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.
Division in favor of West
Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy, bottom center, watches the closing moments while the bench celebrates behind him late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. Texas A&M won 83-71. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
FAYETTEVILLE They don’t break the SEC into divisions in basketball, but if they did, the Western Division would have more buzz than its counterpart.
Four “Western” teams notched road victories against “Eastern” teams during the first week of SEC play, and three of them came by 10 or more points, led by Texas A&M’s 83-71 victory at Kentucky.
Ole Miss topped Tennessee 92-74 on the road in a conference opener, and Mississippi State defeated Georgia 72-61 in Athens, Ga., on Saturday. Auburn also won, 74-71 at South Carolina.
The only Eastern Division team with a road victory over a former cross-division rival is No.
10 Florida, which blew out LSU 74-52 in Baton Rouge.
Ole Miss, which has the SEC’s best record at 13-2, followed up its road victory with a 64-49 victory over then-No. 10 Missouri on Saturday.
Texas A&M Coach Billy Kennedy tried to downplay his team’s 2-0 league start.
“We sure haven’t arrived by any means,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of work to accomplish and have places to improve in a lot of ways.”
Texas A&M’s Elston Turner made a quick splash in the SEC when he scored 40 points in Saturday’s 83-71 upset of Kentucky at Rupp Arena.
The 6-5 guard, who was named the SEC player of the week, made 10 of 13 first-half shots and had 25 points, one shy of his career high, by halftime. He finished 14 of 19 from the field.
The Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader noted Turner scored all of his points against freshmen, and Kentucky Coach John Calipari said he made a mistake by starting the game with Alex Poythress on Turner, who made a couple of early three pointers and finished with six, before switching to Sylvan Hills’ Archie Goodwin.
Turner’s point total was the most by an opposing player in Rupp Arena since LSU’s Chris Jackson (later known as Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) scored 41 on Feb. 15, 1990.
“That’s as good as it gets, the way he shot the ball,” Calipari said.
“I thank God for this,” Turner said. “This is something I’ve been wanting my whole life.” Equalizers
Highlights of the SEC’s nonconference games included two record-tying performances. Missouri guard Phil Pressey had 19 assists in a 97-94 overtime loss at UCLA on Dec.
2, tying Tennessee’s Bill Hahn (1968) and LSU’s Kenny Higgs (1977) for the SEC record. Auburn’s Jordan Price made 11 consecutive three-pointers in a three-game span against Grambling State, Furman and Tennessee Tech to tie the SEC mark held by Vanderbilt’s Kevin Anglin, who did it over two games in 1992.
Ole Miss has gotten great dividends from Marshall Henderson, a transfer from South Plains (Texas) College whose 18.6 points per game leads the SEC by more than a point over Auburn’s Frankie Sullivan (17.2 ppg).
The 6-2, 175-pound guard was named player of the year by the National Junior College Athletic Associations’ coaches after leading South Plains to a 36-0 record and the NJCAA championship.
“He’s added the ability to make a shot,” Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said. “He can stretch your defense. … He’s making around four threes a game, so he allows you to get better spacing.
“I tell him I’m upset when he’s sitting by me.
When he’s on the bench, I tell him he can’t shoot.”
Florida is off to a hot start despite having numerous players - including guards Scottie Wilbekin (broken finger) and Mike Rosario (ankle) and forwards Casey Prather (ankle), Erik Murphy (cracked rib) and Will Yeguette (knee tendonitis) - miss time with injuries.
Prather, who suffered a high-ankle sprain in the Gators’ 74-52 victory at LSU on Saturday, is expected to miss Thursday’s road game at Texas A&M and probably a home game Saturday against Missouri.
Florida has used four different starting lineups the past four games because of injuries.
No more 0-for-road
Texas A&M Coach Billy Kennedy had an 0-16 road record against SEC teams before winning 83-71 against Kentucky in Lexington on Saturday.
All the previous road losses came when Kennedy was coaching at Centenary College, Southeastern Louisiana and Murray State.
“It’s definitely different than going in there and playing them for money and playing them in the preseason,” Kennedy said.
Missouri forward Laurence Bowers, who suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee late in an 84-68 victory over Alabama last week, will sit out the Tigers’ game on Wednesday against Georgia, Coach Frank Haith said Monday, and then be re-evaluated.
Bowers, who ranks sixth in scoring (16.8 points per game) and 11th in rebounding (6.9) in the SEC, missed all last season with a torn knee ligament.
“I’ll tell you one thing, we’re not going to rush him back,” Haith said.
Marshawn Powell’s 8-of-9 shooting against Vanderbilt tied the Arkansas record for field-goal percentage (.889) in an SEC game, set by Corliss Williamson on Jan. 12, 1993. … Kentavius Caldwell-Pope has led Georgia in scoring in all but one game and has scored at least 10 points in every game. … Former Massachusetts star Marcus Camby, who has had a long NBA career, will have his jersey retired by the Minutemen on Saturday, the same day his UMass head coach, John Calipari, and assistant coach, Tony Barbee, will be squaring off with their Kentucky and Auburn teams in Auburn, Ala. “I wish we weren’t playing so we could be there for him,” Barbee said.
… Auburn freshman Brian Greene, playing more than 15 minutes for the first time this season, made 6 of 6 shots, including both of his three-pointers, and led the Tigers with 14 points in a 74-71 upset at South Carolina on Saturday.
By the numbers
10 Years since Auburn opened with a 2-0 SEC record, as it has entering Wednesday’s game at Arkansas
295 School-record three-pointers made by Florida’s Kenny Boynton, who broke Lee Humphrey’s record Jan. 6 in a victory at Yale
2,500 All-time games played by Alabama when its hosts Texas A&M on Saturday
Game of the Week: FLORIDA AT TEXAS A&M, 7 p.m., Thursday
The Gators, the SEC’s highest-ranked team at No. 10, faces the surprising Aggies, whose first week of conference games included a 69-51 home rout of Arkansas and a 12-point road victory at Kentucky.
TODAY’S GAMES (All times Central)
Tennessee at Kentucky, 6 p.m.
Mississippi at Vanderbilt, 8 p.m.
Auburn at Arkansas, 7 p.m.
Georgia at Missouri, 7 p.m.
South Carolina at LSU, 7 p.m.
Alabama at Mississippi State, 8 p.m.
Florida at Texas A&M, 6 p.m.
Sports, Pages 20 on 01/15/2013