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Feist Facts: SEC College Hoops
by Jim Feist - 02/14/2011
The SEC has a bunch of teams that are loaded with talent, depth and athleticism. Kentucky won the national championship in 1998, Florida knocked on the door in 2000 getting to the title game against Michigan State, the won it all with back-to-back titles. Here's a look at some of college basketball's best teams in the SEC. Florida: Coach Bill Donovan has been the king of the SEC in recent years, as well as the college basketball world, with back-to-back titles, and after a few rebuilding seasons the Gators look fierce. With all five starters back, Florida is the most experienced team in the SEC. The backcourt leads in scoring with junior Erving Walker (14 ppg) and sophomore guard Kenny Boynton (13 ppg), while 6-10 seniors Vern Macklin and Chandler Parsons work the low post. They do not play the run-and-gun style that Donovan prefers, second in the SEC in points allowed (62). The Gators are finding ways to win close games they lost in previous seasons, with an Alex Tyus block at the end of regulation at Tennessee, a miracle 30-footer from Walker to send a game at Georgia to double-overtime or clutch putbacks from senior forward Chandler Parsons against Kentucky. Florida is 5-3 in games decided by five points or less and 3-1 in overtime. The Gators are also on a 3-13 ATS run as chalk. Kentucky: The Wildcats have another talented and young team for coach John Calipari, with a powerful frontcourt of 6-8, 244-pound freshman Terrance Jones (17.6 ppg, 9 rpg) and 6-10 senior Josh Harrellson (8.7 rpg). Freshman guard Brandon Knight highlights a unit that is tops in the SEC in three-point shooting, over 40%. February has not been kind to the Cats, though, dropping back to back road games as a favorite at Ole Miss and Florida by 2 points each. Calipari commented, "We can get muscled and manhandled in the low post." Like many young teams they are great at home, but can struggle on the road. Alabama: The Tide is running away with the SEC West because of defense, tops in the SEC allowing 57 points and 36% shooting per contest. 6-8 junior JaMychal Green (15.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and 6-6 sophomore Tony Mitchell lead a quick team that leads the SEC in steals. Despite that great defense, this team is average on the road and on a 9-3 run over the total away. The Tide started 3-0 against the allegedly dominant SEC eastern bloc and 10-2 ATS against the SEC. Tennessee: Bruce Pearl is back after his 8 game-suspension from the SEC for lying to the NCAA. Tennessee leads the SEC in rebounding behind 6-10 senior center Brian Williams (7 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and 6-8 freshman Tobias Harris (14.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg). They got Pearl and leading scorer Scotty Hobson back last week (missing two games), but lost at Kentucky, 73-61. That was part of a 9-0 run under the total! Brian Williams, who had eight points and nine rebounds, said the team was excited to have Pearl back in the huddle. "Coach is one of the greatest motivators I've ever been around," Williams said. "This game is on the players." Tennessee has not been good when stepping up, losing in OT to Florida and Alabama, getting beat up by UConn and Kentucky, though they do have early season wins over Villanova and then-No. 3 Pitt. Georgia: The Bulldogs have a terrific talent in 6-9 junior Trey Thompkins, a local product who leads the team in scoring and rebounds. Georgia leads the SEC in assists with a pair of junior playmakers in Gerald Robinson and Dustin Ware. Georgia lost to Xavier last week for the third time in its last five home games, though three were against top-25 RPI teams. Georgia started 2-7 against teams in the top 50 of the RPI. They need to finish better if they want to take the next step. Georgia is on a 4-1 ATS run as a dog. Vanderbilt: Vandy has used sophomore guard John Jenkins to push the ball up the court, leading the SEC in scoring (78 ppg) and field goals (46%). Jenkins leads the SEC in scoring (19 ppg) and three-pointers made, plus ranks second in free throw shooting. Jenkins isn't the most athletic player, but he uses screens well to get open. They are 17-7 over the total in their last 24 games against the SEC.