Player of the Week
Jarnell Stokes - Tennessee
Stokes was on the "Who's Hot" list last week and makes the jump to POW after two more double doubles this past week. That gives the Memphis native nine on the year including a current string of five straight. He has really taken his game to the next level over the last month. He's getting more touches in the post and turning them into points at a high rate. In two games last week, the big man shot 23 free throws. He has an NBA ready body and he's finally starting to use it and realize how much of an advantage he has on the block. His free throw shooting has been better as well which has helped his cause in trying to get more touches. He's still only at just over 57% on the season but over his last 4 games that number is creeping toward 70%. Staying out of foul trouble will continue to be the key to his success for the rest of the season. If Stokes can keep this up, Tennessee will be a hard out come SEC Tournament time and could make a run for a bid to the Big Dance.
[Player: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] has been playing out of his mind lately and that has coincided with the Bulldogs rise from the cellar of the SEC to the top half with a fairly manageable schedule remaining. The Dawgs are winners of 5 straight and 6 of their last 7. They are currently tied for 5th place in the conference with Missouri. Anyone who watched this team during the first two months of the season knows how unbelievable this turnaround has been. Pope has taken much of the scoring load during this steak, averaging 19 per game, but it has been on defense where the team has really stepped up. That, along with their ability to slow down game and control the tempo has the team finally playing like some thought they would coming into the season. Mark Fox's bunch has a favorable schedule down the stretch which should put them in good position to get one of the top four seeds in the SEC tournament.
Levi Randolph - Alabama
After that 37 point output against Auburn last week, the entire Crimson Tide offense could fall into this category. The Tide has had trouble scoring against good competition for most of the season. Some of that can be attributed to the fact that they lack a true post player and, more often than not, use a small lineup that essentially features four guards. Randolph in particular has had a rough go of it lately. He has gotten to double figures just once in the last 5 games and is shooting just 23% during that span. Teammate Trevor Lacey has struggled as well but has seen a few three balls drop which makes his numbers look a little better. Anthony Grant should take a page out of Jay Wright's book who utilized that four guard offense a few years back en route to an Elite 8 appearance. The Tide have a big one coming up this week against the Bulldogs, they desperately need to win that one if they want to keep pace in the SEC and get off the NCAA "bubble".
Top 3 Games of the Week
Kentucky @ Florida - 2/12
One Tuesday the Wildcats head down to Gainseville for the first of two matchups with the Gators. Only one game separates the two in the conference standings and the Wildcats have a chance to move into first place in the SEC for the first time all season if they can win on the road. The Gators are perfect at home this season and are the league's stingiest team when it comes to points allowed. The 'Cats have some offensive weapons but still haven't really found their groove offensively. Expect this to be a low scoring affair as both teams play stout defense around the hoop. If you are a college hoops fan then this is a must watch.
Alabama @ Georgia - 2/12
As mentioned earlier, the Bulldogs are one of the hottest teams in the league right now and Alabama is a team struggling to find their way offensively. The winner of this game has a leg up on the other in terms of SEC play along with putting them in great position to get that first bye in the conference tournament. [Player: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] is a man on a mission and his mission is to get the Bulldogs to the tournament. They'll probably have to win out in the SEC or bring home the conference tournament title to get in but a win against the Tide on Tuesday would be a big step in the right direction.
Georgia @ Ole Miss - 2/16
If Georgia is one of the hottest teams in the league, Ole Miss is one of the coldest. The Rebels have lost three of their last four and just haven't looked like the same team since taking down Auburn in late January. Marshall Henderson has cooled off even though his scoring average hasn't. He can shoot this team into a hole just as easily as he can shoot them out of one. The Rebels could be without Reginald Buckner against Texas A&M on Wednesday which will be tough since they are on the road. If they lose that game then this Saturday's home game against the Bulldogs will be a must-win. For Georgia, a win against Ole Miss could vault them into "bubble" consideration.
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