This week in the SEC: weekend edition

Just how important was Florida’s win over Memphis? Try a jump of 14 places in the RPI. The Gators went from #31 prior to their 77-75 win over the Tigers at Madison Square Garden to #17 and strength of schedule jumped all the way to #35.

The Gators need to finish out their non-conference schedule – Saturday vs. Fresno State in the Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise; December 29 vs. Savannah State at the O-Dome; and January 4 vs. Richmond at the O-Dome – with three wins and go into the SEC portion of the schedule with an 11-2 record. Savannah State will be a blowout but it will have a negative effect on the RPI in terms of schedule strength. Wins over Fresno State and Richmond will help the RPI since they are both top 100 teams.

Once into the conference schedule it gets harder to make gains in the RPI, so these next three games will indeed have an effect on the kind of seeding the Gators will receive from the NCAA in March.


Through 10 games: The Gators are 4-2 in games decided by eight or fewer points this season. They were 0-6 in all of 2012-13 in games decided by fewer than eight points.

Key stats: The Gators are holding opponents to 62.3 points per game and have held six of their 10 opponents to fewer than 61.

Scoring leaders: Casey Prather (18.7); Scottie Wilbekin (12.6)

Rebounding leaders: Dorian Finney-Smith (7.5); Casey Prather (5.9)

Best freshman: Kasey Hill (8.7 points, 3.8 assists)

RPI: 17

Strength of schedule: 35

Quality wins: Florida State (#68 RPI); Kansas (5); Memphis (40)

Bad losses: None.

Non-conference games remaining: Fresno State (#96 RPI); Savannah State (351); Richmond (66)




Through 10 games: The difference between 5-5 and 8-2 is an inability to win the close ones. Bama has lost in three overtimes to Drexel, by two on the road at USF and by five to Wichita State. The common theme in all three losses: if Bama could simply knock down shots in the last minute of a game the outcome could be different.

Key stats: 31.9% on 3-pointers; allows only 27.1% on 3-pointers

Scoring leaders: Trevor Releford (17.0); Retin Obasohan (14.5)

Best rebounders: Rodney Cooper (4.9); Nick Jacobs (4.9)

Best freshman: Jimmie Taylor (3.1 points, 4.2 rebounds)

RPI: 142

Strength of schedule: 31

Quality wins: None

Bad losses: South Florida (#161 RPI)

Non-conference games remaining: Xavier (#87 RPI); at UCLA (64); Robert Morris (218)



Through nine games: The Razorbacks will pay in the RPI department in their next three games. The toughest team the Razorbacks play as they complete their non-conference schedule is South Alabama with a 180 RPI, something that could hurt them at NCAA Tournament selection time.

Key stats: Arkansas has forced 175 turnovers while turning the ball over 123 times.

Scoring leaders: Michael Qualls (14.4); Alandise Morris (11.6)

Best rebounders: Bobby Portis (5.6); Michael Qualls (5.3)

Best freshman: Bobby Portis (11.5 points, 5.6 rebounds)

RPI: 60

Strength of schedule: 98

Quality wins: Louisiana-Lafayette (#76 RPI); SMU (80); Minnesota (48)

Bad losses: None

Non-conference games remaining: South Alabama (#186 RPI); High Point (303); Texas-San Antonio (349)


AUBURN (5-3)

Through eight games: Auburn broke a two-game losing streak with a win over Clemson Thursday night. Clemson (#125 RPI) is the best win for the Tigers so far.

Key stats: Opponents are shooting 46.6% from the field and 41.9% from the 3-point line against the Tigers.

Scoring leaders: Chris Denson (19.9); K.T. Harrell (17.8)

Rebounding leaders: Ashaun Dixon-Tatum (6.5); Chris Denson (5.6)

Best freshman: Tajh Shamsid-Dean (8.6 points, 3.3 assists)

RPI: 183

Strength of schedule: 205

Quality wins: None

Bad losses: Northwestern State (#181 RPI)

Non-conference games remaining: Boston College (#137 RPI); Arkansas-Pine Bluff (258); Florida A&M (297)



Through nine games: The Bulldogs are boring and it shows with home attendance – less than 5,000 for the last three home games. They might draw more people to Stegman Coliseum if they played decent teams.

