SEC Report:

South Carolina gets right in Florida

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Tuesday, January 8, 2019
South Carolina head coach Frank Martin communicates with an official during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018, in Columbia, S.C. Virginia defeated South Carolina 69-52. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
South Carolina head coach Frank Martin communicates with an official during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018, in Columbia, S.C. Virginia defeated South Carolina 69-52. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

(SEC report, for 1.8)

FROM TOP TO BOTTOM

RANK;*NET;TEAM (RECORDS);COMMENT

1;6;Tennessee (12-1, 1-0);Vols in the hunt for best season ever

2;15;Auburn (11-2, 0-0);Tigers open co-title defense at hot Ole Miss

3;18; Miss. State (12-1, 0-0);Another weak schedule, but Dogs look legit

4;13;Kentucky (10-3, 0-1);Cats couldn't cap late rally at Bama

5;35;Ole Miss (11-2, 1-0);Eight consecutive wins since loss to Cincy

6;26;LSU (10-3, 0-0);Tigers used four-guard starting lineup last game

7;54;Florida (8-5, 0-1);Gators have 5 losses coming into Walton Arena

8;71;Arkansas (10-3, 1-0);Opened with SEC road win for first time since '15

9;52;Alabama (10-3, 1-0);Tide snapped a 10-game skid vs. Kentucky

10;65;Missouri (9-3, 0-0);Scoring a league-low 69.1 points per game

11;62;Vanderbilt (9-4, 0-1);Allowed 49.1 percent shooting in loss to Ole Miss

12;173;South Carolina (6-7, 1-0);Won at Florida for the second year in a row

13;103; Texas A&M (6-6, 0-1);Aggies at league-low 28.3 percent from three-point arc

14;84;Georgia (8-5, 0-1);Allowing a league-high 72.5 points per game

  • The NCAA has instituted this year a new rating system called the NET Rankings, which is taking the place of the Ratings Percentage Index. An acronym for NCAA Evaluation Tool, the NET rankings take into account game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, net offensive and defensive efficiency, and the quality of wins and losses.

Game of the week

Tennessee at Florida, 5 p.m., Saturday (ESPN)

The Volunteers have a juggernaut on their hands under fourth-year Coach Rick Barnes. Florida, in its fourth season under Mike White, finds its back against the wall early after a home loss to South Carolina. The Gators face Arkansas at Walton Arena on Wednesday night in the interim.

QUOTEBOOK

"I guess league play's here." -- South Carolina Coach Frank Martin's opening statement after a 71-69 win at Florida

"We didn't compete and fight, and that is my biggest concern with this team. They work hard, but we need to learn how to play hard longer." -- Georgia Coach Tom Crean after the Bulldogs' 96-50 loss at Tennessee

"We didn't let [the media] in on it, but we needed to beat Kentucky. We needed to win this game." -- Alabama Coach Avery Johnson after a 77-75 victory over No. 13 Kentucky

By the numbers

3

Winning SEC road teams (Arkansas, Ole Miss, South Carolina) out of five openers Saturday

4

Consecutive road victories for Ole Miss at Vanderbilt

6

Unbeaten teams at home: Auburn, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Miss. State and Tennessee

14

Points South Carolina trailed by before rallying for a 71-69 victory at Florida

South Carolina clearly was the most disappointing SEC team in November and December with a 5-7 record entering conference play last weekend.

The Gamecocks now own an impressive SEC victory after knocking off Florida 71-69 on Saturday at ExacTech Arena in Gainesville, Fla.

Chris Silva jumped over two Florida defenders to grab an 80-foot inbound pass from Felipe Haase and put down an uncontested dunk with 2.5 seconds left for the game winner. South Carolina owns two consecutive victories over the Gators on the road.

Silva scored all 18 of his points in the second half after playing just four minutes due to foul trouble in the opening half.

Florida missed its final eight shots, and 11 of its last 12, during the late collapse.

Florida Coach Mike White has a 2-5 record against South Carolina in his four seasons, including a 77-70 victory by South Carolina in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight in 2017.

The Gators, who have not started 0-2 in SEC play since 2010, travel to Arkansas for their next game Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Blowout

Tennessee's 96-50 victory over Georgia on Saturday tied for the second-largest margin of victory against an SEC opponent for the Volunteers.

The No. 3 Volunteers have won their nine games at Thompson-Boling Arena by an average margin of 25.9 points per game.

Georgia made just 1 of 20 three-point shots (5 percent) in the resounding loss.

"I don't know if they wanted to shoot that many threes," Tennessee Coach Rick Barnes said. "They really are a hard-driving team, and our emphasis was trying to contain the dribble as much as we could and trying to stay in front of the ball."

Tennessee had 24 assists, its 10th game with 20-plus assists this season.

On the NET

The NCAA has replaced the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) for its evaluation of basketball teams and replaced it with the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) for the 2018-19 season.

