SEC hoops: Team previews as league play begins

pobley@thestate.comJanuary 8, 2013 

ALABAMA

... Record: 8-5
... Best win:77-55 vs. Villanova
... Worst loss: 66-59 vs. Mercer
... Key player: G Trevor Releford (15.6 ppg, 2.8 apg)
... Comment: Hung in against then-No. 17 Cincinnati in a two-point loss, but a 3-point win over an awful Texas Tech is the long highlight since. Are 2-5 since a 6-0 start.

ARKANSAS

... Record: 9-4
... Best win: 81-78 vs. Oklahoma
... Worst loss: 77-70 vs. Wisconsin
... Key player: G BJ Young (17.7 ppg, 4.3 apg)
... Comment: Young and Marshawn Powell (15.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg) spearhead the nation’s No. 6 team in scoring offense (82.9 ppg). Three of the four losses are against RPI top-50 teams.

AUBURN

... Record: 6-7
... Best win: 78-72 vs. Florida State
... Worst loss: 74-67 vs. Winthrop
... Key player: G Frankie Sullivan (17.8 ppg, 3.4 apg)
... Comment: Auburn’s most impressive outing was a 2-point loss at Illinois on Dec. 29. Unfortunately, the Tigers also own three losses to sub-150 RPI teams.

FLORIDA

... Record: 10-2
... Best win: 82-49 vs. Marquette
... Worst loss: 67-61 vs. then-No. 25 Kansas State
... Key player: G Kenny Boynton (13.8 ppg, 2.7 apg)
... Comment: The Gators have played one of the country’s most difficult, if not flashy, schedules despite Boynton playing out of position at the point. He’s back at the off-guard position for the most part now.

GEORGIA

... Record: 6-7
... Best win: 64-56 vs. Southern Cal
... Worst loss: 68-56 vs. Youngstown State
... Key player: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (17.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg)
... Comment: Caldwell-Pope has been one of the league’s top players to date for a team that is on a four-game winning streak. That said, Georgia is 305th nationally with 60.6 ppg.

KENTUCKY

... Record: 9-4
... Best win: 72-69 vs. Maryland
... Worst loss: 64-55 vs. Baylor
... Key player: F Alex Poythress (14.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg)
... Comment: Even with the turnover in talent, it’s hard to imagine a Wildcat squad 0-4 against the RPI top 50. Maryland (54th) is the only school of note the Wildcats have dispatched to date.

LSU

... Record: 9-2
... Best win: 72-69 vs. Seton Hall
... Worst loss: 89-70 at Boise State
... Key player: F Shavon Coleman (14.1 ppg, 8.6 rpg)
... Comment: Coleman has been a delightful junior college find for the Tigers, who have a solid win against Seton Hall and a competitive defeat at Marquette.

MISSOURI

... Record: 11-2
... Best win: 82-73 vs. then-No. 10 Illinois
... Worst loss: 84-61 vs. then-No. 2 Louisville
... Key player: G Phil Pressey (13.8 ppg, 7.2 apg
... Comment: Missouri leads the country in rebounding (46.7 per game) and the 1-2 punch of Lawrence Bowers and Pressey (30.6 ppg combined) is among the best in the SEC. Only other loss came at UCLA in overtime (97-94).

MISSISSIPPI

... Record: 11-2
... Best win: 85-78 vs. San Francisco
... Worst loss: 87-85 vs. Indiana State
... Key player: F Murphy Holloway (15.8 ppg, 10.9 rpg)
... Comment: Losing to Indiana State, picked to finish 7th in the Missouri Valley, highlights just how weak the Rebels’ slate has been. Irmo’s Holloway is having a standout senior season.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

... Record: 5-7
... Best win: 78-58 vs. Florida Atlantic
... Worst loss: 59-57 vs. Alabama A&M
... Key player: F Roquez Johnson (12.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
... Comment: The runaway winner of the league’s worst start, the Bulldogs compiled their mark against a schedule strength that checks in at No. 271. Lost by 46 at North Carolina.

SOUTH CAROLINA

... Record: 10-3
... Best win: 74-62 vs. UALR
... Worst loss: 64-55 vs. Clemson
... Key player: Lakeem Jackson (10.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg)
... Comment: The guard-heavy Gamecocks have no wins against the RPI top 150 but will look to the returns of Bruce Ellington and Michael Carrera to spark them in SEC play.

TENNESSEE

... Record: 8-4
... Best win: 69-60 vs. then-No. 23 Wichita State
... Worst loss: 46-38 at Virginia
... Key player: G Trae Golden (11.6 ppg, 4.3 apg)
... Comment: Cuonzo Martin’s team struggles to put points on the board, as evidenced by their weird loss at Virginia, but they ugly up their opponents as well. Held Xavier to 47 points.

TEXAS A&M

... Record: 10-3
... Best win: 70-58 at Houston
... Worst loss: 53-51 vs. Southern
... Key player: F Ray Turner (12.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
... Comment: The loss to Southern, who was 4-6 at the time, was one of the league’s worst losses. The Aggies also rank below 230th in points and rebounds per game.

VANDERBILT

... Record: 6-6
... Best win: 73-49 at UTEP
... Worst loss: 50-33 vs. Marist
... Key player: G Kedren Johnson (16.6 ppg, 2.7 apg)
... Comment: The loss to Marist was the Commodores’ lowest point total in 30 years and highlighted their primary issue: the graduation of their top six scorers from a season ago.

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