Player of the Week
Brad Beal, Florida
Beal has often been the best player on the court for the 11th ranked Gators, despite relatively unspectacular shooting for his standards. His versatility at 6'3, strength and defensive aptitude have been early season calling cards. He's now starting to heat up from the perimeter- a scary proposition for Florida's SEC opponents. Beal connected on 11/22 from the field and 7/12 three-pointers last week in wins over Mississippi Valley State and in-state rival Florida State for 17 PPG. He continues to rebound the rock at a fever pace, adding two more 6 board efforts to his 6.3 season clip. The thievery has not halted either with a 3-steal game versus FSU. His 36% from deep and 70% from the FT line will assuredly take an upwards spike as the year progresses. Thursday at Rutgers is the next test for Beal and the Gators.
Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
The Bulldogs have reeled off 11-straight W's and stand atop the SEC at 12-1. Moultrie has been the catalyst. He notched his 4th consecutive double-double in impressive fashion during an 82-67 win over Northwestern State, scoring 24 points (8/11 FG & 8/8 FT), grabbing 14 rebounds (a ridiculous 11 offensive boards) and handing out 4 helpers. Other than block shots, the UTEP transfer has done EVERYTHING. He's no longer playing in a hurry, and as a result his athleticism and motor on the interior have been accompanied by efficiency: 18 PPG, 12 RPG, 58% FG, 88% FT and 1 SPG. Dee Bost is the Bulldogs engine, but Moultrie is the anchor.
Gerald Robinson, Georgia
Georgia's number one playmaker continues to play solid ball. In home triumphs over Mercer and Furman he averaged 16.5 points on 52% FG (11/21) and 9/10 FT makes. He dished out 9 assists against 4 turnovers, a ratio far superior to his 3.4:2.8 season mark. Robinson shoots 80% from the free throw stripe and is clearly at his best when attacking, yet for whatever reason phases in and out of aggression. The Bulldogs and their inept offense would greatly benefit from more opportunities at free points.
Are the Tigers for real? It appears so. LSU has won 6 straight games, including a convincing win over then #10 Marquette, and they've held their opponents below 60 points in all six of those W's. They even showed some offensive fire against the Golden Eagles, shooting 54% from the field and drilling 7/11 treys. While they haven't developed a consistent go-to scorer, what they have developed is team depth. Ten Tigers average 10+ minutes per contest.
Mississippi & Terrance Henry
The Rebels are attempting to meld new players into their rotation, but that doesn't excuse their offensive futility in a 68-56 neutral court (in Mississippi) loss to Middle Tennessee State. More specifically, 40% FG, 14 missed free throws in 31 attempts and 21 turnovers (8 assists). Ole Miss can boast one of the worst assist: turnover ratios in the country at 0.69, so this is not a new dilemma.
After putting up his best scoring output of the season with 26 points on 10/14 FG at Southern Miss, Terrance Henry responded in typical Henry fashion: He fouled out for the second straight game in just 16 minutes, scored 8 points, failed to grab a single rebound and committed 4 turnovers. SMH.
Trae Golden, Tennessee
Golden's house of fire start has long since been extinguished. Over his last five games he's scoring 8.8 per, shooting 33% from the field (14/42) and 15% from distance (3/19). He hasn't had a multiple-three effort in the month of December. To his credit, he's still distributing the rock at a solid rate with over 5 APG during the same stretch. However, Golden's inability to create easy shots for HIMSELF is deteriorating his offensive productivity and efficiency. The Vols are either falling short or squeaking by against poor competition; during conference play it could get ugly.
4 Recently Eligible Players to Watch
1. Jelan Kendrick, Mississippi- The 6'6 SG adds another long athlete to the Ole Miss active roster. Kendrick played 29 minutes against MTSU with 8 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals. He's a potential game changer on both ends.
2. Noel Johnson, Auburn- It's been a rough start for the hyperathletic Clemson transfer. Johnson has made only 1 of 10 shots in two games, but he will be a key contributor for Tony Barbee's Tigers in short order.
3. Twany Beckham, Kentucky- Despite the injury to Terrence Hones, Beckham has seen just 17 minutes of PT in three games. The versatile guard has excellent size and should earn his way into the rotation for defense.
4. LaDarius White, Mississippi- The freshman splashed onto the scene with a rousing debut effort, but his follow up acts haven't been pretty. He's 2/13 from the floor, 0/7 from the three-point line and has turned the ball over 7 times. Ole Miss' lack of offensive identity will not expedite his growth. The talent is there.
- Kentucky freshman Kyle Wiltjer had a breakout performance against Loyola MD with 24 points on 7/11 shooting (3/6 3PT & 7/8 FT). Perhaps he'll earn himself more significant court time when Terrence Jones returns.
- Vanderbilt G/F Jeffery Taylor hit 19 of 27 shots this week in wins over Longwood and Lafayette. He's averaging 24 PPG over his last four and appears to be turning the corner despite his team's uninspired play. His teammate, John Jenkins, drained 10 threes this week out of his 15 total FG's.
- Auburn forward Kenny Gabriel continues to fill up the stat sheet in bizarre ways. He shot 2/11 from the field in one game, and 10/14 the next. He committed 7 turnovers in one game, and zero in the next two combined. He followed up a 7 block game with 3 total in the next three. You never know what to expect when checking out his box scores. He generally leaves his impact, for better or worse.
- Festus Ezeli missed both of Vandy's games this week after aggravating his surgically repaired left knee. JaMychal Green sat out Alabama's win over Oklahoma State with a shoulder injury.