Jerry Tipton: Sizing up the SEC

jtipton@herald-leader.comNovember 6, 2013 

Predicted order of finish

1. Kentucky; 2. Florida; 3. Tennessee; 4. Louisiana State; 5. Texas A&M; 6. Alabama; 7. Missouri; 8. Arkansas; 9. Mississippi; 10. South Carolina; 11. Mississippi State; 12. Georgia; 13. Auburn; 14. Vanderbilt

Pre-season awards

Player of the Year: Julius Randle, Kentucky. After John Wall (2010) and Anthony Davis (2012), believe the hype.

Pre-season All-SEC, first team: Andrew Harrison, Kentucky; Jordan McRae, Tennessee; Alex Poythress, Kentucky; Julius Randle, Kentucky; Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee

Pre-season All-SEC, second team: Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss; Jeronne Maymon, Tennessee; Johnny O'Bryant, LSU; Chris Walker, Florida; Patric Young, Florida

Pre-season All-SEC, third team: Jordan Clarkson, Missouri; Jarell Martin, LSU; Anthony Hickey, LSU; Trevor Releford, Alabama; James Young, Kentucky

All-SEC freshmen, first team: Aaron Harrison, Kentucky; Andrew Harrison, Kentucky; Jarell Martin, LSU; Bobby Portis, Arkansas; Julius Randle, Kentucky

All-SEC freshmen, second team: Kasey Hill, Florida; Dakari Johnson, Kentucky; Marcus Lee, Kentucky; Chris Walker, Florida; James Young, Kentucky

Coach of the Year: John Calipari, Kentucky

Comeback player: Jeronne Maymon, Tennessee

Best shooter: Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss

Best inside tandem: Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon, Tennessee

Fastest from Point A to B: Bruce Ellington, South Carolina

All-name: Craig "Chicken" Sword, Mississippi St.; Janari Joesaar, Ole Miss (juh-NARR-ee JOE-sar); Sebastian Saiz, Ole Miss (cy-EES); Antwan Space, Texas A&M. He's a 6-8, 232-pound transfer from Florida State; Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina; Dorian "Doe-Doe" Finney-Smith, Florida; Malcolm Canada, Auburn

Mr. Intangible: Alex Caruso, Texas A&M; Marcus Lee, Kentucky; and Will Yeguette, Florida

All man/child: Johnny O'Bryant, LSU; Julius Randle, Kentucky; Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee; Patric Young, Florida

All under-rated: Michael Carrera, South Carolina; Nick Jacobs, Alabama; Gavin Ware, Mississippi State

Best foreign born: Nemanja Djurisic, Georgia (via Montenegro)

Question marks

■ Can UK not only win the SEC, but make college basketball history by being the first team since Indiana in 1976 with an undefeated record?

■ Can Marshall Henderson provide steady leadership as well as flamboyant shooting?

■ Can Missouri replace Phil Pressey at point guard?

■ Can Alex Poythress blossom as a sophomore?

Relatively speaking

■ Georgia redshirt freshman Houston Kessler is the son of former Bulldog Chad Kessler and a nephew of the late Alec Kessler.

■ LSU guard Keith Hornsby is the son of pop music star Bruce Hornsby.

■ South Carolina freshman Reggie Theus Jr., is the son of former NBA star Reggie Theus.

■ Florida reserve Billy Donovan is the son of Coach Billy Donovan.

Quirky statistics

■ Arkansas has one NCAA Tournament victory from 2000 through 2013. In the 1990s, the Hogs won 25. After the one victory (in 2008), Arkansas lost its next game by 31.

■ Auburn lost 16 of its final 17 games last season.

■ Kentucky Coach John Calipari's streak of seven straight seasons of winning either the conference regular-season or tournament championships, or both, ended in 2012-13.

■ Georgia Coach Mark Fox has produced nine NBA Draft picks in the last seven years. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (eighth overall pick in 2013) is the highest pick from Georgia since Dominique Wilkins (third overall pick by Utah in 1982).

■ Tennessee's Cuonzo Martin and Kentucky's John Calipari are the only coaches who have defeated every SEC team at least once over the last two seasons. Martin also has beaten the defending national champs for two straight years (UConn and Kentucky).

■ Missouri is looking for its sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, which would be a school record. The Tigers have the longest streak of NCAA Tournament appearances among SEC programs.

■ Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes is the only returning player from a BCS conference team who averaged a double-double in league play last season. He averaged 13.1 points and 10.7 rebounds. The others were Jack Cooley of Notre Dame (12.4 ppg, 10.1 rpg), Gorgui Dieng of Louisville (11.2 ppg, 10.8 rpg) and Richard Howell of N.C. State (12.3 ppg, 11.4 rpg).

■ Mississippi State, 10-22 last season, hasn't had back-to-back losing records since 1987-88 and 1988-89.

Coaches on the hottest seats

■ Tony Barbee, Auburn. Auburn lost 16 of its last 17 games last season.

■ Mark Fox, Georgia. A.D. Greg McGarity has said he wants to see "improvement."

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: UKbasketball.bloginky.com.

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