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.
Florida winning big time
Florida coach Billy Donovan, right, shouts to his team as the clock runs down during the second half against Missouri, as his bench celebrates during an NCAA college basketball game in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. Florida won 83-52. It was Donovan's 400th career coaching win at Florida. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)
FAYETTEVILLE Florida and Mississippi escaped the first two weeks of SEC play with 4-0 records.
While both teams have two road victories each, the Gators are racking up more style points.
No. 8 Florida’s four victories have come by an average of 26.7 points per game, including an 83-52 rout of then-No. 17 Missouri on Saturday. The Gators have won their road games at Texas A&M and LSU by an average of 21.5 points per game.
“They’re much better defensively than I think they get credit for,” Aggies Coach Billy Kennedy said.
“They play with a great understanding of the game,” Missouri Coach Frank Haith said. “They play great defense. They rotate. They’re always communicating on defense. ... They’re beating people pretty good.”
Ole Miss, bolstered by the addition of shooting ace Marshall Henderson to a veteran lineup, has won its league games by an average margin of 13.7 points per game.
“Every game has been a different way in which we find to win,” Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said.
Kennedy began the campaign for postseason honors by saying power forward Murphy Holloway, who leads the SEC with 10.6 rebounds per game and ranks eighth with 15.8 points per game, is “having a player of the year type of year.”
Lights and ‘stuff’
Power was lost in both Mississippi-based home games last week. The lights went out at Humphrey Coliseum during the pregame warm-ups for 45 minutes before Alabama beat Mississippi State 75-43 on Wednesday.
On Saturday, the lights at Ole Miss’ Tad Smith Coliseum went out twice as part of campus wide outages, during the pregame and again with 5:37 remaining in the first half, causing a lengthy delay. The Rebels went on a 10-5 surge the rest of the half after play resumed.
“Arkansas was probably madder about it than us,” Ole Miss’ Murphy Holloway said. “When you go to Ole Miss, a lot of stuff don’t work right sometimes around here.”
ESPN3 analyst Matt Doherty was cutting up on the air with former Auburn star Charles Barkley during Kentucky’s 75-53 rout at Auburn on Saturday.
The back and forth went like this:
Doherty: “I was visiting the Auburn campus today.
This is a lovely campus. Can you tell me where the library is?”
Barkley: (pause) “The person who did all my classwork can. ... Just joking, America.”
Home vs. road
Nine of the 14 SEC teams have conference road victories, including Florida, Kentucky and Ole Miss having won both their road games. Road teams are 12-16 (.429) in SEC play.
Nine league teams have lost league home games, including 0-2 marks by LSU, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Only Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri and Ole Miss have opened 2-0 in SEC home games.
LSU, which faces Texas A&M at home Wednesday and Kentucky on the road Saturday, is the only remaining winless SEC team at 0-4.
The Georgia-LSU game Saturday featured a pair of bloody noses in the final four minutes.
Georgia’s Nemanja Djurisic took an inadvertent chop to the face from LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant that dropped him to the court and knocked him out of the rest of the game. Then LSU’s Corban Collins crashed into the knee of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope while diving for a loose ball, and needed help to get off the court with a towel pressed to his face.
Georgia won 67-58 at home for its first SEC victory of the season.
Texas A&M has not only gone 0-2 since its 83-71 victory at Kentucky on Jan.
12, the Aggies have posted their two lowest scores of the season in a 68-47 loss to Florida at home and a 50-49 loss at Alabama. The 49 points at Alabama tied the Aggies’ second-lowest point total, first reached in a 70-49 loss to Saint Louis.
After taking a 15-3 lead at Alabama, Texas A&M scored just 34 points in the final 30:36.
Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stalling said he tried to call a timeout before the play that led to a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson that tied a game the Rebels eventually won 89-79 in overtime.
“Perhaps the result of our game would have been different had I been able to get that timeout in time,” Stallings said. “Quite honestly, that’s the second time that’s happened to me this year.”
Florida Coach Billy Donovan, whose record in 17 seasons at Florida is 400-160, joined Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp and LSU’s Dale Brown as the only men with 400 victories with one SEC team.
Donovan briefly accepted the head coaching job for the Orlando Magic in the spring of 2007 after winning back-to-back NCAA championships with the Gators, but returned to Florida five days later and resumed his pursuit of records.
“I love Florida,” Donovan said. “I love being here.
Certainly that was a challenging period a few years ago. I’m excited to be able to stay at a place like Florida as long as I have.”
Donovan has an overall record of 435-180.
Missouri’s 83-52 loss at Florida was the Tigers’ worst since a 100-63 setback at Kansas State on Feb. 16, 2008.
... Mississippi State’s 75-43 home loss to Alabama last week was the second-worst home loss in 37 seasons at Humphrey Coliseum. ... Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel blocked a career-high-tying seven shots in the Wildcats’ 75-53 victory at Auburn.
... Auburn’s 0-for-15 three point performance against Kentucky was the first time the Tigers didn’t make a three since an 0-of-14 game against Ole Miss on March 1, 1997.
Game of the week
KENTUCKY AT ALABAMA, 8 p.m. Central tonight, ESPNU
The league’s only 3-1 teams match up, with defending national champion Kentucky 2-0 in SEC road games and the Crimson Tide edging Tennessee and Texas A&M in its two games at Coleman Coliseum.
“You never go in expecting to win a league game by double-digits. … Most games are very tight. Am I surprised by it? I can tell you before the games started we probably are.” Florida Coach Billy Donovan on his team winning its four SEC games by 20-plus points
“This is the ultimate challenge in basketball to play here. … Every game you play is someone’s Super Bowl. Every game you play is sold out, at home and on the road, and if you don’t want that, this is not where you go.” Kentucky Coach John Calipari on Wildcats basketball
By the numbers
0 Three-pointers made by Auburn (in 15 attempts) in a 75-53 home loss to Kentucky
2 SEC teams with two home victories and two road losses in conference play (Arkansas, Missouri)
14 Consecutive victories for Kentucky vs. Auburn
Sports, Pages 18 on 01/22/2013