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What We Learned About SEC Basketball Last Night

A few things were learned during last night’s SEC hoops contests.  Here’s your recap:

* It’s a lot more fun to watch games from the SEC East than the SEC West.  By now you’ve seen/read/heard just how terrible the West is.  Last night’s action provided more proof as Arkansas built up a huge lead on a very bad Auburn team — NCAA numbers guru Jerry Palm says the Tigers might be the worst major conference team in a generation — before letting AU climb back into things late.  John Pelphrey’s team went on a 21-1 run at one point to open up a 55-31 lead.  Yawn.  But Florida’s 104-91 double-overtime win at Georgia provided a stark contrast to Arkansas’ 73-64 victory.  The Gators and Dawgs were nip and tuck the entire way.  The math is pretty simple when it comes to East versus West this season: better teams = better games. 

* Florida appears to be coming into its own.  The Gators have now won three in a row and eight of their last nine.  Their only loss in that stretch was a three-point defeat at the hands of South Carolina.  More importantly, Billy Donovan’s team now owns road wins over East rivals Georgia and Tennessee.  Last night, Erving Walker and Chandler Parsons came through with 24 points and 12 boards, respectively.  Kenny Boynton also poured in 24.  But it was Walker who nailed a 30-footer to send the game into its second overtime.  The Gators are firing on all cylinders right now.  Next stop: Starkville on Saturday.

* Georgia just might not be ready for primetime.  We said that last Tuesday when Mark Fox’s team dropped a home game to Tennessee.  Now they’ve dropped another one at Stegeman Coliseum.  That’s not the way you win your division.  In fact, toss in a loss at Vandy and the Dawgs are just 1-3 versus their East rivals (with the lone win coming at home over Kentucky in their SEC opener).  UGA has lost three of its last five games.  “It was a devastating loss,” Travis Leslie said after last night’s overtime defeat.  “We just have to keep our heads up and keep fighting for it.”  Georgia kept fighting last night.  They erased an eight-point deficit in the final three minutes of regulation to force overtime and then built a lead in the extra period… only to see Walker drop his 30-foot three-pointer to extend the game (and ultimately doom the Dawgs) once more.

* For as many struggles as Arkansas has had this year, the Razorbacks are still 13-6 overall and 3-3 in the league.  In other words — they’re actually in decent shape in the West.  More remarkably, they’re now 12-0 in Fayetteville on the season.  Too bad there are so many empty seats around Bud Walton Arena these days ’cause the Hogs are playing pretty good basketball on their home court.

* Auburn may be AU-ful, but at least they’re not quitting.  Tony Barbee’s undermanned squad just doesn’t boast much firepower.  Against LSU, they had a six-point half.  Really.  Against Florida, the Tigers scored 40 for the game.  Last night they went more than 11 minutes without a bucket to open the second half.  That’s plain dreadful.  But still, down 55-31, Auburn went on a 33-15 run to climb to within six points in the final minute.  They’ve lost six games in a row and are winless in SEC play, but they still show signs of fight.  Credit them and their new coach for that much, at least.  Now, how long they’ll continue to fight?  That’s anyone’s guess.



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