Key stat: The Bulldogs have a four-game winning streak but the highest RPI of the four is Gardner-Webb at #230.

Scoring leaders: Charles Mann (13.5); Nemanja Djurisic (11.5)

Rebounding leaders: Donte Williams (6.5); Nemanja Djurisic (4.3)

Best freshman: Juwan Parker (5.4 points, 4.5 rebounds)

RPI: 311

Strength of schedule: 341

Quality wins: None

Bad losses: Georgia Tech (#150 RPI); Davidson (162)

Non-conference games remaining: Western Carolina (#242 RPI); at Colorado (4); at George Washington (35)



Through 11 games: Alex Poythress must be asking himself “what the hell was I thinking?” every time he looks himself in the mirror. He would have been a top 20 first round pick in last year’s NBA Draft but he’s only playing 17.7 minutes per game and averaging 4.5 points per game.

Key stats: Kentucky has more turnovers (149) than assists (138).

Scoring leaders: Julius Randle (17.2); Aaron Harrison (14.4)

Rebounding leaders: Julius Randle (11.4); Willie Cauley-Stein (8.1)

Best freshman: Julius Randle (17.2 points, 11.4 rebounds)

RPI: 36

Strength of schedule: 24

Quality wins: Eastern Michigan (#70 RPI); Providence (67); Boise State (41)

Bad losses: None

Non-conference games remaining: Belmont (#55 RPI); Louisville (45)


LSU (7-2)

Through eight games: The Tigers have won three straight thanks to outstanding defense. The last three opponents (Butler, Louisiana-Monroe and Texas Tech) have shot a combined 35.7%.

Key stats: LSU is outrebounding opponents 42.4-34.6 per game.

Scoring leaders: Johnny O’Bryant (14.6); Jordan Mickey (13.7)

Rebounding leaders: Johnny O’Bryant (8.6); Jordan Mickey (8.4)

Best freshman: Jordan Mickey (13.7 points, 8.4 rebounds)

RPI: 20

Strength of schedule: 30

Quality wins: Butler (#29 RPI); New Orleans (93)

Bad losses: None

Non-conference games remaining: UAB (111); McNeese State (274); Rhode Island (256)



Through 10 games: The 8-2 record looks good. The 331st toughest schedule in the country tells you the wins have come against cupcakes.

Key stat: Even though there is nothing to do in StarkVegas, the Bulldogs still haven’t drawn 7,000 for the nine home games.

Scoring leaders: Craig Sword (15.5); Gavin Ware (10.7)

Rebounding leaders: Gavin Ware (8.1); Roquez Johnson (4.9)

Best freshman: I.J. Ready (7.5 points, 3.0 assists)

RPI: 198

Strength of schedule: 331

Quality wins: None

Bad losses: TCU (#133 RPI)

Non-conference games remaining: South Florida (#161 RPI); Maryland-Eastern Shore (306)



Through 10 games: The Tigers are winning without much of an inside presence. Missouri’s best lineup is four guards and one post player.

Key stats: Opponents shoot 27.9% from the 3-point line; +11.1 rebounding margin

Scoring leaders: Jordan Clarkson (19.9); Jabari Brown (19.0)

Rebounding leaders: Johnathan Williams (8.4); Earnest Ross (5.6)

Best freshman: Johnathan Williams (6.5 points, 8.4 rebounds)

RPI: 24

Strength of schedule: 167

Quality wins: West Virginia (#85 RPI); UCLA (64)

Bad losses: None

Non-conference games remaining: Illinois (#24 RPI); at North Carolina State (104); Long Beach State (220)


OLE MISS (8-2)

Through nine games: When Marshall Henderson is hot like he was against Louisiana-Monroe (75-62 win), the Rebels can play with just about anybody. Guards Henderson, Jarvis Summers and Derrick Millinghaus are combining for 46.8 points and 7.1 3-pointers a game.

