Player of the Week
Laurence Bowers - Missouri
Bowers gets Player of the Week honors for the second time this season. The forward averaged 22 points and 9.5 rebounds last week in wins against Southeast Missouri State and Tennessee State. Bowers is showing no lingering effects from the knee injury he suffered before last season and seems to be getter better and better each week. The key for Bowers is staying out of foul trouble. When the big man stays out of foul trouble and plays at least 25 minutes he has been a force but when he gets into trouble early it takes himself and his team out of their groove.
Ryan Harrow - Kentucky
While the numbers would tell you that Harrow has been anything but hot lately, it isn't just about numbers for him. He was supposed to be the point guard that stepped in for Coach Cal's team and ran the show but illness, family issues and just lack of consistent play has kept him from playing up to the level at which he is capable. But in his last two games, Harrow has played better defensively, he hasn't turned the ball over and he looks like his confidence is rising. Because of his play of late, his minutes have started to climb as well as his scoring and assist numbers. His last game against Portland he had season highs in minutes (25), points (8), assists (6) and rebounds (4). While these numbers won't impress most fans, Calipari and the rest of the coaching staff have to be pleased with his play lately.
The Vols have lost their last two contests at Georgetown and at Virginia. Those are respectable losses on the road to two potential tourney teams but it isn't necessarily that the team lost both games than it is how they lost them. To put it nicely, this team is struggling to score the basketball. They managed only 36 points on 32% shooting against the Hoyas and followed that up with 38 points on 29% shooting against the Cavaliers. Jarnell Stokes has been a no-show on the offensive side of the floor the last two games scoring a total of 9 points. For a guy that is capable of being a 1st round pick, those numbers just won't cut it. He needs to be more aggressive on that end of the floor and use his body to get to the free throw line. If you are looking for a silver lining, the team has played exceptional defense in both games allowing a mere 37 and 46 points respectively.
Top 5 Teams
Florida Gators - As mentioned in last week's blog, the Gator defense is suffocating opponents. Florida State was the latest victim as they scored 47 points (15 in the first half) and were thoroughly outplayed from start to finish. The Gators are the team to beat in the SEC. They have a very well balanced squad and have seven guys that can score 20 on any given night. They struggle from the free throw line but that's about the only thing this team doesn't have going for them.
Missouri Tigers - The Tigers' lone loss came at the hands of a top 10 Louisville team on a night where Lawrence Bowers was in foul trouble. Other than that this team has gelled together better than anyone could have imagined. With the amount of transfers that this team is trying to get into the mix and with the loss of Michael Dixon, this team has exceeded expectations to this point. They aren't quite as good as Florida but they aren't that far behind.
Kentucky Wildcats - This Wildcat team is still very much a work in progress but they have shown signs lately that things are coming together. Ryan Harrow, in particular, has started to play better and with him in the mix they can finally slide Archie Goodwin to his natural wing spot and allow Julius Mays to come off the bench. Still, they haven't played well against good competition as Portland and Samford are far from that. Still, baby steps are crucial for young teams.
LSU Tigers - The Tigers are a bit of a surprise at 5-0. Their best win is against a rebuilding Seton Hall but they have played well and are undefeated this far into the season for the first time in the last few years. Transfer Shavon Coleman continues to lead this team in scoring even as he comes off the bench and with Patrick O'Bryant finally getting back to full strength, this team looks like they could be the "out of nowhere"" team to make some noise at the top of the conference.
Ole Miss Rebels - Ole Miss would have been higher on this list but a home loss to Middle Tennessee State on Sunday drops them a couple of spots. They had been undefeated up to that point and all teams have games where they play down to their competition but still it is a bad loss. We still don't know a lot about this team as they still haven't played anyone but they have a solid front line that should keep them competitive in what is turning into a weak SEC this season.
Stokes is seeing immediate doubles on the rare occasion that the perimeter players can make an entry pass. Tennessee is shooting awfully as a team so teams are just packing it in. It's not like he's getting a ton of opps with 8 shots combined in those games.