Time for SEC to beat up on itself with start of league play

November and December are for beating up on the other guys. Starting today, the SEC has only itself to beat up on in men's basketball.

It's a significant demarcation in the eyes of the NCAA tournament selection committee that will bunker in March and draw up with a bracket.

How well did the SEC do in fashioning its non-conference resume? South of Lexington, not so hot.

The SEC went 3-8 against top-10 non-conference foes. Kentucky knocked off North Carolina and Louisville, which leaves only LSU's win over No. 10 Marquette in the plus column.

Overall, the SEC was a modest 8-14 against ranked teams. Kentucky had three of the wins, Mississippi State two. Tennessee was 0-3.

In this sense, the SEC misses Bruce Pearl. The deposed UT coach was good for the league's RPI.

Excluding NCAA tournament play, in Pearl's six seasons, the Vols produced five non-conference wins over top-10 teams — two of them over No. 1-ranked teams — went 3-3 against top-5 teams and 10-8 against all ranked non-conference opponents.

Now, on with the SEC season.

Kentucky

Record: 14-1

RPI/Strength of schedule: 11/73.

Best win: North Carolina.

Only loss:Indiana.

Noteworthy: Super signee Anthony Davis is being pushed by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as the SEC's top freshman. The 'Cats rank second in the nation in FG-percent defense and first nationally in blocked shots.

Mississippi State

Record: 13-2

RPI/SOS: 51/137.

Best win: Arizona.

Worst loss: Akron.

Noteworthy: Transfer Arnett Moultrie is averaging 16.8 ppg and 11.4 rebounds and freshman Rodney Hood is averaging 12.3 points, which means Renardo Sidney is only the third-most productive big man for the Bulldogs.

Florida

Record: 12-3

RPI/SOS: 36/96.

Best win: Texas A&M.

Worst loss: Rutgers.

Noteworthy: Freshman guard Bradley Beal is as good as advertised, averaging 14.5 ppg and leading the team at 34 minutes a game, even though the backcourt includes veterans Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker.

Alabama

Record: 10-3

RPI/SOS: 18/20.

Best win: Purdue.

Worst loss: Dayton.

Noteworthy: The best All-Trevor backcourt in America is Trevor Releford (12.4 ppg) and freshman Trevor Lacey (6.7 ppg). Bbut the Tide's strength is still inside with JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell. The Achilles' heel is 27.2-percent shooting from 3-point range.

Arkansas

Record: 11-3

RPI/SOS: 113/245.

Best win: Oakland.

Worst loss: Houston.

Noteworthy: New coach Mike Anderson lost his best player, forward Marshawn Powell, for the season but at least the Razorbacks had an easy non-conference schedule against which to recalibrate. Julysses Nobles is the only returning starter.

LSU

Record: 10-4

RPI/SOS: 86/129.

Best win: Marquette.

Worst loss: So. Alabama.

Noteworthy: Freshman guard Anthony Hickey is a nice addition at 8.8 ppg and 53 assists. The good news? LSU ranks 37th in FG defense, holding opponents to 38.4 percent. The bad news? The Tigers are 275th in FG offense at 40.5 percent.

Auburn

Record: 10-4

RPI/SOS: 194/332

Best win: Hawaii.

Worst loss: Florida St.

Noteworthy: The record is inflated. The Tigers have played one of the weakest schedules in the nation. Texas transfer Varez Ward is one of five players averaging between 12.6 and 9.4 points a game.

Vanderbilt

Record: 10-4

RPI/SOS: 45/21.

Best win: Marquette.

Worst loss: Indiana St.

Noteworthy: Home losses to Cleveland State, Indiana State and Xavier raise a red flag. The absence of injured center Festus Ezeli for all but four games is only a partial explanation. The 'Dores have their top seven scorers back, including John Jenkins (20.5 ppg) and Jeffery Taylor (17.5).

Ole Miss

Record: 10-4

RPI/SOS: 47/62.

Best win: Miami.

Worst loss: Dayton.

Noteworthy: Dismissing co-leading scorer Dundrecous Nelson this week further complicates the Rebels' offensive challenges. They miss the shooting of departed seniors Chris Warren and Zach Graham and are hitting only 28.2 percent from 3-point range. But they've cobbled together a nice pre-conference season despite no outstanding statistical categories.

Georgia

Record: 9-5

RPI/SOS: 102/98.

Best win: Notre Dame.

Worst loss: Colorado.

Noteworthy: Freshman guard Kentavius Caldwell-Pope leads the Bulldogs in scoring at 14.1 ppg. With Gerald Robinson and Dustin Ware ranked second and third, respectively, this is a perimeter-oriented offense.

South Carolina

Record: 8-6

RPI/SOS: 180/177.

Best win: Clemson.

Worst loss: Tennessee State.

Noteworthy: The Gamecocks need to get point guard Bruce Ellington back in basketball shape now that he's finished with football. Forward Malik Cooke is averaging 13.1 ppg but there isn't much else in the South Carolina offense repertoire to scare anyone.

