Monday, February 8, 2016

SEC Update

Here's what Johnny Jones has done at LSU since coming over from North Texas:

2013:  19-12 overall, 9-9 in the SEC (100th in Ken Pom)
2014:  20-14 overall, 9-9 in the SEC (58th in Ken Pom)
2015:  22-11 overall, 11-7 in the SEC (44th in Ken Pom) (9 seed in the NCAA's, lost in the first round of the tournament)

That's pretty good progress.  And then this year, LSU has Ben Simmons, a freshman who may be the number-one pick in the next draft.  So the Tigers appeared to be on an upswing.  But they got off to a terrible start, losing non-conference games to Marquette, North Carolina State, the College of Charleston, Houston, and Wake Forest -- none of which will get an at-large bid to the NCAA's.  So when SEC play began, Ken Pom had them ranked 95th in the country.

But since that time, the Tigers have gone 8-3, with their only losses coming at two of the best teams in the SEC (Florida and Texas A & M), and a two-point loss at home to Oklahoma, which is a major threat to go to the Final Four.  LSU is now up to 54th on Ken Pom, and is leading what appears to be a wide-open SEC race.  We haven't had one of those in a while.

Meanwhile, Kentucky suffered losses at two of the worst places you can play on the road -- Lawrence, Kan. and Knoxville, Tenn.  I actually thought the Cats played pretty well, but over those two games they were outscored 60-31 at the line -- which is not uncommon in those two gyms.  Back home against Florida, the Cats romped to an easy 80-61 win.  So with eight games left, they are still very much in contention.

Notice that Mark Fox once again has a not-very-good Georgia team grinding out wins.  In the last three seasons, Georgia has gone 29-17 in the SEC, which is amazing to me.

Auburn is actually ranked worse than it was last year, and worse than it ever was during the six years of the Jeff Lebo era (2005-10).  I'm surprised that Bruce Pearl hasn't made more progress down there.

Oh, by the way, home teams have won almost 73 percent of the conference games played in the SEC.  In no other conference are home teams doing so well:

54.  LSU:  8-2

19.  Texas A & M:  7-3
21.  Kentucky:  7-3
45.  S. Carolina:  7-3

28.  Florida:  6-4
78.  Georgia:  6-4

35.  Vanderbilt:  5-5
49.  Arkansas:  5-5
95.  Mississippi:  5-5

89.  Alabama:  4-6
96.  Tennessee:  4-6

174.  Auburn:  3-7

102.  Mississippi St:  2-8

190.  Missouri:  1-9

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