Monday, February 15, 2016

SEC Update

It's interesting that just as I was reading Eric's reference to the return of the SI Vault, I was thinking that what happened to UK this weekend was like something out of those wild Curry Kirkpatrick days of writing about college basketball in the late 1970's and early 1980's.  The Cats, with a record of 8-3, went down to Columbia, S.C. to take on an 8-3 team of South Carolina Gamecocks.  The place was packed, and rowdy -- just as you would expect in a gym that has often been tough on the Big Blue.  Coach Calipari took exception to some early calls by the officials -- as you would expect from a UK coach who has already lost three SEC games on the road this season.  And, after less than 3 minutes, the officials informed Coach Cal that his presence was no longer required.  The SC folks got even more rabid, and it looked as though the game could be even more dramatic than the debate the GOP had scheduled for later that evening in the Palmetto State.

But it was not to be.  Behind Tyler Ulis -- who is quietly putting together one of the best years I can remember for a UK guard -- the Wildcats torched the Gamecocks, storming out to a 42-27 lead at the half, and rolling to an 89-62 victory.  Ulis had 27 points, 12 assists, and only 1 turnover.  Suddenly Ken Pomeroy sees the Cats as a national contender -- they've jumped up to 9th in the country in his rankings, the highest they've been since just before they lost to Ohio State back in mid-December.

UK's victory knocked South Carolina out of a tie for first place, but LSU kept pace with the Cats.  The Tigers sent Texas A & M to its fourth loss in a row, beating that Aggies in Baton Rouge 76-71 thanks to 16 points and 11 rebounds from all-everything freshman Ben Simmons.  

Meanwhile, the Vanderbilt Commodores -- who started off 0-3 in SEC play -- have gone 7-2 since.  On Saturday, Vandy went to Auburn and crushed Bruce Pearl's Tigers by the score of 86 to 57.  

Oh, and keep an eye on Avery Johnson's Alabama team.  The Tide have just won four in a row, and picked up a huge 61-55 win at Florida on Saturday.  That leaves the SEC standings looking like this:

9.  Kentucky:  9-3
57.  Louisiana St:  9-3

53.  S. Carolina:  8-4

22.  Texas A & M:  7-5
28.  Vanderbilt:  7-5
34.  Florida:  7-5
82.  Georgia:  7-5

75.  Alabama:  6-6
84.  Mississippi:  6-6

79.  Arkansas:  5-7
99.  Tennessee:  5-7

93.  Mississippi St:  3-9
202.  Auburn:  3-9

176.  Missouri:  2-10


  1. That win over South Carolina was unbelievable. I listened to it with a van load of Kentucky fans en route to Nashville, and it made for a very happy trip. I don't think I've ever heard Tom Leach sound so caught off guard by Kentucky's success.

  2. For the record, the GOP debate that evening turned out to be a hum-dinger.

  3. Replies
    1. Reading Tipton's coverage of Calipari is like reading National Review's coverage of Donald Trump.

    2. There was a "Roy of the Rovers" story line from the 1970's that all turned on a reporter who became convinced that Roy was playing selfishly, and putting his own interests ahead of the team. This was utter nonsense, of course, but the reporter caused all sorts of problems before Roy finally proved him wrong.

      That's where Tipton is today -- he acts like the villain in a 1970's sports comic book.

    3. Meanwhile, there is a considerable amount of talk on sports-talk radio in Kentucky the last several days about whether Coach Cal got himself tossed purposefully at South Carolina--maybe in order to show Kenny Payne as a head-coaching candidate, maybe in order to cement Tyler Ulis as the team leader, maybe in order to give this Kentucky team an us-against-the-world orientation, etc. I've heard several mentions of Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper and Hoosiers.

  4. I just want to point out that last night, in Starkville, Vandy led Mississippi State 62-46 with only 12:29 left in the game. A road win there would have moved Vandy to 8-5 in the SEC, and put them in a good position to make the NCAA's. Instead, they collapsed, losing 75-74.

    Ken Pomeroy's system ranks Vandy as the 29th best team in the country, but they are now 15-11 overall and 7-6 in the SEC, and their chances of making the tournament are now very shaky.