The new ranking system was approved in July after months of consultation with the Division I Men's Basketball Committee, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, top basketball analytics experts and Google Cloud Professional Services.

The SEC has six teams in the top 50 of this week's NET rankings. They are Tennessee (6), Kentucky (13), Auburn (15), Mississippi State (18), LSU (26) and Ole Miss (35). The University of Arkansas is No. 71.

Loud crowd

Alabama Coach Avery Johnson gave big props to the crowd of 12,424 at Coleman Coliseum for Saturday's 77-75 victory over No. 13 Kentucky, the Tide's first victory over the Wildcats in 10 tries.

"I want to just say, to all our Alabama basketball supporters and fans that showed up and made a bunch of noise today, we can't thank you enough," Johnson said. "We talked about finishing the game with one more point than Kentucky."

Johnson pointed out that many Alabama fans were already in northern California for the No. 1 Crimson Tide's CFP Championship Game against Clemson on Monday night.

"No excuses. We're at home," Johnson said. "Yes, some of our fans are out in California, for a good reason. We like that. But the ones that showed up today, we can't thank you enough.

"The student section was rocking. A lot of students came back early for this game. So, just amazing."

Alabama won the rebounding battle 40-32, the Tide's 12th victory in 13 games in that department.

4 on the 'Dores

First-year Ole Miss Coach Kermit Davis has Vanderbilt's number.

Davis notched his fourth consecutive victory over the Commodores in Saturday's 81-71 decision in Nashville, Tenn.

It was also the Rebels' fourth consecutive victory over Vanderbilt at the Commodores' Memorial Gym.

Davis' Middle Tennessee State club won its last three games over Vanderbilt, in 2012, 2016 and 2018.

"We've talked about it since the first day I got the job, that we are going to be built for toughness to win on the road in the league," Davis said. "That was our battle cry, and it was our battle cry at Middle Tennessee."

The Commodores, a 72.6 percent free-throw shooting team entering the team, shot a season-low 17 of 29 (58.6 percent) from the line.

Four to come

Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri did not have SEC openers Saturday but will swing into action early this week, including three games today.

Missouri will host No. 3 Tennessee tonight at 6 on ESPNU for the Tigers' opener. LSU hosts Alabama at 8 p.m. (SEC Network), and No. 17 Mississippi State travels to South Carolina at 8 p.m. (ESPNU).

No. 12 Auburn tips off its SEC slate Wednesday with a 6 p.m. game at Ole Miss (ESPN2).

Yesiree, Tyree

Vanderbilt had trouble slowing down Ole Miss guard Breein Tyree in the Rebels' 81-71 victory in Nashville on Saturday. Tyree was named SEC Player of the Week after scoring a career-high 31 points on 11-of-16 shooting.

The 6-2 junior repeatedly broke down the Commodores' defense during crunch time at Memorial Coliseum. In the first 14 minutes, Tyree shot 6 of 6, including 3 of 3 from three-point range with a 30-footer thrown in, and scored 15 points.

Ole Miss won its eighth consecutive game since a 71-57 loss to Cincinnati at the Emerald Coast Classic in Destin, Fla., on Nov. 24.

No, Herro

Kentucky freshman Tyler Herro, the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, missed a three-point shot at the final buzzer that would have given the Wildcats a comeback victory at Alabama in a 77-75 loss Saturday.

Alabama led 72-61 with 3:11 remaining before the Wildcats began chiseling away due to Tide turnovers and shaky free-throw shooting.

34 is tops

Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe remains tied for the top scoring game in the SEC this season. The freshman from Fort Smith Northside scored 34 points in the Razorbacks' 121-89 victory over Florida International on Dec. 1. He connected on 11 of 14 shots, including 10 of 13 three-pointers.

Auburn guard Bryce Brown struck for 34 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including 6 of 13 from three-point range, in an 82-72 victory over Dayton on Dec. 8.

Blanked

Georgia's leading scorer, Rayshaun Hammonds, did not score during the Bulldogs' loss at Tennessee on Saturday. Hammonds was averaging 15.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, but managed no points on 0-of-4 shooting and 1 rebound in his 16 minutes against the Vols.

5-star fright

Vanderbilt's Simi Shittu, who survived unscathed after a dangerous fall Saturday, was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday.

Shittu averaged 19 points, 9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game last week, including a career-high 21 points against Ole Miss.

Vanderbilt already had lost five-star signee Darius Garland to a season-ending injury when Shittu flipped and landed on his back after a hard foul by Ole Miss' K.J. Buffen. However, Shittu got up quickly to the relief of the Vanderbilt faithful.

Tip-ins

• Alabama forward Donta Hall has three consecutive double-doubles in points and rebounds, the first Alabama player to achieve that feat in 11 years.

• LSU guard Tremont Waters is third nationally with 3.23 steals per game.

• Tennessee's Lamonte Turner played against Georgia on Saturday after missing the previous six games due to an injury.

Sports on 01/08/2019

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