Player of the Week
Javonte Smart (LSU) — The 6-foot-4, 205-pound junior guard posted an average of 21 points, 6.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds on shooting 69.6 percent from the field missing just 7-of-23 shots in victories at Mississippi State and against No. 16 Tennessee. For the third year in a row, Smart has guided the Tigers in defeating a tough Tennessee team, pouring in 20+ in all three matchups. He went off on a solo, seven-point run in the beginning of the second half to up LSU’s led to double digits against the Vols. In addition, Smart filed his second career double-double at Mississippi State with 22 points and 11 accompanying assists.
The SEC — Five SEC teams (Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Florida) rank in the Top 40 of the NCAA’s Feb. 17 NET rankings, and four teams (Bama, Tenn., Mizzou, Arkansas) uphold spots in the AP Top 25. This makes the SEC the third-best conference in the NCAA right now and easily one of the most consistent seasons these teams are seeing.
Alabama — The Tide are currently ranked at No. 8 in the NCAA, and first in the SEC by three games. Against Georgia, Bama executed a full-blown onslaught where they won by a 33-point deficit. They came out blazing from beyond the arc, where 10 of their first 15 made attempts were 3-pointers. As a team, they shot 64.3% from the field and made 25-of-30 attempts from the charity stripe. It is safe to say the Tide is ROLLIN’.
Arkansas — The Razorbacks broke into the AP Top 25 at No. 24 after two huge conference wins on the road at No. 10 Missouri and against Florida. These victories made it sixth-straight SEC wins with a non-conference loss to Oklahoma State jammed in there; but the win against a solid Mizzou team will definitely aid Arkansas’ March Madness destiny.
Mark Smith (Missouri) — In November, Smith was the talk of the team averaging 17.3 PPG in the Tigers’ first three matchups of this season. Since then, he has cooled off tremendously only having scoring outbursts here-and-there. It also seems that he is unable to find his scoring role on this year’s squad, averaging less PPG than his last two seasons with the Tigers. In order for them to bounce back, I think Smith needs to provide more for this program.
DJ Stewart Jr. (Mississippi State) — The sophomore guard is the second-highest scorer for the Bulldogs averaging 16.7 PPG as he has shared the load with Iverson Molinar this season who is averaging 16.9 PPG. In turn, the trend seems to be that if both of these kids aren’t putting the ball in the basket, Mississippi St. struggles to win the game. In his last two efforts, Stewart Jr. has averaged just 7 points, saliently displaying how his lack of performance affects the team.
Top 5 Free Throw Squads:
LSU — The Tigers have found the most ease getting to the line this year getting up 22.5 attempts per game in which they happen to convert on 76.4% of them. They have shot consistently well with an overall of 327 made on 428 attempts.
Florida — The Gators don’t get to the line as often (19.5 FTA per game), but they definitely make the most out of their trips to the foul line: Connecting on 234 of 312 attempts this season, they currently boast a free throw shooting percentage of 75%
Arkansas — Of these five teams, the Razorbacks have the most attempts as well as makes from the free throw line: This coming as a result of them also recording the most games played with 22 (next closest at 19). Despite this, they shoot 74.8% from the charity stripe and get 20.2 attempts per game.
Tennessee — Although this team has experienced some serious difficulties thus far, they’re still making 73.8% of their shots from the foul line. They average 15.7 makes on 21.3 attempts per game.
Vanderbilt — Now, we all understand that Vandy is going to have a lot of reviewing to do after this season is over, but free throw shooting will not be a large topic of discussion. As a unit, the Commodores shoot 72.9% from the line making 215 out of 295 attempts.