Sidelines with John Clay

SEC basketball: Riley Norris removes South Carolina from unbeaten ranks

Alabama forward Riley Norris (1) is congratulated after a three-pointer over the South Carolina Gamecocks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Alabama forward Riley Norris (1) is congratulated after a three-pointer over the South Carolina Gamecocks during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Associated Press

A look at Wednesday’s SEC games:

▪ South Carolina coach Frank Martin said he could tell early on that it was going to be a long night for the Gamecocks and his early impression was right on the money. Alabama removed USC from the unbeaten ranks -- SMU is now the only undefeated major college team remaining -- with a 73-50 thumping in Tuscaloosa.

Riley Norris was the Bama star. Inserted into the lineup, the sophomore hit his first seven three-point shots on the way to a monster 27-point night. Norris was eight-of-11 on the night from three. By halftime he had already matched his career high of 18 points.

No. 19 South Carolina fell to 15-1 overall and 2-1 in the SEC. The Gamecocks shot just 35.8 percent from the floor and trailed 35-22 at the half. Martin’s club made just three of 18 three-pointers and just nine of 17 free throws. Their point per possession average of 0.780 was the lowest by a team in an SEC game so far this year.

▪ As Kentucky found out last week, LSU is hard to beat in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Ole Miss discovered that as well on Wednesday night, surrendering a 43-40 halftime lead and losing 90-81 to the Tigers.

LSU shot 55.6 percent from the floor for the night after making 17 of its 24 second-half shots. Now 9-1 at home, the Tigers got 17 points from Craig Victor and 15 points and seven assists from Ben Simmons. Head coach Johnny Jones benched freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, who responded by scoring 13 points in the game’s final eight minutes.

SEC basketball game-by-game in a spreadsheet

Stefan Moody scored 33 points for Ole Miss, the third time this year the Rebels’ star has scored 30-or-more points in a game. Rasheed Brooks added 18 for Andy Kennedy’s club, which is now 0-2 on the road and 2-0 at home in league play.

▪ After a tough one-point loss at Ole Miss on Saturday, Georgia rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to hand Tennessee an 81-72 loss in Athens.

J.J. Frazier scored 28 points and Kenny Gaines added 23 for the Bulldogs, who shot 50 percent from the floor. Georgia made 12 of 19 three-pointers which helped Mark Fox’s team overcome 18 first-half turnovers. Fox, who turned 47 on Wednesday, celebrated by watching his team turn the ball over just twice in the second half.

Tennessee got 16 points from Kevin Punter and Derek Mostella but dropped to 0-7 on the road this season. The Vols are 8-1 at home for Rick Barnes, in his first season as the head coach in Knoxville.

Saturday’s SEC men’s basketball games

  • 1:00 - Missouri at South Carolina (SEC)
  • 2:00 - Texas A&M at Georgia (ESPNU)
  • 3:30 - Tennessee at Mississippi State (SEC)
  • 4:00 - Kentucky at Auburn (ESPN)
  • 6:00 - Alabama at Vanderbilt (SEC)
  • 8:00 - Florida at Ole Miss (ESPN2)
  • 8:30 - Arkansas at LSU (SEC)
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