As we did down the stretch with football, we’ll sit down each Monday and look at where things are and where they appear to be headed in the SEC with an assemblage of facts, stats, thoughts and opinions. So here we go:
East domination of West continues —– Through this past weekend the SEC had played 19 games matching up Eastern Division teams against squads from the West. Through those 19 games, the East has been a beast, winning 15 of 19 contests (.789). The “competition” has been so one-sided that as of this writing Arkansas and Auburn are tied for the Western Division lead with records of 3-and-4. By comparison Georgia, Vanderbilt and Kentucky all have 5-and-2 records in SEC play. That would be good for a two game lead in the West, but leaves them 1 ½ games behind the Gators in the more powerful Eastern Division. It’s reminiscent of four years ago when Mississippi State won the West with a mediocre 9-and-7 record. Meanwhile Kentucky (16-and-0), Florida (12-and-4) and Georgia (11-and-5) all had superior records in league play. That year the East had a 26-and-10 record against the West, a .722 wining percentage that is much lower than this year.
Home not as sweet —– It was a rough weekend for home teams as half the SEC games were won by visitors. Florida (@ Auburn), Arkansas (@ Alabama) and South Carolina (@ Miss State) all won away from home. At least the Western Division finally had one team win a road game. The SEC West is now 1-and-18 on the road in league play. Overall SEC teams are 29-and-10 in front of partisan crowds.
Baby needs help —– Glen “Big Baby” Davis is not the cause of LSU’s disappointing 13-and-7 record. The 6’8” forward is the only SEC player averaging a double-double (18.2/10.6). Sunday in the loss at Georgia, Davis was a horse, scoring 18, grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing out six assists. Other than Tasmin Mitchell (13.8 pts/g) no other Tiger is getting much done. After a surprising run to the Final Four last year, LSU is at best a bubble team at this stage of the season.
Coach of the year —– Three months ago Kevin Stallings was clearly the SEC coach on the hottest seat in the league. The Vanderbilt mentor had done okay in his seven years in Nashville, but just okay. He had guided Vandy to a single NCAA bid and four NIT invites and has yet to post a winning record in SEC play. Well, today, Stallings is being praised throughout college hoops. The ‘Dores have recovered from early season losses to Furman and Appalachian State to shoot out to a 5-and-2 SEC record heading into the O’Dome Wednesday night. Vandy has road wins over Kentucky and LSU and another over the Gators would give them a great shot at an NCAA bid.
UNCoach of the year —– Alabama’s Mark Gottfried has had a nightmarish start to the season. Not only is the very talented Alabama squad just 2-and-4 against SEC competition, they’ve been blown out in their SEC losses. The Crimson Tide lost to Arkansas by 27 and again by six (but the game was never in doubt), lost to Auburn by 24 and Vanderbilt by 21. The lingering ankle injury to point guard Ronald Steele has been a huge factor and Jermarreo Davidson does not seem to have recovered from personal tragedy during the off-season. The loser of Wednesday’s Alabama/LSU game in Baton Rouge is going to be in serious danger of going from top ten to NIT.