Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
SEC Basketball report:
SEC basketball a study in contrasts
Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
FAYETTEVILLE The SEC had a contrasting series of games Saturday, with four going into overtime and the other three decided by wide margins.
In the wipe out category, it was Vanderbilt 72, Mississippi State 31; Ole Miss 88, Auburn 55, and Florida 71, Arkansas 54.
In the overtime category, Tennessee beat Texas A&M in four overtimes; LSU defeated Alabama in three overtimes, and in two games that lasted one overtime, Kentucky beat Missouri and Georgia beat South Carolina.
Tennessee’s 93-85 victory was its longest since 1979 and it extended the Volunteers’ winning streak to five games, their longest since 2008.
“You just try to get out of there alive,” Tennessee Coach Cuonzo Martin said.
“It takes a toll on you both ways, but if you’re able to get a win … then it’s a great feeling and then you ride that momentum to the next day or the next game. But if you lose the game, it’s physically taxing on you.”
Texas A&M Coach Billy Kennedy’s depleted team has lost seven SEC games decided by seven points or less or in overtime.
“We had four guys foul out and we only have eight scholarship players,” Kennedy said. “It’s draining, especially when you lose. It hurts a little bit more than another game because you had opportunities to win and it was right there.”
Tennessee’s Trae Golden was named SEC player of the week after averaging 26 points, 6assists and 3.5 rebounds in two Tennessee victories.
Golden had 32 points, 15 in the four overtime periods, in Tennessee’s victory at Texas A&M on Saturday.
Golden, who made 19 of 20 free throws last week, is averaging 20.8 points and shooting 48 percent during Tennessee’s five-game winning streak.
Vanderbilt’s 72-31 victory over Mississippi State was the Bulldogs’ 12th consecutive loss since opening 2-0 in the SEC, and its sixth by 25 or more points in conference play.
Mississippi State has games remaining against Kentucky, Ole Miss and South Carolina before playing Auburn at Humphrey Coliseum on March 9 to finish league play.
Auburn has lost 11 of 12 games since opening 2-0 in the SEC.
Mississippi’s 11-year NCAA Tournament drought might still come to an end this year, but if the Rebels, who have lost five of their past eight, are left out of the 68-team field, they’ll probably look back on last Wednesday’s 63-62 loss at South Carolina as the moment an NCAA bid slipped away.
The Gamecocks entered the game with a Ratings Percentage Index of No. 202.
“You can’t be oblivious to it if you have a television,” Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said. “This certainly hurt us. We know that.”
South Carolina got two attempts in the waning moments of regulation to defeat Georgia in Athens, Ga., on Saturday. Guard Bruce Ellington’s three point try went awry at the buzzer, but South Carolina received a second chance at a winning shot when officials ruled there had been a clock malfunction. The Gamecocks did not capitalize, and the Bulldogs took a 62-54 decision in overtime.
Georgia Coach Mark Fox likened the restart to the 1972 Olympics, when Russia got extra opportunities for a game-winning basket against the United States and took advantage to win the gold medal.
0 for half
Georgia guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was shut out in the first half for the second consecutive game Saturday, and for the second game in a row, the SEC’s leading scorer brought his team back with a big second half showing. Caldwell-Pope had 18 points in the Bulldogs’ 62-54 overtime victory against South Carolina after scoring 15 points in a 62-60 loss at Georgia on Thursday, a game in which he shot 0 for 4 in the first half.
Florida freshman guard Michael Frazier suffered a concussion when his head hit the knee of teammate Scottie Wilbekin while he was diving for a loose ball against Arkansas. Frazier is listed as questionable for games at Tennessee today and against Alabama on Saturday.
Game of the week
KENTUCKY AT ARKANSAS 3 p.m. Saturday (CBS) The Wildcats have won two in a row since their 30-point loss at Tennessee and are likely to make it three after Wednesday’s home game against Mississippi State. Arkansas needs an RPI boost and can run its SEC home record to 7-0 with a victory.
By the numbers
4 Number of Mississippi State losses by 30-plus points at Humphrey Coliseum
9 Total overtime periods in four SEC games on Saturday
9 Number of players who logged 50-plus minutes in the Tennessee-Texas A&M four-overtime game
TODAY’S GAMES - All times Central
Auburn at Alabama, 6 p.m.
Florida at Tennessee, 8 p.m.
Sports, Pages 20 on 02/26/2013