Player of the Week
Alex Oriakhi - Missouri
After their blowout loss to Florida just over a week ago, the Tigers were in desperate need of a boost. Lawrence Bowers' injury had really taken a toll on this team and someone needed to step up and fill his shoes. The team got that boost from senior forward Alex Oriakhi. The big man has really stepped up his game this past week pouring in 18 points against both South Carolina and Vanderbilt including 14-15 from the free throw line. He hauled in 11 and 12 rebounds respectively in those two contests as well. He has really hit the offensive glass hard as half of his rebounds are on that end of the floor. He's played the role of a janitor lately, cleaning up his teammates misses and converting them to easy scores. With Bowers set to return in the next week or so, Oriakhi will need to sustain his stellar play of late and continue to provide leadership for a team/program that is dealing its fair share of off the court issues.
Scottie Wilbekin - Florida
The Gators are clearly the class of the SEC. They are tied for the league lead at 6-0 with a big showdown at home to Ole Miss on tap this Saturday. The Gators are doing it predominately with defense this season and Wilbekin is this team's leader on that end of the floor. The Gators have allowed a league low 48.2 points per game to opponents in league play thus far and Wilbekin is a huge part of that. But everyone knows that he is an exceptional defender. What has been fun to watch is his increased offensive output lately. He has taken big strides with that part of his game and has taken it to a new level over the last two weeks. He's scored in double figures in three straight games and is averaging just over seven assists during that time span. His emergence has taken some of the scoring load off of Kenny Boynton who had been struggling with his shot lately. If he continues to score and create for his teammates at this level, the Gators will be strong favorites to make it all the way to Atlanta.
Ole Miss Rebels
The Rebels' non-conference schedule left a lot to be desired. Most thought that they would struggle with better competition once SEC play started. The team has responded to those critics by rattling off six straight conference wins and are tied with the Gators for first place. They have played a number of close games but this past Saturday's game at Auburn takes the cake. After Marshall Henderson made two free throws to end it, someone got a video of this gem. Enough said.
Archie Goodwin - Kentucky
The Wildcats aren't short on talent but they are short on go-to players. They start four freshman and a red shirt sophomore most nights and when one or more of them struggles, so does the team. Goodwin is the team's best overall player at this point and one of the few players that can create for himself on this roster. So it isn't surprising that when he struggles, Kentucky loses. He has shot under 37% from the field in Kentucky's 6 losses and just over 46% during their 13 wins. He had one of his worst games of the season against Alabama last week. He was 2-12 from the field and seemed to force the issue on more than one occasion that translated into a poor shot or a turnover for the 'Cats and an easy bucket for the Tide. As with most freshman, he struggles on the road. You can see the frustration in Calipari's face every time Goodwin makes the wrong play. He is talented enough to do whatever he wants on the court, now it is about maturing and developing into the player that Cal knows he can be.
Top 5 Transfers
Marshall Henderson - Ole Miss
Hard to argue that there has been a transfer player make more of an impact than Henderson. He leads the SEC in scoring and is the emotional leader of this Rebel team. He has made big shot after big shot for Andy Kennedy's squad. And there's this...in case you missed it before.
Julius Mays - Kentucky
Mays importance to this Wildcat squad is something that can't be seen in a box score. Sure he averages close to 9 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists per game for Kentucky but he has been more than that. He is a veteran player who has come in and done an exceptional job for this team handling the ball, knocking down three's and playing steady defense. If you think this is a thin team now, imagine if Mays hadn't transferred over from Wright State.
Jabari Brown - Missouri
Brown wasn't eligible until after Christmas after sitting out the first semester due to NCAA transfer rules but his eligibility couldn't have come at a better time for the Tigers. With Bowers sidelined, Brown has had to step up and shoulder more of the scoring load than most thought he would have to on this veteran team.
Shavon Coleman - LSU
Coleman was a scoring and rebounding machine earlier in the season. He has really tapered off since conference play has started but he is still leading this team in scoring at just over 12 per game. He's more effective the more opportunities he gets during a game but the team has struggled with consistency lately and Coleman's play has slipped along with the team's record.
Mike Rosario - Florida
Rosario struggled at times last season. He hadn't quite grasped Billy Donovan's system and was behind Bradley Beal on the depth chart. This season has been a completely different story as he's doubled his scoring output and has been able to keep himself on the floor during crunch time by becoming a formidable defender.