Player of the Week
Scotty Hopson, Tennessee
In a week where the Volunteers played just one game, Hopson still nabs POW honors by a landslide. Hopson scored a career-high 27 points in an 83-76 road victory over third ranked Pittsburgh, showing off the all-court offensive attack NBA scouts have been anxiously waiting for him to unveil. He attacked the hoop finishing with ferocious dunks in traffic, nailed smooth pull-up and J's, was a perfect 3-3 from behind the arc and got to the free throw line five times. When he comes to play with an aggressive mindset, there's little resistance that defenses can offer. He was on a mission Saturday, slicing and dicing through a top echelon defensive unit with a strong foundation and athletic wings. If he wants to re-emerge in the first round conversation, or potentially beyond, these efforts need to become regularity, and not "wow, look what Hopson CAN do”.
Delvon Johnson, Arkansas
After handing out bits of praise to Johnson in prior blogs, it's time he stands on his own. The 6'9 senior forward has been hands down the biggest surprise in the SEC, if not the country. He's averaging 12 points (58%), 9 rebounds and 4 blocks per game (2nd in nation). That's 9 points, 7 rebounds and 3.5 blocks above his junior season totals. In a 71-62 neutral court win over Seton Hall, Johnson finished with 10 points on 5-5 shooting, 12 boards and 8 blocked shots. Bigs that run the court, rebound and block shots are not easy to come by. To say he's opening eyes would be an understatement. He has our attention.
Kenny Boynton, Florida
The sophomore scoring guard continues his struggle to find the bucket. He's 7/31 from the field in December and 1/17 from three-point range. He's now converting at 38% from the field and 24% from three on the season. To make matters worse, he's made no alteration to his style. Boynton is attempting over six trifectas per game, more than half his overall shot attempts. He's taken 14 three pointers in his last two games and exactly zero free throw attempts. He needs to stop settling and start playmaking before this gets out of hand. He was shutout against American University last Sunday, but managed to dish out seven assists.
Top Five: Super Saturday Matchups
1. Mississippi State @ Virginia Tech- The long awaited debut of Renardo Sidney, and the Bulldogs need him desperately. After dropping back-to-back home bouts against Florida Atlantic and East Tennessee State, this is a big opportunity for a statement road victory against a tournament-caliber foe.
2. Florida vs. Kansas State- The Gators will be tested mightily by the length and depth of athletes the Wildcats have to offer. Florida is still searching for a primary playmaker, as easy points have been few and far between. Freshmen Patric Young and Scottie Wilbekin will be critical off the bench to match KSU's high-energy, chaotic style.
3. South Carolina @ Ohio State- No one in their right mind expects the Gamecocks to emerge with a W, but this game will surely test the mettle of their youthful roster. They put forth a competitive effort in East Lansing in mid-November and have since built confidence with 6 straight wins. Sam Muldrow will have his hands full inside with freshman sensation Jared Sullinger.
4. Arkansas @ Texas A & M- The Razorbacks have been impressive in the early stages, but will be forced to take it up a couple of gears on Saturday. John Pelphrey has his athletes playing full speed ahead, but organization and set offense are not strengths. The Aggies are solid defensively and have won 70 consecutive non-conference regular season home games.
5. LSU vs. Wichita State- The Tigers managed to barely scrape by Central Michigan, despite limiting the Chippewas to 35% shooting. Growing pains are to be expected, especially on the road in a raucous environment. Leaving Wichita with a win would be, pardon the pun, shocking.
- Vanderbilt's Lance Goulbourne cracked the starting lineup against Missouri and continues to perform admirably. The versatile wing scored 11 points, snatched 7 boards and dished out 5 assists in an 85-82 OT loss.
- Kentucky's Brandon Knight has cleaned up his turnover woes in the last two outings. He committed 28 turnovers in his previous five games, but just 3 last week. He averaged 19 points, 5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and shot 14-14 from the FT line.
- Knight's teammate Josh Harrellson continues to quietly pile up rebounds. He has four double-digit rebound games and is averaging 9 per contest (4 offensive) in 23 minutes of action.
-Georgia point guard Dustin Ware made 7 of 9 shots, all three pointers, in a 73-72 road win at interstate rival Georgia Tech. His final trey was the game winner with 15 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs assisted on 23 of 27 made field goals.
-Alabama's JaMychal Green scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in his return from suspension. Nevertheless, the Tide still can't make an outside shot (2-13 from three) and dropped a 12-point decision at Providence.