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SEC Notebook

January 6, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Southeastern Conference Notebook

by Rainer Sabin

In forty minutes on Saturday, Alabama laid to rest any fears its fans may have had after the Crimson Tide lost to Utah last Monday. That is because Alabama (10-1) conquered No. 19 Xavier 65-58 in Tuscaloosa. The Tide rebounded from its first setback of the season and earned its 26th consecutive victory at Coleman Coliseum, as Alabama converted 19 turnovers committed by the Musketeers into 26 points.

Erwin Dudley scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the victory, and outplayed his counterpart, David West, who was held scoreless in the second half. West has not fared well against SEC centers this season–having been dominated by Mississippi State’s Mario Austin when the latter played his first game in Madison Square Garden in December.

West’s woes, nevertheless, could not mask the troubles Alabama was having from the field. The Tide shot just 41.8% and appears to lack a true scorer like Ron Grizzard, the slashing guard/forward, who declared for the NBA Draft after last season.

Alabama will face Arkansas in its conference game of the season Wednesday. By then, the Tide hopes to cure its offensive maladies.

Bulldogs Still Clawing

Georgia (8-3) is back. The Bulldogs, which were ranked in the Top 25 at the outset of the season, were off to a miserable start at the beginning of the 2002-2003 campaign. Georgia lost three of its first five games, dropped out of both polls, and even had a player leave the team. But the Bulldogs have not lost since falling to Minnesota on a last second three-pointer. Georgia has beaten California, Gonzaga, and, most recently, Pittsburgh on New Year’s Eve. It was the first loss of the season for the Panthers, which now know that the Bulldogs still have some bite.

Slay – A Beast in the East

While Tennessee is enjoying a 7-2 start after having beaten Western Carolina, Tennessee Martin, and New Mexico on Saturday, it is Ron Slay that is making the most noise. The senior forward, who enjoys inciting the opposition’s fan base with his on-the-court antics, is also causing an uproar with his dominating play. Slay is averaging 22.6 points and nine rebounds per game and most recently dropped 38 on the Lobos. This is all the more remarkable considering that Slay, who leads the conference in scoring, tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee last January.

Calipari and Arkansas: No Love Lost

Memphis coach John Calipari likely won’t return to Bud Walton Arena for a while. But that is his choice. Calipari, whose Tigers beat the Razorbacks (5-6) 72-67 last Thursday, said he has no desire to renew the series between the border rivals and wants to create a schedule that features more high-profile programs that will garner national television exposure. Arkansas coach Stan Heath took exception to those comments-much like his predecessor, Nolan Richardson, did when Calipari made his desires known in previous years. Heath, then, said he was going to recruit Memphis in a postgame news conference. And you thought Lewis-Tyson was good. How about Heath-Calipari at the Pyramid?

Kentucky Finishes off Non-Conference Schedule

Kentucky (9-3) will enter conference play with a three-game winning streak. After easily beating Tennessee State and Alcorn State, the Wildcats survived a scare against Ohio in Cincinnati Saturday. Kentucky watched as a 19-point advantage dwindled to three late in the second half, as the Bobcats forged a late run. However, guard Keith Bogans helped prevent Kentucky from losing the lead and the Wildcats pulled out an 83-75 victory.

Around the Rest of the SEC

Florida (11-2) ended its non-conference campaign with a 91-58 pounding of Florida A&M Dec. 30. Freshmen Matt Walsh, who leads the team in scoring with 16.8 ppg., and Anthony Roberson will lead the Gators into battle against Mississippi State, which also features a formidable backcourt duo of Derrick Zimmerman and Timmy Bowers . . . Vanderbilt (7-4) finished off a difficult non-conference schedule with a 70-53 rout of the College of Charleston Saturday. Matt Frieje and Corey Smith led the team with 17 points each in the win over the 10-3 Cougars . . . South Carolina (6-4) will face Ole Miss in its first conference game after beating the Citadel 66-50 last Thursday . . . Mississippi State (10-1) continues to roll over opponents. The Bulldogs beat South Alabama and Alabama-Birmingham in their last two games . . . Louisiana State (9-1) face Georgia this Sunday and are led by Ronald Dupree and junior college transfer Jaime Lloreda, who are averaging 15.2 and 12.7 points per game, respectively . . . The Ole Miss Rebels (9-2) finished off their non-conference schedule in lackluster fashion, as they beat Samford 57-49 . . . Auburn (11-2) will face Vanderbilt Wednesday after beating North Texas 90-65 last Thursday. Marquis Daniels leads the team in scoring with 19.8 ppg.


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