Nick Richards: ‘We go to Kentucky. ... We have to live up to the name’
After the first week of the regular season, here’s a team-by-team look at how SEC basketball teams have started 2018-19:
Alabama: The Crimson Tide opened with an 82-62 win over Southern and an 81-73 victory over Appalachian State. Freshman Kira Lewis Jr. scored 21 points in the win over Appy State. The Tide was 26 of 43 from the foul line in the win. Next up, Bama plays at Northeastern on Thursday.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks lost a tough opener, falling 73-71 in overtime to Texas in the Armed Forces Classic last Friday. Sophomore center Daniel Gafford scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the defeat. Freshman guard Isaiah Joe added 17 for Mike Anderson’s club. Arkansas plays UC Davis on Monday night before welcoming Indiana to Fayetteville next Sunday.
Auburn: Bruce Pearl’s club, ranked No. 9, is off to an impressive 2-0 start with wins over South Alabama (101-58) and Washington (88-66). Sophomore Chuma Okeke scored 39 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in the two games. Center Austin Wiley made his long-awaited return against Washington, scoring five points and grabbing one rebound in 13 minutes. Wiley sat out last season as part of the FBI investigation into college basketball.
Florida: The Gators opened with a dud, falling 81-60 to archrival Florida State last Tuesday. Mike White’s club rebounded to beat Charleston Southern 76-46 on Friday. Florida has had trouble behind the three-point line, making just six of 24 against Florida State and eight of 28 against Charleston Southern. The Gators play visiting LaSalle on Wednesday.
Georgia: Tom Crean’s debut as Georgia’s new basketball coach was a successful one with a 110-76 romp over Savannah State last Friday. Sophomore guard Teshaun Hightower led the way with 18 points. The Dawgs have a tougher task on Tuesday when they travel to Temple.
Kentucky: The Cats are still trying to shed the shock of being blown out 118-84 by Duke in the Champions Classic last Tuesday. They did rally from a seven-point second-half deficit to beat Southern Illinois 71-59 on Friday, but John Calipari’s club dropped from No. 2 to No. 10 in the AP Top 25 on Monday. UK plays North Dakota in a 9 p.m. tip on Wednesday in Rupp Arena.
LSU: The No. 22 Tigers are off to a 2-0 start with a 94-63 win over Southeast Louisiana and a 97-91 victory over a UNC Greensboro team that visits Kentucky on Dec. 1. Freshman forward Naz Reid scored 29 points in the win over Greensboro. The 6-foot-10 New Jersey native has scored 46 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in his first two games. Tremont Waters produced 21 points and six assists in the win over UNCG. LSU meets Memphis on Tuesday in a 7 p.m. game on the SEC Network.
Mississippi State: Ben Howland’s club is two-for-two after wins over Austin Peay (95-67) and Hartford (77-59). Senior guard Quinndary Weatherspoon scored 43 points in the two wins for the 17th-ranked Bulldogs. He was credited with six steals against Hartford. Sophomore forward Abdul Ado grabbed 10 rebounds in that game. MSU plays Long Beach State on Friday.
Missouri: After a 68-55 opening-game win over Central Arkansas, Mizzou took it on the chin at Iowa State, falling 76-59. Iowa State was 24 of 35 from the foul line, compared to Missouri’s 12-of-17. Sophomore guard Mark Smith scored 15 points in the loss. Remember, the Tigers are without Jontay Porter, who tore his ACL in the preseason. They play Kennesaw State on Friday.
Ole Miss: Kermit Davis had a successful debut as the Rebels’ coach thanks to a 90-64 win over Western Michigan on Saturday. Ole Miss shot 54.1 percent from the floor and was 10 of 22 from three-point range. Terence Davis led the way with 17 points. The Rebels are at Butler on Friday. Fox Sports 2 has the 8 p.m. telecast.
South Carolina: Frank Martin was probably fuming after his team’s 83-81 home loss to Stony Brook on Friday. Free throws killed the home team. The Gamecocks were just 14 of 26 from the foul line. And Chris Silva was held to just seven points. That followed their 65-52 win over South Carolina Upstate in the opener. USC plays Norfolk State on Tuesday.
Tennessee: So far, so good for Rick Barnes’ fifth-ranked Volunteers. Tennessee handled Lenoir Rhyne 86-41 in its opener, then knocked off Louisiana-Lafayette 87-65. Grant Williams scored 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against ULL as Tennessee shot 54 percent from the floor. Next up, Tennessee plays Georgia Tech on Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling. ESPN2 has the 9 p.m. telecast.
Texas A&M: It could be a tough year for Billy Kennedy’s Aggies. After a 98-83 win over Savannah State in the opener, A&M fell 74-73 to UC Irvine on Friday. The Aggies shot just 36.4 percent from the floor, including 21.4 percent from three-point range, where they were six of 28. Josh Nebo came off the bench to score 15 points. It won’t get any easier on Thursday when the Aggies travel to No. 3 Gonzaga.
Vanderbilt: Bryce Drew’s young Commodores are off to a 2-0 start with wins over Winthrop (92-79) and Southern Cal (82-78) in Los Angeles). Freshman guard Darius Garland has scored 43 points in the two wins, including 24 at USC. He’s six of 12 from three-point range. Fellow freshman Simisola Shittu has 32 points and 25 rebounds over the first two games. Vandy plays host to Alcorn State on Friday.
SEC Players of the Week
From the league office:
SEC Player of the Week – Auburn forward Chuma Okeke, a 6-foot-8, 230-pound sophomore from Atlanta, averaged 19.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.5 blocks and two steals in wins over South Alabama and No. 25 Washington. He set career marks with 20 points, five assists, three blocks and three steals in season opener against USA. Okeke secured fourth career double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds in win against Washington. The sophomore led team in plus-minus with astounding plus-79 mark in the two games.
SEC Freshman of the Week – Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound freshman from Nashville, averaged 21.5 points, four rebounds and 2.5 assists in wins over Winthrop and at Southern California. Garland led all scorers with 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting, chipping in four assists and three rebounds in his first-ever collegiate game against Winthrop. In his first collegiate road game at Southern California, he tied for game-high honors with 19 points on six of 14 shooting from the field.
Sagarin college basketball ratings
- 38-Miss State
- 49-Ole Miss
- 127-Texas A&M
- 145-South Carolina
Source: Jeff Sagarin computer rankings