Player of the Week
Sam Muldrow, South Carolina Gamecocks
Muldrow put a ribbon on an underwhelming opening twelve games with 0 point 1 rebound effort at Boston College on New Year's Day. However, he made amends last week with two freakish box score stuffers. He posted 15 points, 11 rebounds, 6 blocks, 2 assists, a steal and a three-pointer in a dismantling of the MEAC's South Carolina State, and his performance in the conference opener versus Vanderbilt was for the record books. Muldrow recorded the second triple-double in school history in an 83-75 overtime triumph over the 'Dores, finishing with 16 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocks, a steal and two three-pointers. The Gamecocks will need more tenacious efforts from Muldrow to stay competitive in the SEC, and he'll need to produce them with more consistency to make his way back onto the big board for second round consideration. Stringent road tests lie ahead next week at Alabama and at Florida.
Chandler Parsons, Florida Gators
After a month long stretch of invisibility, including eight out of nine games below double figure scoring and nine straight below double-digit shot attempts, Parsons finally got aggressive this past week. In home victories over Rhode Island and Mississippi he averaged 17.5 points (12/22 shooting), 9.5 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal and a combined 6 of 7 from deep. His perfect 4/4 from the free throw line in the SEC opener was a welcome sight. With his stroke, it's borderline unthinkable that he's a 55% FT shooter (and 60% for his collegiate career). The Gators have won four straight and head to Knoxville on Tuesday.
Honorable Mention: Tobias Harris, Tennessee- 19 points 12 rebounds 1 block
Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt Commodores
Ezeli caught the attention of many during his blistering opening month, but his production has been dwindling. In his last four games he's grabbed just 13 rebounds, this on the heels of nearly 8 boards per in his first ten. He made only 3 of 10 shots on January 2nd vs. Davidson, and 2 of 7 Saturday at South Carolina, playing the role of Sam Muldrow's whipping boy and fouling out in 21 minutes. Two poor shooting performances wouldn't sound the alarm for most, but his efficiency was otherworldly (still at 61%). Ezeli needs to prove he can handle the physical burdens of SEC play in heavy minutes, as he's now a marked man.
Not so Honorable Mention: Ravern Johnson, Mississippi State- 8 points 3/16 FG 2/10 3PT
Top 5 SEC Opening Weekend Impact Freshmen
Tobias Harris, Tennessee Volunteers- The former McDonald's All-American led three Vols in double figures scoring 21 points, but it wasn't enough for the W at Arkansas. Harris added 11 rebounds, a steal and a block for a sparkling all-around effort in his first league contest.
Terrence Jones, Kentucky Wildcats- Jones returned to beast mode in a losing effort at Georgia. Limited to 23 minutes as a result of foul trouble, he scored 24 points on 9/18 shooting, 10 rebounds, knocked down 2 treys and converted on all 4 from the charity stripe.
Bruce Ellington, South Carolina Gamecocks- The future is bright for SC's fearless point guard. Ellington continues to splash the nets from deep, nailing six more treys keying a 22-point clutch effort. He contributed 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals for good measure.
Trevor Releford, Alabama Crimson Tide- Releford guided the way to Alabama's first road victory of the season at Mississippi State. The underrated PG finished with 17 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists (2 turnovers) and 3 steals. He'll be a fixture in this league for the next four seasons.
Scottie Wilbekin, Florida Gators- The 17-year old floor general didn't light up the scoring column, but dished out 6 assists against zero turnovers in 21 flawless minutes. Wilbekin is one of few offensive playmakers on the Gators squad and will likely see a surge in playing time as the conference seasons progresses.
-The second worst free throw shooting team in the conference at 65%, Georgia connected on 30/34 attempts to seal a home victory over Kentucky. Trey Thompkins hit 11 of 12.
-Josh Harrellson added two more 11 rebound games to his tally, and has now hit double figures in 6 of 7.
-Averaging 14 assists per contest on the year, Mississippi finished with just 17 in two games this week.
-Lance Goulbourne's role continues to expand for Vanderbilt. In his second game back from suspension he scored 9 points, snatched 14 rebounds and dished out 3 assists in an OT loss at South Carolina. His teammate John Jenkins didn't take long to rediscover his shooting touch, scoring 27 points on 7/13 shooting, 6/10 from deep and 7/7 free throws.
-Alabama has won four straight games and senior guard Charvez Davis is a major reason why. He's putting up 18 points per game during the streak, shooting 60% from the floor and 59% from three (17 makes). The Tide's "floor spreader" has found his groove.
-Mississippi State point guard Dee Bost will need time to shake off the rust following his suspension. He scored 14 points in his debut, but shot only 5/16 from the floor, 1/6 from distance and 3/9 from the charity stripe.
-It's safe to say Auburn had trouble backing up their enormous victory over Florida State. The Tigers looked like a high school team in the first half versus LSU, getting outscored 32-6 (yes, 6) and shooting a pathetic 8% from the field. Impressive freshman Ralston Turner missed the game with a stress reaction in his right foot. There is no timetable set for his return.
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