Tennessee

Record: 7-7

RPI/SOS: 273/266.

Best win: Chattanooga.

Worst loss: Austin Peay.

Noteworthy: Points are relatively easy to come by, both for the Vols and their opponents. Unless Tennessee finds a way to get better defensively, wins will be hard to come by in league play. Brand new freshman Jarnell Stokes is the X factor.

Follow Mike Strange at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 24

HtownVol writes:

Time for UT's bigs to get dominated.

Sorry to say it but we all know it is true.

Does anyone think UT wins over 4 in the SEC??

Have not seen much effort this season.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I think we can beat anybody a home. I really do regardless of the challenges. That will easily get us over 4 wins. We can beat S. Carolina I think on the road(don't know where we play anybody at this point). We can take one from Georgia. We CAN take one from Vandy. We can take today's game simply because it's early for Florida too. Well if we can find a Defense we can play with anybody BUT Fl. and Ky.(possibly Miss.St.). Today a win would be a huge upset. What difference Stokes will make remains to be seen. Honestly though it's fun trying to figure all this out even though I don't have a clue right now how we'll pull some big wins off. Cuonzo? I like the zone.lol

Katphan29 writes:

Think Blue :-)

FanNotSheep writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

I think we can beat anybody a home. I really do regardless of the challenges. That will easily get us over 4 wins. We can beat S. Carolina I think on the road(don't know where we play anybody at this point). We can take one from Georgia. We CAN take one from Vandy. We can take today's game simply because it's early for Florida too. Well if we can find a Defense we can play with anybody BUT Fl. and Ky.(possibly Miss.St.). Today a win would be a huge upset. What difference Stokes will make remains to be seen. Honestly though it's fun trying to figure all this out even though I don't have a clue right now how we'll pull some big wins off. Cuonzo? I like the zone.lol

We can beat anybody at home, huh? We didn't beat Austin Peay. Now we are going to beat Florida and Kentucky?

Can you post again tonight around bedtime and tell me the one about the three bears?

FanNotSheep writes:

Oh, by the way, it's great to see that the SEC is going to miss Pearl. All of college basketball is going to miss the fun and excitement he brought to the game. Thompson-Boling is a morgue now. Even Pearl sometimes struggled to get the football fans into the action -- you know, the ones who couldn't really understand why the players were on a court and not wearing helmets. And of course the moms who brought the little kids and frowned at anyone who actually did try to support the team in any vocal manner.

I do remember when Jujuan Smith would grab an errant pass from one of Kentucky's players who was confused by Pearl's swarming defensive scheme, throw the ball halfway down the court to Lofton, who would toss it back to Smith for a tremendous dunk, and even the babysitting moms would cheer. TBA actually rocked sometimes back then.

But now it's like someone died. Actually something did. Sooner or later people will figure out that not running a recruit who could take your program to the Final Four out of your barbecue and telling a lie do not add up to a felony and definitely did not warrant the punishment.

Maybe if the NCAA had not wasted time sniffing around harmless barbecues and investigated truly hideous crimes being committed in the Penn State showers, college athletics would not be in the sorry state it now finds itself.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Anyone still think the media was nuts for picking us 11th in the SEC? Didn't think so. Media is smarter than we give them credit.

wigmeister writes:

Hard to win when your shooters throw up bricks all game long. Hope Stokes will change some of that in the front court when he is ready to play. It is simple. If you cannot score points, you will not win! CCM needs to recruit pure shooters. As for the media, you always have to take what they say or write with careful skepticism.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

wow...wonder if CCM can coach NOW?!?

FanNotSheep writes:

I admit I was wrong. I still don't understand how this team can lose to Austin Peay and beat Florida.

Congratulations to Coach Martin and the team. You sure brought your A game today.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it:

wow...wonder if CCM can coach NOW?!?

...and BTW, to the guy who said they'd never win more than 1 game in January...guess you'd better hope they lose the rest!

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to FanNotSheep:

I admit I was wrong. I still don't understand how this team can lose to Austin Peay and beat Florida.

Congratulations to Coach Martin and the team. You sure brought your A game today.

NO "I told you so's" ,but UT wasn't the only team that slipped coming out of the gate.. great win today!

devo-evol writes:

in response to HtownVol:

Time for UT's bigs to get dominated.

Sorry to say it but we all know it is true.

Does anyone think UT wins over 4 in the SEC??

Have not seen much effort this season.

well this is just terrible. we have a terrible coach, our players are all disappointments, martin can't recruit 5* players, we will never win an sec game. i was just watching the game and UT scored more points than UF but borntolose has already put it in the loss column so it doesn't count as a win. we ought to rest our players till we can win a game. our negative nancy "fans" have already put losses on our record for the next 4 games so lets just wait till after those games to play. no need for our players to expend so much energy if they are just losses. to bad there is no such thing as an upset.

movinonup writes:

in response to FanNotSheep:

We can beat anybody at home, huh? We didn't beat Austin Peay. Now we are going to beat Florida and Kentucky?

