SEC Exhibition Outings Wrapping Up on the Hardwood
Only a few exhibition games remain for the Southeastern Conference, as most teams have played at least one.
Here's a recap of those played since Nov. 2, my last update of them. The rest will come tonight and tomorrow, while the regular season begins at the end of this week.
I'm adding a new feature into all of my stories...a grade for each team's performance. It will be entirely subjective (obviously) and will focus on how well the team should have done compared to how it actually performed. It's A-F and will use pluses and minuses.
The game reviews will be in chronological order.
Alabama 81, Montevallo 53
Five Tide players scored in double-digits, led by JaMychal Green's double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds. Green started out slow in the first half, bogged down by foul trouble, but came out swinging in the second. All of his 18 points came in the second half.
Grant's team excelled in both facets of the game. They shot 48.1 percent from the field and held Montevallo to 33.3 percent. Alabama also out-rebounded the Falcons 47-31.
Alabama won't be a three-point heavy team this season, but this game showed some sign of hope. While the squad only attempted 13 shots from behind the arc, they connected on 5 of them for 38.4 percent.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: JaMychal Green (18 pts, 11 rbs, 3 blks)
STAT OF THE GAME: Alabama's +16 rebounding margin
ALABAMA GRADE: A
Tennessee 97, Lincoln Memorial 58
Tennessee cooled off offensively a bit in their second exhibition game and went for (insert sarcasm here) just 97 points. The team excelled once again in most every way from the very beginning, shooting 45.5 percent from the field and holding Lincoln Memorial to just 33.3 percent shooting.
The Vols shared the ball well with 20 assists, but turned it over 17 times. Good thing they forced 30 turnovers. Rebounding also wasn't close.
Scotty Hopson may be finally living up to his 2008-09 preseason hype, as he once again led the Vols offensively.
In two games, Hopson scored 40 points on 15-of-19 shooting (78.9 percent for those of you counting at home) and was 6-of-8 (75.0 percent) from three.
Chism had a disappointing showing, shooting just 4-of-12, though he grabbed eight rebounds. All-American Tyler Smith has been a bit understated in the team's preseason, as he scored 11 points and claimed just two rebounds in 16 minutes.
The team is looking for a point guard, and Maze didn't exactly impress with four assists to three turnovers. Goins wasn't much better with the same amount of turnovers and five assists.
Ball-handling continues to be a problem for the Volunteers, but may be less so if Hopson can continue his rampage.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Scotty Hopson (20 pts, 2 rbs, 77.8% FG, 66.7% 3PT)
STAT OF THE GAME: Lincoln Memorial's 30 turnovers
TENNESSEE GRADE: A
Arkansas 102, LeMoyne-Owen 69
Arkansas somewhat rebounded from a less than impressive outing in its first exhibition game to explode offensively against LeMoyne-Owen. There were some startling numbers, but let's look at the good first.
The 'Backs brought down 56.1 percent of their shots, held their opponents to 33.7 percent shooting, and recorded 19 assists to just 10 turnovers. The team also blocked 10 shots and stole the ball 16 times.
The offense was balanced as well...five Razorbacks scored in double-digits.
Rotnei Clarke led the charge, shooting 8-of-12 for 21 points. Freshman Marshawn Powell continues to look like a beast early on, as he matched Courtney Fortson with 18 points. Powell also grabbed 9 rebounds.
All-SEC forward Michael Washington was his typical self, scoring 11 points and 7 rebounds in just 22 minutes.
Now the scary part.
Arkansas was outrebounded by LeMoyne-Owen—using the name here again for emphasis—52-40. A minus-12 rebounding margin against LeMoyne Owen. The team also shot just 33.3 percent from behind the arc, ending exhibition competition at 32.3 percent from long-range. Not a good sign.
Finally, Pelphrey's squad managed to hit just 66.7 percent of their free throws.
The 'Backs have the potential and the talent, but have some gaping holes to fix before becoming a truly competitive team.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Rotnei Clarke (21 pts, 2 rbs, 66.7% FG, 66.7% 3PT)
STATE OF THE GAME: Arkansas' minus-12 rebounding margin
ARKANSAS GRADE: B-
South Carolina 78, Kentucky Wesleyan 55
The Gamecocks weren't exactly dominating in their first exhibition matchup, but it was a solid outing for the squad.
The scoring was balanced, as five Gamecocks scored in double-digits and the team out-shot its opponent by about five percent. The big difference was from behind the arc, as USC shot 42.1 percent and held Kentucky Wesleyan to 26.1 percent.
Sam Muldrow led the Gamecocks offensively, hitting five of his nine attempts and scoring 17 points along with seven rebounds. Dominique Archie also recorded double-figure points (11) and claimed eight rebounds. All-SEC Devan Downey had a poor showing—1-of-7 shooting for six points and three rebounds—though he did manage seven assists.
All-in-all a decent performance from USC, though the 13:18 assist-to-turnover ratio needs to improve as does the 59.3 percent free-throw shooting.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Sam Muldrow (17 pts, 7 rbs, 55.5% FG, 100.0% 3PT)
STAT OF THE GAME: USC's 42.1% effort from behind the arc
SOUTH CAROLINA GRADE: B
Auburn 87, Miles College 40
The Tigers had a surprisingly solid outing in their first exhibition game, smoking Miles College after a sluggish first half. Auburn outscored its opponent 51-17 in the second half.
The three-point shooting was the standout benefit for the Tigers. The team shot 14-of-32 from long-range, good for 43.8 percent on the back of Tay Waller's 5-of-7 effort from that distance. Waller scored a game-high 15 points, while two other Tigers scored in double digits.
