free-fall
for the Tigers who have dropped 8 of 10 SEC game and have virtually no chance
of postseason play.
Florida: (18-4 overall, 7-3) – Even as the Gators raced to a 15-1 record and a
number 2 ranking, some murmurs could be heard suggesting Florida was little
more than a paper tiger. What ensued was a three game losing streak,
including home losses to Georgia and Kentucky where the Gators were
thoroughly outplayed. But Florida has righted the ship with three straight
victories highlighted by an impressive 76-48 demolition of Mississippi State.
The Gators will hit the road in the remaining weeks with trips to Georgia,
Alabama, and Kentucky as they vie for the SEC East Crown and a possible
number 1 seed.
Georgia: (18-8 overall, 7-4) – Since knocking off Florida in Gainesville, and
stamping themselves as a major force in the SEC, Georgia has been
unimpressive in splitting their last six games. All three losses came on the
road dropping the Bulldogs behind the Gators in the race for the SEC East
title. Emotions spilled over in Georgia’s latest loss at Auburn, as Jim
Harrick and two players were ejected for questioning the officiating late in
the game. Georgia faces a crucial two-game homestand as Florida and Kentucky
visit Athens in a four-day span.
Kentucky: (16-6 overall, 6-4) – Perhaps the most enigmatic team in the
country, the Wildcats rescued their season with a rousing victory over
Florida in Gainesville, followed by a commanding win over South Carolina but
dropped a 76-74 heartbreaker at Tennessee, prompting Tubby Smith to once again
question the teams toughness and poise in close games. The ‘Cats rebounded
from the loss to the Vols with a 68-56 victory at LSU and have moved just a
game behind Florida for the SEC East lead. Next up is a home date with
Vanderbilt followed by a showdown with Georgia in Athens.
LSU: (12-11 overall, 2-8) – The Tigers have totally collapsed, dropping six
consecutive games and falling to the basement of the SEC West. The biggest
problem has been a sputtering offense that has averaged less than 60 points a
game during the skid. Leading scorer Ronald Dupree continues to put up big
numbers but is receiving little help from the rest of the Tigers who have all
gone in the tank.
Mississippi: (18-6 overall, 7-4) – The Rebels up and down play continued as they dropped a pair of difficult road games at Georgia and at Alabama. Against the Bulldogs, Mississippi hung close for most of the game before wilting in the last two minutes. Against the Tide, Mississippi looked sluggish from the start shooting just 41 percent and committing 19 turnovers as they dropped a 79-59 decision. The Rebels did rebound behind 26 points from Aaron Harper to knock off the Razorbacks, 79-67. Next up is a trip to Auburn followed by a showdown at home against Florida.
Mississippi State: (18-6, 5-5) – The Bulldogs entered a daunting three game stretch with aspirations of climbing into the upper echelon of the SEC. Instead they began the stretch in miserable fashion getting clobbered by the Gators in Gainesville, 76-48, and dropping an 86-68 decision at home to Georgia. Mississippi State than salvaged its tournament hopes with an impressive 76-62 upset of Alabama, who came to town playing the best basketball of any team in the country. Timmy Bowers led the way in the upset of the Tide with 24 points and Michael Gholar hauled in 9 rebounds.
South Carolina: (14-9 overall, 4-6) – The Gamecocks survived a brutal four game stretch coming away with a 2-2 record. Losses to Florida at home and at Kentucky were sandwiched between solid victories over Georgia and Tennessee. Against the Vols, South Carolina had one of its most complete performances of the season notching assists and committing just seven turnovers. Aaron Lucas led all scorers with 20 points. Next up for the Gamecocks is a home date with Alabama followed by a trip to Vanderbilt.
Tennessee: (12-11 overall, 5-5) – The Vols have done a commendable job of remaining competitive despite the loss of Ron Slay to a season ending injury and a series of heartbreaking losses. However, with another loss this week their tournament hopes are quickly dimming. Prior to the 72-54 loss at South Carolina, Tennessee rattled off four straight victories, including three nip and tuck games, exorcising their ghosts from earlier in the season. The Vols traveled to Baton Rouge and defeated the Tigers 61-58. They followed that victory with a 67-65 win at Vandy and then pulled off their biggest victory of the season, knocking off Kentucky, 76-74. The loss to the Gamecocks was damaging and Tennesse will need a strong finish to have any case for the big dance.
Vanderbilt: (14-9 overall, 4-6) – The Commodores have played far better in recent weeks but have little to show for it. Behind 22 points from Brendan Plavich, Vanderbilt knocked off Georgia in thrilling fashion, 86-84, but proceeded to drop three of the next four, including a gut-wrenching 67-65 loss to Tennessee. The lone victory came in the form of a 68-63 victory over LSU at home. Leading scorer Matt Freije struggled mightily shooting 3 for 12 but was rescued once again by Plavich, and guard Chuck Moore who each scored 18 points. Unfortunately, Vanderbilt followed this victory by getting hammered at Florida, 80-54, and must travel to Lexington next for a meeting with Kentucky.