Can you post again tonight around bedtime and tell me the one about the three bears?

Bedtime Baby !!!!!!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to FanNotSheep:

We can beat anybody at home, huh? We didn't beat Austin Peay. Now we are going to beat Florida and Kentucky?

Can you post again tonight around bedtime and tell me the one about the three bears?

Yep. we do beat Florida. lol

devo-evol writes:

in response to FanNotSheep:

I admit I was wrong. I still don't understand how this team can lose to Austin Peay and beat Florida.

Congratulations to Coach Martin and the team. You sure brought your A game today.

don't bother jumpinig on the bandwagon now. we are so terrible and our coach can't coach and we all figured that out in about 6 games. you know there is no such thing as improvement and upsets in basketball. we should have fired him before the sec started right? isn't that what every "real fan" said? i don't know why i bother to watch because we will never win another game as long as martin is coaching. isn't that what the "realistic fans" said? we jus need to face the facts that this team is terrible?

samvol writes:

nice win vols...
GoVols....
GoZo....

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to FanNotSheep:

Oh, by the way, it's great to see that the SEC is going to miss Pearl. All of college basketball is going to miss the fun and excitement he brought to the game. Thompson-Boling is a morgue now. Even Pearl sometimes struggled to get the football fans into the action -- you know, the ones who couldn't really understand why the players were on a court and not wearing helmets. And of course the moms who brought the little kids and frowned at anyone who actually did try to support the team in any vocal manner.

I do remember when Jujuan Smith would grab an errant pass from one of Kentucky's players who was confused by Pearl's swarming defensive scheme, throw the ball halfway down the court to Lofton, who would toss it back to Smith for a tremendous dunk, and even the babysitting moms would cheer. TBA actually rocked sometimes back then.

But now it's like someone died. Actually something did. Sooner or later people will figure out that not running a recruit who could take your program to the Final Four out of your barbecue and telling a lie do not add up to a felony and definitely did not warrant the punishment.

Maybe if the NCAA had not wasted time sniffing around harmless barbecues and investigated truly hideous crimes being committed in the Penn State showers, college athletics would not be in the sorry state it now finds itself.

Eat your words. You obviously don't have enough confidence in my team.

"Once upon a time there were 3 bears...Uhh I mean guards from Florida who just didn't have enough punh today to beat the Vols. How's my version of the 3 bears? Nighty night sleep tight.

All our fans ask is to play hard really. Today we played much harder than the Gators.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

hmmm "didn't have enough punch" not Punh!!? Please have your fun with that miss type. KNS I promise it was an accident.

VolGrad writes:

Something about playing Florida.... This was a total 180 degree turn from the Memphis game. Overall, great defense throughout the game. Offensively, I didn't think we'd be able to score inside too much against Florida's bigs. I was mistaken.

Congrats to my Vols! GBO!!!

wigmeister writes:

Played hard. Shot better. Hope for the future?

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

in response to Orange_A_Holic:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Most UT fans expected a loss. I am happy to eat this delicious crow, tastes great!!!

GBO !!

Bubba_Knows writes:

in response to VolGrad:

Something about playing Florida.... This was a total 180 degree turn from the Memphis game. Overall, great defense throughout the game. Offensively, I didn't think we'd be able to score inside too much against Florida's bigs. I was mistaken.

Congrats to my Vols! GBO!!!

Don't make too much out of this game because this was more about Florida playing poorly than it was about Tennessee playing good. The defensive pressure by Martin to take away the 3's was impressive though I must admit.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Bubba_Knows:

Don't make too much out of this game because this was more about Florida playing poorly than it was about Tennessee playing good. The defensive pressure by Martin to take away the 3's was impressive though I must admit.

And if Florida doesn't make threes, they don't play well. Which Martin knew and schemed against. Sometimes a team plays badly because the opposition doesn't let them do what they do best. Your argument reminds me of when I was in the Army playing pick-up in the post gym against some kid from some northern city who thought he was "all that". Over the course of an afternoon, my team beat his about five straight games, I blocked at least a dozen of his shots, and hardly missed any myself. At the end, all the kid could do was sputter, "You just lucky, man!" before stalking off, never to be seen in that gym again.

FanNotSheep writes:

in response to devo-evol:

don't bother jumpinig on the bandwagon now. we are so terrible and our coach can't coach and we all figured that out in about 6 games. you know there is no such thing as improvement and upsets in basketball. we should have fired him before the sec started right? isn't that what every "real fan" said? i don't know why i bother to watch because we will never win another game as long as martin is coaching. isn't that what the "realistic fans" said? we jus need to face the facts that this team is terrible?

Not a bandwagon jumper. Just giving credit where it is due. I would still rather have Pearl but that ain't gonna happen. I will always say UT made a mistake and over-reacted when they dumped him. I never had anything against the new coach, he just wasn't Pearl. I wish Martin well and hope I get to eat more crow after every game.

But I wouldn't make NCAA reservations just yet.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features