SEC Musings Near the Quarter Pole

While the Gators have this week off before resuming conference play against Ole Miss, most of the league was in action Tuesday and Wednesday as the SEC schedule reaches the one-fourth point of the season.

The Gators have played 18 games and have at least 15 more to play, counting just one SEC and one NCAA Tournament game. The Gators could play as many as 22 additional contests should the team reach the finals of both the SEC and NCAA Tournaments as they did last year.

So let’s take a look at what’s happening around the SEC and throughout the Gator program at what is pretty much the midway point of the overall season.

Home sweet home (UF) —– The Gators are 12-and-0 in the O’Dome this year and are six wins away from finishing just the second perfect season in the building. The 1993-94 Gators were 13-and-0 in the O’Dome.

Home sweet home (SEC) —– After 21 SEC games visiting teams are finding it very difficult to post wins. SEC home teams are 17-and-4 in conference play. All four SEC road wins have been claimed by Eastern division teams. Kentucky won at Auburn and South Carolina, Florida also won in Columbia while Georgia surprised Arkansas in Fayetteville. Tennessee could have made it five road wins, but let a 14-point second half lead get away in losing at Auburn.

69/70 numbers to watch —– Scoreboard watchers need to keep an eye on the total when the Gators play. Whenever the Gators score 70 or more points (16 times) they are almost certain to win (15-and-1). Whenever Gator opponents score 69 or less (14 times) the Gators are undefeated. That number was big last season when Florida was 26-and-1 when holding opponents to 69 or fewer points. The only exception in the last two year was the 68-62 loss at South Carolina.

East beats West —– Going into the season, most felt that the trio of Alabama, LSU and Arkansas was stronger than the top three teams in the Eastern Division (Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee). But early returns indicate the East is the beast in the SEC this year. In nine head-to-head games SEC East games are an impressive 7-and-2 with a pair of road wins. We’ll see how much longer this trend continues.

Bama Confusing —– No team in the SEC is harder to figure out than the Crimson Tide. Alabama returns an excellent big man in Jermareo Davidson and a great point guard in Ronald Steele. Add to that powerful forward Richard Hendrix, swingmen Alonzo Gee and Mykal Riley and you have five guys who average scoring in double figures every night. So how on earth has ‘Bama been blown out by Arkansas (88-61) and Vanderbilt (94-73)?

1,000 point club —– Entering the season all five Florida starters had a chance to reach the 1,000 point mark in career scoring this season. So far they are still in target, although a decent NCAA Tournament run would certainly help. Corey Brewer (924) should be the first to reach the milestone in about six games. He’ll be closely followed by Taurean Green (888) and Joakim Noah (876). Lee Humphrey (855) should be next with Al Horford (816) making it a quintet. 37 Gators have scored 1,000-plus points, but never have more than three reached that mark in the same season.

Free throw woes —– Much has been said and written about Florida’s struggles at the free throw line this season. The Gatos are making just 66 percent of their “freebies” on the season, and a miserable 57 percent in conference play. That compares with 74 percent and 77 percent a year ago. However, it’s not a team-wide epidemic. The primary issue has been with Gator big mean Joakim Noah and Al Horford. Noah is making just 58 percent on the year and a miserable 40 percent (6-for-15) in the three SEC games. Horford (57 % / 33 %) has been a little worse. Look for Florida’s veteran big men to step up and change those numbers in the very near future.

Double doubles —– Only player in the league is averaging a double-double and it’s no surprise. Glen “Big Baby” Davis of SU tops the SEC grabbing 10.9 rebounds a night. In fact, he is the only SEC player averaging double figures off the glass. Davis also scores 19.2 points a game, second only to Tennessee’s Chris Lofton in that category. Both numbers are up from last year when Davis was the SEC Player of the Year. A repeat is a virtual lock. No Gator has ever been chosen for that honor.