Thursday: 1st Round Recap
LSU 68 Georgia 63
With last Saturday’s game winning half court shot by Alabama’s Trevor Releford apparently still fresh on their minds, the Georgia Bulldogs limped out to a 20 point deficit at the half to the LSU Tigers. The Dawgs, then stormed out of the locker room and outscored the Tigers 44-29, cutting the lead down to two. That was as close as Georgia would get as Shayon Coleman, who led LSU with 24 points, held on for the win. Andre Stringer scored 16, and Johnny O’Bryant added 12 points and 12 boards. The Dawgs were led by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with a game high 32 points.
Next: LSU vs Florida will open Friday’s play. The Tigers are talented and balanced enough to give Florida problems for a while, but the Gators will move on to the Semis.
Tennessee 69 Miss St. 53
It wasn’t a good day at the SEC Tournament for Bulldogs. Mississippi State was sent back to the doghouse just as Georgia was, as Tennessee basically went through the motions in an easy 69 – 53 win.
The win kept the Vols in good shape to make the NCAA Tournament. I think the Vols are 3rd in the pecking order behind Florida and Missouri for a berth in the NCAA‘s. As for Thursday’s first round game, there isn’t much to say. Tennessee simply took care of business. Jordan McRae and Trae Golden, led the Vols, as usual. McRae scored 17 points and Golden added 15, as they get ready to play a huge game, Friday against Alabama. Craig Sword led MSU with 19 points, as their dismal season came to an end.
Next: Tennessee vs. Alabama is a game that some people are calling an NCAA tourney elimination game. I think that’s very possible, especially for Bama. The Vols and Tide split the two regular season meetings. Look for this game to go right down to the wire. Key to the game could be, can anyone for Bama guard Jordan McRae?
Vanderbilt 75 Arkansas 72
I thought Arkansas was a team that could give Kentucky a lot of problems Friday night. Well, we will never know, because Arkansas couldn’t get past Thursday. The Hogs continued their horrific play away from Bud Walton Arena, and lost to Vandy 75-72. The Razorbacks have lost 12 of their last 13 away from home. Vandy came out smoking and led by as many as 16 points. The Commodore’s are a very young team, so they let the Hogs back in the game, as young teams tend to do these days. However, even after having their lead cut to two, the Dore’s finished off Arkansas and now are set for a rematch of last years tourney championship game with Kentucky. Vandy who won last years title, were led by Rod Odom’s 20 points, Kyle Fuller’s 19, and Kedren Johnson’s 13. B.J. Young led the Hogs with 16.
Next: Vandy vs. Kentucky could be an interesting game. Vandy played UK well in both games this season, plus it’s hard to say what the Wildcats really are right now. They’re talented, but where’s the leadership? Calipari is very good getting teams ready for tourney play, but I’m not sure about this team. One things for sure, this is a must win game for Kentucky’s NCAA hopes.
Missouri 62 Texas A&M 50
Mizzou had an easy time in their first ever SEC tournament game, as they cruised against the Aggies. The Tigers are a lock to make the NCAA’s, so this game was more to secure their tourney seeding. I think Missouri is not only a major threat to win the SEC tourney, but I think they will be a very dangerous team in the NCAA tourney. Like a lot of other teams, the Tigers struggled away from home, but seem to have found their stride at the right time. The Aggies never threatened, as Mizzou was led by Alex Oriakhi’s 13 points and 10 apiece from Laurence Bowers, Jabari Brown, and Tony Criswell (a transfer from UAB). Fabyon Harris led A&M with 15 points.
Next: Missouri vs. Ole Miss looks like the best matchup of the day, along with Bama/UT. It’s a must win game for Ole Miss, if they want to make the Big Dance. The two teams split the regular season series. The Rebels beat Mizzou in Oxford, but that was Mizzou without Laurence Bowers. The Rebels may be the team that best matches up with the Tigers inside game, but even with SEC leading scorer, Marshall Henderson, Mizzou and Phil Pressey have the advantage at guard. Should be a very good game, but I think Mizzou moves on to the Semis.