Auburn out-rebounded their opponents (THAT'S a new phrase) by the biggest margin of any SEC team thus far (what?) in exhibition play, 55-35. Losing Robertson, ball-handling was expected to be a weakness, but it didn't show in this game, with 20 assists to 14 turnovers.
Free throw shooting was abysmal for the War Eagle, though: 42.9 percent. The team actually shot better from behind the three-point arc than it did at the charity stripe. Yikes.
Auburn might surprise a few people if it can continue to rebound well and keep up its precision from long-distance.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Tay Waller (15 pts, 1 rbd, 62.5% FG, 71.4% 3PT)
STAT OF THE GAME: Auburn's +20 rebound margin
AUBURN GRADE: A+
Kentucky 117, Clarion 52
Any John Wall dissenters suffered a setback when he went off in his first outing for 27 points on 10-of-14 shooting and nine assists against four turnovers.
Whether he can be nearly as effective against real opponents is another issue for another day...Wall showed he has the potential to be a star.
After struggling in its first exhibition game (in which it was without Wall), Kentucky left no doubt against Clarion. The Wildcats heavily out-shot, out-rebounded, and out-everythinged Clarion from tipoff.
Kentucky shot 59.2 percent from the field while holding Clarion to 23.8 percent shooting. The team improved its performance from long-range significantly, to the tune of 8-of-16 (50.0 percent). The Blue won the rebounding battle 47-34.
Six Wildcats scored in double-digits, and Wall wasn't the only player with at least 20. DeMarcus Cousins recorded 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting and grabbed six rebounds.
Even Kentucky's mediocre free-throw shooting improved to a very impressive 25-of-30 (83.3 percent) mark.
Too bad not every team is Clarion, eh?
PLAYER OF THE GAME: John Wall (27 pts, 4 rbs, 71.4% FG, 9 ast)
STAT OF THE GAME: Kentucky's 2.25 assist-to-turnover ratio
KENTUCKY GRADE: A+
Ole Miss 102, Auburn-Montgomery 62
The Rebels' debut featured a slightly ironic turn of events. Most expect the Rebels to struggle with rebounding this season due to a lack of size and front court depth, but they out-rebounded their opponents by 16. What was assumed to be a strength—ball-handling—seemed to be a massive weakness. Ole Miss managed just six assists and turned the ball over 19 times.
Warren, early on, looks to be a Ronald Steele twin. If you'll remember, Steele was an outstanding pass-first point guard for Alabama before massive knee injuries. When he returned, he was a potent scoring threat but had lost his touch as a true point guard.
Warren's stats from the team's exhibition outing says something similar. He scored 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting but dished out just two assists. Those two assists led his team though. Ouch.
The final score also hides an ugly little fact: Ole Miss was trailing at the half, 38-35.
The second-half blowout somewhat made up for the ugly start, though. The Rebels should continue the effort on the boards, but the ball movement must improve if they want to earn a post-season bid.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Chris Warren (22 pts, 2 rbs, 57.1% FG, 50.0% 3PT)
STAT OF THE GAME: Ole Miss' 0.32 assist-to-turnover ratio
OLE MISS GRADE: B-
Georgia 87, North Georgia 53
For the Eastern-Division Bulldogs to be facing such low expectations, Fox managed to impress in his first outing.
This game was another ho-hum beat-down of a lesser opponent. The catch here is, though, that Georgia will need a miracle to even reach .500 this season.
Travis Leslie, who showed flashes of greatness last season as a freshman, led the game with 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting and recorded five rebounds. Rebounding wasn't an issue for the Bulldogs, as two players had at least eight boards.
Georgia only attempted 14 treys, and instead opted to get the ball to the paint. This was pretty effective—the team shot an eye-popping 60.7 percent from the field, compared to 35.7 percent from three.
Free throw shooting was also an issue. As a team, UGA shot 56.0 percent from there—worse than they did from the field.
Last year, Georgia took down Albany State by 37 points in exhibition play on its way to a 12-20 record.
With that said, this wasn't a bad showing for UGA.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Travis Leslie (21 pts, 5 rbs, 69.2% FG, 2 stl)
STAT OF THE GAME: Georgia's 30 offensive rebounds
GEORGIA GRADE: A
Mississippi State 90, Georgetown-KY 70
The Bulldogs seemed to have reason to worry after Georgetown (KY) led 19th-ranked Louisville at the half and lost to the Cardinals by just 12 points.
They were wrong.
State never trailed in the contest and only felt the heat early in the second half, when the Tigers pulled within 7. MSU ended both halves on huge runs and thoroughly outplayed its opponent.
Kodi Augustus, the big-man who sparked State's run through the 2009 SEC Tournament, notched a double-double with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and 11 rebounds. All-American Jarvis Varnado led the team with 17 points on a perfect 7-of-7 effort and fell just shy of the squad's second double-double with nine rebounds.
Point guard Dee Bost handed out eight assists and shot 5-of-10 for 14 points.
As a team, State pulled down a very impressive 56.6 percent of its shots, but managed just 26.3 percent of its three-pointers. This was no doubt in large part to Barry Stewart's 0-of-7 effort. Long gone are the days when Stewart was a freshman who shot nearly 40 percent from behind the arc.
This is opposed to the team's first exhibition game, where it shot 43.3 percent from that range. MSU seems to be a very versatile, deep squad.
Ball-handling was suspect against Georgetown, however. The team had 16 assists to 16 turnovers. Rebounding wasn't better, as MSU managed to just tie its opponent with 33 boards.
An encouraging performance for the Bulldogs, overall.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Kodi Augustus (16 pts, 11 rbs, 66.7% FG, 2 ast)
STAT OF THE GAME: MSU's 26.3 percent effort from behind the arc
MISSISSIPPI STATE GRADE: A-