Start your morning off right with a quick recap of last night’s games and a preview of today’s SEC Elite Eight slate of tournament basketball:
This game lived up to the hype of their earlier season match up where Georgia beat Tennessee 76-65 in Knoxville on Feb. 11. The opening game of round two saw Tennessee take a lead into halftime, but Georgia benefited from a number of free throws — including two down the stretch from J.J. Frazier to seal the win over Tennessee. The Volunteers shot 7-25 (28 percent) from three in the loss to finish 16-16 in Rick Barnes’ second year as head coach.
Alabama’s shooters caught fire from the get-go of this game and essentially put the game in the bag for the Tide midway through the first half. Alabama shot 47.2 percent from the field and hit half of their 16 three’s to easily advance on to the quarterfinals. Leading Alabama was Dazon Ingram, who hit all seven of his shots for 17 points while he got 42 points from his bench. Mississippi State shot just six free throws compared to Alabama’s 26 attempts.
After keeping things close for the first 20 minutes by holding down Vanderbilt’s notably talented front court, Texas A&M succumbed to strong guard play by the ‘Dores as Vandy doubled up the Aggies in the second half 43-21. Despite Luke Kornet and Jeff Roberson combining to go 2-13, Joe Toye — who averaged 6.0 points per game in the regular season -- dropped a game high 18 to not only move Vandy to the next round but possibly even lock up a NCAA Tournament berth.
You have to hand it to Missouri — this basketball season has flat out sucked for them and yet, they managed to play Ole Miss pretty darn close in the nightcap of the second round. Simply put, when Sebastian Saiz and Deandre Burrnett are playing their best basketball Ole Miss is a very tough out. Saiz scored 14 points and grabbed 16 boards while Burrnett scored 23 points on 4-5 shooting from three. Missouri shot 41.4 percent from beyond the arch in the season-ending loss.
Game 7: (8) Georgia Bulldogs vs. (1) Kentucky Wildcats | Start time: 1pm ET
For the first time since March 4 basketball fans will get to see Kentucky in action as they look to win the fifth SEC tournament in the John Calipari era. Kentucky, by most metrics, is the best team in the conference and the deserved No. 1 seed after going 26-5 in the regular season. However Georgia kept Kentucky to single-digit margins in both games they played earlier this season, so don’t expect UK to blow the doors off a solid Bulldog team.
Who to watch: Kentucky has plenty of big names, however none are quite as big as Malik Monk. Monk is a pure scorer, averaging 21.6 points per game at an 84.1/46.3/40.9 shooting clip. Georgia’s Yeante Maden scored 12 key points off the bench against Tennessee and averages 18.7 on the season.
The winner plays: The winner of game eight, either South Carolina or Alabama.
Game 8: (5) Alabama Crimson Tide vs. (4) South Carolina Gamecocks | 3pm ET
The last time these two teams squared off it produced not only the best game in SEC this season but arguably one of the three best games in all of this college basketball season. It took four overtimes to decide the winner, which ended with Alabama pulling an upset in Colonial Life Arena despite SEC player of the year Sindarius Thornwell dropping 44 points and grabbing 21 rebounds. The last month and change have not been kind to South Carolina, and a revenge game of this caliber would be the perfect medicine to get back on track.
Who to watch: The aforementioned Thornwell will be the focal point of literally everything South Carolina does. The senior averages 21.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. For Alabama, six foot eight freshman Braxton Key averages 12.3 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game.
The winner plays: The victor of game seven, Kentucky and Mississippi State.
Game 9: (7) Vanderbilt Commodores vs. (2) Florida Gators | 7pm ET
Friday brings us four good games of SEC basketball, but none are quite as juicy as the 7:00 match up between Vanderbilt and Florida. Reason being, Vanderbilt swept Florida in the regular season 68-66 on the road and 73-71 in Nashville — ironically enough the host site for the SEC tournament. Luke Kornet averaged 17.5 points per game on 47.8 percent shooting against the Gators in those games, so it would behoove Florida to cap Kornet if they don’t want to be upset victim No. 2.
Who to watch: Matthew Fisher-Davis led Vanderbilt in scoring the season at 14.0 points per game and dropped 19 against Florida in the 68-66 win on Jan. 21. SEC sixth man of the year Caynon Barry averages 12.5 points per game off the bench and can be a game changer when he gets hot from three.
The winner plays: The better of game eight, Arkansas and Ole Miss.
Game 10: (6) Ole Miss Rebels vs. (3) Arkansas Razorbacks | 9pm ET
Arkansas is more than likely excited to see Ole Miss come in the night cap of the quarterfinals, considering the Razorbacks put up 98 points the last time they played the Rebels on Feb. 18. Ole Miss is fresh off getting big games from their two stars, and they’ll need every bit of them against an Arkansas team that’s 6-1 in their last seven games. Daryl Macon dropped 30 points off the bench for Arkansas in the aforementioned 98-80 win.
Who to watch: Arkansas’ Dusty Hannahs is one of the best heat-check scorers in the SEC, averaging 14.6 points per game while shooting 39.3 percent from three. For Ole Miss Sebastian Saiz is a double-double machine while Deandre Burrnett averages 16.5 points per game.
The winner plays: The winner of game nine, Florida and Vanderbilt
TV: SEC Network