Key stats: In the win over Louisiana-Monroe, the starting bigs (Demarco Cox and Aaron Jones) combined for nine points and four rebounds.

Scoring leaders: Marshall Henderson (18.8); Jarvis Summers (15.7)

Rebounding leaders: Aaron Jones (6.8); Demarco Cox (6.6)

Best freshman: Sebastian Saiz (4.1 points, 5.5 rebounds)

RPI: 47

Strength of schedule: 92

Quality wins: Penn State (#83 RPI)

Bad losses: Kansas State (#172 RPI)

Non-conference games remaining: Mercer (#74 RPI); at Western Kentucky (125); Dayton (30).



Through five games: The Gamecocks can’t shoot and they have no inside game. Bruce Ellington is back with the team but he’s 5-9. What they need is someone 6-9 who can score and rebound.

Key stats: The Gamecocks shot only 75 3-pointers in their first six games. They launched 29 in their Thursday loss to South Carolina-Upstate.

Leading scorers: Tyrone Johnson (12.7); Sindarius Thornwell (12.2)

Leading rebounders: Mindaugus Kacinas (7.8); Michael Carrera (5.7)

Best freshman: Sindarius Thornwell (12.2 points, 3.5 rebounds)

RPI: 175

Strength of schedule: 22

Quality wins: None

Bad losses: Clemson (#151 RPI); South Carolina-Upstate (168)

Non-conference games remaining: at St. Mary’s (#9 RPI); Akron (75); Marshall (231); South Carolina State (325)



Through 10 games: Rotten point guard play cost the Vols against North Carolina State (65-58 loss). The Vols have an NCAA quality team at four positions but they are terrible at the point.

Key stats: In the loss to North Carolina State, point guards Antonio Barton and Darius Thompson were a combined 1-13 from the field with only three assists.

Leading scorers: Jordan McRae (19.7); Jarnell Stokes (13.7)

Leading rebounders: Jarnell Stokes (9.7); Jeronne Maymon (8.6)

Best freshman: Robert Hubbs (5.8 points, 1.8 rebounds)

RPI: 95

Strength of schedule: 80

Quality wins: Xavier (#87 RPI); Wake Forest (86)

Bad losses: UTEP (#200 RPI)

Non-conference games remaining: Morehead State (#174 RPI); Virginia (51)


TEXAS A&M (8-2)

Through 10 games: The Aggies are a weak 8-2. They’ve lost the only two games they played against teams with a top 100 RPI (Missouri State and SMU).

Key stats: Aggies allow only 61.7 points per game; 37% shooting by opponents

Leading scorers: Kourtney Roberson (13.4); Jamal Jones (10.1)

Leading rebounders: Kourtney Roberson (7.5); Antwan Space (6.2)

Best freshman: Shawn Smith (6.1 points, 3.3 rebounds)

RPI: 147

Strength of schedule: 286

Quality wins: None

Bad losses: None

Non-conference games remaining: Oklahoma (#46 RPI); North Texas (215); Texas-Pan American (332)



Through nine games: The Commodores don’t have an inside game and the outside game is very inconsistent. Leading scorer Eric McClellan is only 4-28 (14.3%) from the 3-point line.

Key stats: Vanderbilt is hitting only 62.7% from the foul line.

Leading scorers: Eric McClellan (15.7); Rod Odom (12.8)

Leading rebounders: Rod Odom (5.6); Eric McClellan (5.0)

Best freshman: Damian Jones (9.6 points, 4.7 rebounds)

RPI: 78

Strength of schedule: 112

Quality wins: None

Bad losses: None

Non-conference games remaining: Georgia Tech (#150 RPI), St. Louis (52); Northeastern (201)

Previous articleDrew Hughes new UF director of player personnel
Next articleWilbekin has grown into a star
Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.