Co-Players of the Week
Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight, Kentucky
The comforts of Rupp Arena and a light schedule were welcome sights to the Wildcats, and their freshman duo in particular. Kentucky scored 85 points and shot 56% in a victory over Mississippi State (trailed 40-39 at halftime), and scored 90 on 50% field goals in a thrashing of hapless South Carolina. Jones was at his versatile, controlled best, notching 18 points (54% FG, 9-12 FT), 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.5 steals per game in the two home wins. Knight's distribution skills were on full display, dishing out 8 assists per game (2.5 turnovers) to go with 18 points, 4.5 rebounds and 50% shooting from the floor. The 'Cats will be seeking their first conference road win at Arkansas on Wednesday, and the composure of the freshmen will once again be put to the test.
Honorable Mention: The third freshman piece, Doron Lamb, deserves considerable recognition. He averaged 19 points nailing 12-19 field goals, 6-8 three pointers and 8-10 free throws.
Scotty Hopson, Tennessee
"Inspired Scotty" showed up this week, demonstrating his unique scoring ability and athletic prowess. Hopson scored 23 points in a home victory over South Carolina, cashing in 3 trey's and 6 of 7 free throws, while also posterizing the Gamecocks Brian Richardson. He poured in 32 of the Vols 63 total points in a home loss versus Georgia, converting 12 of 19 field goals and getting to the charity stripe on 10 occasions (6 makes). Outside of Hopson and Tobias Harris (18), no other Tennessee player chipped in more than three points. The Volunteers travel to Memorial Gymnasium for a bout with Vanderbilt on Tuesday, however, at this stage they are simply playing for seeding (6-6 in SEC).
Honorable Mention: John Jenkins continues to stroke it, scoring 21.5 per game on 10 composite three-point makes. He scored all 21 of his points in the second half of Wednesday's road triumph at Georgia. CLUTCH. UK's Darius Miller averaged 17.5 per game (including a career-high 22 versus SC) knocking down 9 of 15 from beyond the arc and swatting 5 shots (1.2 on the season).
Bruce Ellington, South Carolina
Again. I'm starting to feel bad for the dude. Ellington made only 6 of 20 field goals at Tennessee, including a ridiculous 3 of 13 from distance with 5 turnovers. He kept his miscues down at Kentucky (5 assists: 1 turnover) but shot 1 for 11 overall and 1 of 9 from deep. The three-point attempts are officially out of control. Granted it's difficult to finish at 5'9, but can we see some pull-up, mid-range action? The Gamecocks are dazed and confused right now with five consecutive losses and suffering defeats in seven of eight contests.
Top Five: Unheralded Performers
1. Trevor Releford, Alabama- The freshman PG has been sensational, leading the Tide to a 10-2 mark in conference play. He's scored in double-figures in eight straight games, and is averaging 11 points, 4 assists (2.5 turnovers), 3 rebounds and 1.5 steals on the season. Releford has also been remarkably efficient, shooting 49% from the floor and 83% from the FT line.
2. Zach Graham, Mississippi- After showing steady improvement in each of his first three seasons, Graham has been a legit #2 scoring option for the Rebels as a senior. He's pouring in 15 per night, converting 35% from distance and 86% from the charity stripe. At 6'6, he's an excellent perimeter defender with length and agility. He scored a career-high 30 points in a win over Auburn on Wednesday.
3. Darius Miller, Kentucky- Miller could easily find himself on a number of lists. While his performance against the league's top clubs has not been consistent, overall he's been an integral piece to the Wildcats success. The versatile 6'7 junior is scoring 10 per game on 48% shooting, 47% from the three-point line (1.5 makes) and 84% from the foul line. He can guard four positions defensively without pushing the envelope.
4. Dustin Ware, Georgia- Nothing he does is spectacular, but Ware runs the Bulldogs offense with a deft hand. He's number three in the country with a 3.52 assist: turnover ratio, averaging 3.9 helpers per game. Ware also corrals 3 boards, swipes a steal and shoots 44% from beyond the arc.
5. Malik Cooke, South Carolina- The Nevada transfer has quietly compiled a solid season. Cooke is not a guy you're going to run a set play for, but he leaves his mark slashing to the bucket and hitting the offensive glass. He's averaging nearly 3 offensive boards per game and shooting 49% from the field. Over his last three games he's put up 16 points and 7 boards per.
Florida forward Chandler Parsons missed Sunday's road victory at LSU with a deep thigh bruise. The injury had given him problems for a couple of games, and the rest should serve him well going forward. The Gators have stern tests versus Georgia and at Kentucky in the week ahead.
Vanderbilt forward Lance Goulbourne has been reduced to non-factor status since spraining his ankle in late January. After a splendid opening 2 1/2 months, his playing time and productivity has been on a sharp decline for the past seven games. His teammate, Andre Walker, returned from a 13-game absence to score 6 points in 11 minutes of action on Saturday. The point-forward will be a welcome addition to a Commodore crew hitting their stride at the right time.
Despite their 77 RPI and 128 SOS, ESPN "bracketologist" Joe Lunardi has Alabama as a #10 seed in his latest bracket projection. The Tide could be a major sleeper come March with their athleticism and willingness to defend. They are certainly rolling along in the watered down SEC West.
what about Renardo Sidney averaging 14 points and almost 10 rebounds during Miss. States last 7. He's finally getting into game shape. Not a fan but he has talent.
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