SEC tournament capsules

semerson@macon.comMarch 11, 2014 

Kentucky Florida Basketball

Florida's Patric Young holds up a piece of the net after the Gators became the first team in Southeastern Conference history to go 18-0 in league play, Saturday, March 8, 2014 in Gainesville, Fla. Florida defeated Kentucky 84-65 Saturday in an NCAA college basketball game.

PHIL SANDLIN — AP

FAVORITE

FLORIDA

Record: 29-2 overall, 18-0 SEC.

Top players: Soph. G Michael Frazier (12.9 points per game, 97 3-pointers), Sr. G Scottie Wilbekin (12.9 points, 3.9 assists), Sr. F Casey Prather (14.6 points, 5.2 rebounds).

Head coach: Billy Donovan (441-168 at Florida, 479-188 overall).

Comment: This tournament might as well be called the Florida Invitational, given the way the Gators have dominated SEC play. The only question is whether they’ll be motivated enough, having also locked up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

CONTENDERS

KENTUCKY

Record: 22-9, 12-6.

Top players: Fr. F Julius Randle (15.4 points, 10.5 rebounds), Fr. G James Young (14.4 points, 67 3-pointers), Soph. F Willie Cauley-Stein (7.4 points, 6.3 rebounds).

Head coach: John Calipari (145-35 at Kentucky, 548-173 overall).

Comment: The Wildcats struggled to the finish in SEC play and are unranked in the polls after beginning at No. 1. But they still have the most pure talent, and they’ll have the most fans in Atlanta.

GEORGIA

Record: 18-12, 12-6.

Top players: Soph. G Charles Mann (13.4 points, 3.2 assists), Soph. G Kenny Gaines (13.4 points, 52 3-pointers), Jr. F Marcus Thornton (8.2 points, 6.0 rebounds).

Head coach: Mark Fox (83-75 at Georgia, 206-118 overall).

Comment: The Bulldogs have one of the hottest teams in the conference and might have a decent amount of fans. Their overall talent level isn’t in the upper half of the conference, but they’re playing well together.

TENNESSEE

Record: 20-11, 11-7.

Top players: Sr. G Jordan McRae (18.8 points, 73 3-pointers), Jr. F Jarnell Stokes (14.5 points, 10.3 rebounds), Sr. F Jeronne Maymon (10.2 points, 8.3 rebounds).

Head coach: Cuonzo Martin (59-39 at Tennessee, 120-80 overall).

Comment: The Volunteers are also hot, having won four in a row, and can come close to matching Florida and Kentucky in pure talent. The Vols also probably need at least one win to ensure an NCAA bid.

ARKANSAS

Record: 21-10, 10-8.

Top players: Jr. G Rashad Madden (12.7 points, 48 3-pointers), Fr. F Bobby Portis (12.4 points, 6.6 rebounds), Sr. F Coty Clarke (9.6 points, 5.8 rebounds).

Head coach: Mike Anderson (58-37 at Arkansas, 258-135 overall).

Comment: The Razorbacks won six in a row before laying an egg in their finale at Alabama. Still, the combination of athleticism and versatility makes the Razorbacks intriguing.

SLEEPERS

MISSISSIPPI

Record: 18-13, 9-9.

Top players: Sr. G Marshall Henderson (19.0 points, 120 3-pointers), Jr. G Jarvis Summers (16.9 points, 3.8 assists), Jr. F Aaron Jones (6.0 points, 6.7 rebounds).

Head coach: Andy Kennedy (170-100 at Ole Miss, 190-113 overall).

Comment: Last year the Rebels won the tournament after entering it needing to do so in order to get an NCAA bid. They’ll have to do so again, and if Henderson gets hot, anything is possible.

LSU

Record: 18-12, 9-9.

Top players: Jr. F Johnny O’Bryant (15.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, Fr. F Jordan Mickey (13.0 points, 7.6 rebounds), Sr. G Andre Stinger (11.9 points, 62 3-pointers).

