Player of the Week
Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
The emergence of Ezeli on the national hoops scene is officially underway. Raw length and athleticism were identifiable attributes from day one, but those natural traits are now buttressed by strength, confidence and burgeoning post skills. At 6'11 255, Ezeli is often working with a prohibitive size advantage, and through eight games in 2010 hasn't been afraid to punish his smaller opposition. In a word, he's DOMINATING. In two games last week against Western Kentucky and Belmont he connected on 14 of 16 field goals, averaging 19 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals in just 21 minutes per game. With his free throw failures now behind him (to some degree, 37% last year) his aggression level is on the upswing. He attempted 14 FT's versus Belmont, connecting on 10. Deficient conditioning and stamina are still holding him back from stardom, but he's a legitimate force to be reckoned with in the painted area.
Chris Warren, Mississippi
After struggling in the early going, including a 4/17 (1/12 from three) performance versus Dayton, the 5'10 scoring dynamo began to find his stroke last week. Warren nailed 5 treys in a loss at Miami, and 4 more in a home victory over Southern Mississippi. He averaged 21.5 points and 3.5 assists (2.5 turnovers) in the two games, knocking down all 8 of his attempts from the charity stripe. He's now 28 out of 30 from the FT line on the season (93%). His backcourt mate, Zach Graham, has also played solid ball. He scored 35 points last week, committing just a single turnover and converting on 14/15 from the foul line. The Rebels need their frontcourt to pick up the pace in a hurry, as foul trouble has limited their PT and overall productivity.
Marshawn Powell, Arkansas
Powell broke his foot during an August pickup game and has been merely a shell of his former self in the early stages of 2010. His statistics currently read: 6 points, 4 rebounds and 36% shooting, a precipitous drop from his freshman numbers of 15, 7 and 50%. He also missed two games in an attempt to expedite the healing process. Powell was a complete non-factor versus Oklahoma, finishing with 2 points and 2 rebounds in 12 minutes. He appeared to take a step in the right direction vs. Troy, scoring 8 points and attempting 5 free throws after having attempted just one in his first three games. Still, 4 turnovers in 20 minutes are quite uncharacteristic. Hopefully the injury won't hinder him all season and he's gradually shaking off the rust. The explosion is not there right now.
Top 5 Impactful Results From the Week that was:
1. Florida 57-54 defeat at UCF- Central Florida is underrated, but still not a good loss for the Gators. UF shot 2/13 from the three-point line and 10-18 from the FT line. Senior forwards Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus struggled mightily. Parsons (2 points) went 1/9 from the field and an unfathomable 0/6 from the foul line, and Tyus was shutout on 5 field goal attempts. Florida forced only seven turnovers and was unable to find any easy buckets.
2. Kentucky 75- 73 defeat at UNC- Doron Lamb did his best to guide the Wildcats to victory, but it wasn't quite enough. Lamb scored 24 points on 7/12 shooting, 3/4 from distance and 7/8 from the foul line. His freshman counterparts were not as fortunate. Brandon Knight scored 15 points but turned the ball over 6 times, and Terrence Jones received his wake up call missing 14 of 17 shots before fouling out. UK was outrebounded by eight and outshot by 16 at the FT line. The Wildcats had no answer for Tyler Zeller inside, which is something to keep an eye on going forward in SEC play.
3. Mississippi State 61-59 defeat vs. FAU- Florida Atlantic consolidated the victory with a win over South Florida, but nevertheless, a tournament-caliber team from the SEC should not drop a home game to a Sun Belt foe (double-digit favorite). Full strength or not, the Bulldogs should feel the impact of this loss come March. When Ravern Johnson isn't knocking down jumpers (3/9 from three, 3/16 as a team) Mississippi has difficulty making up the scoring punch elsewhere with their current roster. Renardo Sidney will return from suspension on December 18th and Dee Bost on January 8th.
4. South Carolina 64-60 win vs. Clemson- The youthful Gamecocks improved to 6-1 on the year with a W over their in-state rival. Three newcomers, Brian Ellington (14), Brian Richardson (12) and Malik Cooke (10) scored in double figures and SC held Clemson to 39% shooting. The depth and athleticism of Darrin Horn's crew is intriguing, and they play HARD.
5. Mississippi 86-81 win vs. Southern Miss- The Rebels dealt USM their first defeat on the season (not a difficult schedule) despite blowing a 10-point halftime margin. They outscored the Golden Eagles 21-10 in the final 7:30 and forced 20 turnovers. Southern Miss could very well be a tournament squad, making this a solid resume-padding win for Ole Miss.
-Tennessee outrebounded Middle Tennessee State 37-17, and the Vols now hold a +9.3 margin on the season.
-On the opposite end of the spectrum, Mississippi has been outboarded 76-51 in their last two games.
-Vanderbilt has committed 23 and 20 turnovers in their last two contests respectively. On a bizarre note, the Commodores attempted more FT (45) than FG (44) in a win over Belmont.
-Alabama has played three straight games (2-1) without forward JaMychal Green who was suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team". The Tide were blown out by Purdue and scored below 50 for the 3rd time this season. An all too familiar story, they committed 19 turnovers against only 8 helpers.
-Arkansas senior forward Delvon Johnson continues to fill up the box score. He put up 20 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks in a home victory over Troy.