ST. LOUIS, MO – Typically I only do the whole five bullet point things but a lot happened today, therefore I’m going to write more. Here’s the SEC Starting Five, sorta:
1. Collin Sexton is really good at basketball, like better than pretty everyone in the SEC and a lot of other dudes on the 337 other college basketball teams in America. The co-SEC Player of the Year, which is beyond ridiculous that anyone could think that Kevin Knox is on the same level as Sexton, scored 31 points in an absolute destruction of Auburn. Sexton got cute and made 6 out of 8 from three-point range.
2. Alabama is assuredly into the NCAA Tournament field now. The Crimson Tide has seven Quadrant 1 wins, the nations No. 5 overall strength of schedule. They also play in the SEC, which according to the halfcourt banner display, has the most Quadrant 1 & 2 wins, which is neat. All I know is, is Sexton is going to wreck someone’s bracket next week and Bama is definitely a tournament team.
3. The market correction for Auburn is complete. Sure, the Tigers were never the same team once Anfernee McLemore’s ankle did disgusting things. Then again, they were never as good as they portrayed over the first three months of the season. Auburn is the team led by the coach who’s reached the breaking point where he wants to fight opposing strength coaches. 33 of the Tigers shots came from behind the arc, Auburn connected on seven in the first half, leading by 10 at the half. Then followed that up by going 1 for 14 from deep in the second half. Live by it, die by it. I don’t need to see a bracket to put all of my chips in the middle of Auburn being that high seeded team to bite the dust next week.
4. There was a Duke fan during the Kentucky-Georgia. Either that person is a massive troll, paying homage to Christian Laettner or they’re the worst type of individual that thinks it’s appropriate to wear team gear to a sporting event in which said team isn’t participating.
5. Georgia made me hate basketball today. The Bulldogs went back to not offensing, shooting 28 percent. That’s extremely sad and had me contemplating my love for this sport.
6. Big Blue Nation traveled to St. Louis. The Cats fans put 16,364 butts in seats putting the hometown Missouri crowd of Thursday to shame by a 1,000. So not really to shame but the point is they showed up. So did P.J. Washington who scored a game-high 18 points, alongside 7 rebounds in the absence of rebounding vacuum Jarred Vanderbilt, who will likely be out again tomorrow with an ankle injury.
7. Scary moment early in the second half of play. Mississippi State’s Nick Weatherspoon went up for a layup and crashed hard to the floor (no foul call), the play continued leading to Weatherspoon taking a shoe to the jaw. Weatherspoon laid on the floor non-responsive needing to be stretchered off. In a play that should’ve been stopped, it wasn’t and someone was injured. The officials have to be better. To make matters more complicated, Nick’s brother, Quinndary when on to play the rest of the game with lord knows what going through his head.
8. Lamonte’ Turner did that Sixth Man of the Year thing tonight. The redshirt sophomore guard came off the bench to the lead the Vols with 15 points and 8 rebounds.
9. Mississippi State, meet NIT. NIT, meet Mississippi State. Had the Bulldogs played a tougher non-conference schedule instead of say the 289th best then we’d be having a different conversation. Also, they had one assist against Tennessee. One! Yikes.
10. Tennessee is going to need to offense better than what they did today. 33 percent isn’t going to beat Arkansas or really anyone else remaining in the field in St. Louis or who they face next week. The positive though is the Vols know how to win ugly and in March that counts for something and that something is called a win a.k.a. survive and advance.
11. Something that I knew but never shared. Florida has a player named Keith Stone. Yes, Keith Stone, like the beer Keystone and the commercial featuring the guy named Keith Stone drinking Keystone. Anyways, Stone’s name is the only good about him. Tonight he scored 22 points on 8 of 10 shooting, which is prettay, prettay good.
12. I’ve gone back and forth on which SEC team I’m crushing on. I’ve wanted it to be Florida all season but I don’t think that a full love affair is going to happen. Enter Arkansas. The Hogs have always played an attractive up-tempo pressing style of basketball that excites me but they haven’t been great away from Bud Walton. Well, thanks to their fans the Scottrade Center was virtually a home game. Meaning, advantage Razorbacks. Two senior guards in Daryl Macon (9 points) and Jaylen Barford (23 points, 9 rebounds) are exactly what you’re looking for this time of the year. Particularly when you weigh in the near miss of upsetting eventual national champion North Carolina a year ago. Surely they’re determined to rectify that and get to the second weekend. Throw in freshman big man Daniel Gafford (14 points, 12 rebounds) whose name has become synonymous with the windmill dunk, and I have a team worth investing your heart into.
13. As for Florida, I don’t know. Let me see a bracket then we can talk about whether this season will end a disappointment or not.
14. Semifinal Saturday pits Kentucky against Collin Sexton and Tennessee against Arkansas and all of the hogs that will be called. Thank you, Basketball Gods.