Head coach: Johnny Jones (37-24 at LSU, 242-186 overall).

Comment: O’Bryant is one of the top post players in the conference, and if Stinger and Anthony Hickey pour in 3s, the Tigers have a chance to win any game. But doing so four games in a row will be tough.

MISSOURI

Record: 21-10, 9-9.

Top players: Jr. G Jabari Brown (19.7 points, 75 3-pointers), Jr. G Jordan Clarkson (18.1 points, 3.2 assists), Sr. G Earnest Ross (13.5 points, 6.1 rebounds).

Head coach: Frank Haith (74-26 at Missouri, 203-127 overall).

Comment: Missouri is one of the most disappointing teams in the SEC and needs at least one win and perhaps more to remain in contention for an NCAA bid. The Tigers didn’t show much life down the stretch, so perhaps the tournament will spark them.

LONGSHOTS

TEXAS A&M

Record: 17-10, 8-10.

Top players: Jr. G Jamal Jones (13.4 points, 75 3-pointers), Jr. F Kourtney Roberson (9.7 points, 6.7 rebounds), Soph. G Alex Caruso (8.6 points, 4.7 assists).

Head coach: Billy Kennedy (49-43 at Texas A&M, 260-222 overall).

Comment: The Aggies fit the definition of a mediocre team during SEC play. They could win their opener vs. Missouri but stand little chance in a quarterfinal against Florida.

ALABAMA

Record: 13-18, 7-11.

Top players: Sr. G Trevor Releford (18.8 points, 71 3-pointers), Jr. G Levi Randolph (9.5 points, 3.8 rebounds), Fr. F Shannon Hale (8.8 points, 3.6 rebounds).

Head coach: Anthony Grant (98-65 at Alabama, 175-95 overall).

Comment: The Crimson Tide finished relatively strong, with three wins in their final five. But those three were in Tuscaloosa, and this tournament is in Atlanta.

VANDERBILT

Record: 15-15, 7-11.

Top players: Soph. G Eric McClellan (14.3 points, 4.4 rebounds), Sr. F Rod Odom (13.6 points, 82 3-pointers), Fr. C Damian Jones (11.1 points, 5.7 rebounds).

Head coach: Kevin Stallilngs (292-191 at Vanderbilt, 415-254 overall).

Comment: The Commodores enter having lost four straight, although each loss was to good competition. The Commodores should be able to roll in their opener, but beating Ole Miss in the second round would be an upset.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Record: 12-19, 5-13.

Top players: Sr. G Brenton Williams (15.2 points, 87 3-pointers), Fr. G Sindarius Thornwell (15.2 points, 3.0 assists), Soph. F Michael Carrera (6.3 points, 5.7 rebounds).

Head coach: Frank Martin (26-37 at South Carolina, 143-91 overall).

Comment: The Gamecocks looked better the second half of the season, knocking off Kentucky along the way. Still, a first-round win would draw Arkansas on Thursday, and that would be difficult, to say the least.

AUBURN

Record: 14-15, 6-12.

Top players: Sr. G Chris Denson (19.2 points, 4.4 rebounds), Jr. G KT Harrell (18.4 points, 63 3-pointers), Sr. C Asauhn Dixon-Tatum (5.9 points, 6.1 rebounds).

Head coach: Tony Barbee (49-74 at Auburn, 131-116 overall).

Comment: Denson and Harrell can light up the scoreboard, and the Tigers have shown flashes at times, beating Georgia and nearly beating Florida. But the overall result has been bad, and Barbee’s job is in serious jeopardy.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

Record: 13-18, 3-15.

Top players: Soph. G Craig Sword (13.4 points, 2.6 assists), Soph. F Gavin Ware (10.0 points, 7.2 rebounds), Jr. F Roquez Johnson (9.5 points, 4.6 rebounds).

Head coach: Rick Ray (23-40 overall, all at Mississippi State).

Comment: The Bulldogs enter on a 13-game losing streak, 10 by double digits. One win in the tournament would be a surprise, two would be a miracle.

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