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5 Games, 2 Wins (1 Big) For SEC In Hoops

It wasn’t the best of nights for the SEC in basketball on Tuesday.  Two ranked teams won.  One lost to a Top 10 foe.  And two, well, two seemed to pick up where they left off last year.

Here’s a quick re-cap of all last night’s action:

Kentucky 75, Kansas 65

Another year, another class of freshmen ready to compete immediately with the best teams in the country.  But last night, it was a pair of sophomores who led UK to victory.  Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones poured in 17 and 15, respectively, as the Cats clawed past the Jayhawks with an early second-half spurt at Madison Square Garden.

“We don’t believe we have to truly play together yet,” John Calipari said of his ever-young team.  “It’s not talent that wins, it’s good teams that win.  This is not a good team yet.  We’re not bad, but we’re not a good team yet.  We’ve got good players, but we broke off every play.” 

And yet they still beat the #12 team in the country by double-digits.  If Calipari wants his freshmen to learn to play as a team, a loss might have actually been better in the long run, because last night will only give positive reinforcement to what Coach Cal believes is “not good” play.

Vanderbilt 80, Bucknell 68

That’s more like it.  With two starters out with injuries, the Commodores bounced back from this weekend’s upset loss to Cleveland State with a homecourt victory.  Last night Vandy had to play without John Jenkins, the SEC’s leading scorer a year ago.

“It was a huge game for us after the performance against Cleveland State,” Jeffery Taylor said after scoring a team-high 14 points.  “We were all real disappointed, kind of ashamed of it.  So we put an emphasis on this game to just play hard and kind of let everything else take care of itself.  We feel we’re talented enough offensively that if we play hard, then we’ll take care of most games.”

Five players hit double-figures for the Dores.

Ohio State 81, Florida 74

After a quick start, #7 Florida fell behind big to #3 Ohio State on the road.  As in 16 points big.  But facing a hostile crowd, the Gators managed to shoot themselves back to within five in the final minute of play.  Freshman star Bradley Beal led the Gators with 17 points.  Kenny Boynton added 15.

“Obviously, we got off to a really good start, which I think you want to do on the road,” Billy Donovan said.  “The difference was our defense in the first half was really, really good.  For a period of time there, shots were not going in for us and we needed to have a better resiliency in terms of understanding that we have to go back and play defense.

Coastal Carolina 71, LSU 63

Traveling to Coastal Carolina last night, Trent Johnson’s team looked no better equipped to handle the pressure of the road this year than last.  The Tigers were owned on the glass — despite a size advantage — as the Chanticleers pulled away with a 23-6 first-half run.

Coastal Carolina won in Baton Rouge last year, but three players who led the team in scoring in that game are no longer on the Chanticleers’ team.  With new faces, they still managed to outrebound the Tigers 53-34 and pull away for an eight-point win.

“It’s hard to win when you get outrebounded by 20,” Trent Johnson said.  Yes, and it’s hard to keep your job when you keep losing to Coastal Carolina.

Elon 58, South Carolina 53

Usually in the case of early-season losses, we say “pay no mind.”  Teams often look a lot differently in February than they do in November.  We don’t say, “pay no mind,” when the coach is trying to win back his fanbase and hold onto his job.  In those cases, early-season losses do hurt.  An losing to Elon is a bad early-season loss.

South Carolina became the first power-conference team to travel to and lose at Elon.  The Gamecocks — without footballing Bruce Ellington — missed all 12 of their 3-points shots in the first half and shot a chilly 31% from the floor on the night. 

USC did recover long enough to lead for one possession in the first half, but that was it.  Twice more Carolina closed to within a point in the second half, but they couldn’t get over the hump.

“I thought it would have changed things for both teams (if we could have gone ahead),” Darrin Horn said.  “Credit them; thy made some big shots when they had them.”

So Kentucky tops Kansas and Calipari says his Cats aren’t very good.  Florida and Vandy look as though they’ll be able to give UK a bit of a run in the SEC (depending on injuries).  And Johnson and Horn see their teams drop games to Coastal Carolina and Elon.

Is this a new season or just an extension of 2010-2011?


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