- You can always count on a Billy Donovan team to be among the best defensive teams in the country, and this year is no different. Donovan has his team ready to defend as soon as the opponent steps over halfcourt and even the simplest passes become difficult against the Gators. The offense still struggles at times, but teams won’t want to play them in March.
- Andy Kennedy has managed to keep Marshall Henderson out of trouble, though he still is a bit out of control on the court, and he has the Rebels at 5-2 in the SEC right now, tied for 2nd place. The team lost its frontcourt from last season, but the defense is still playing tough out on the perimeter, limiting good looks.
- Kentucky fans were talking about a team that could go 40-0 before the season started and instead have a team that’s 15-5 at the halfway point and 5-3 in the SEC. There is still a lot of talent, but a lack of fundamental play on both ends of the floor continues to hurt the Wildcats. There is enough talent here to still make a March run, but John Calipari has his work cut out for him.
- Both Alabama and Arkansas were expected to at least be near the upper half of the SEC this season, but neither team looks like they will. Alabama is struggling on both ends of the floor and the pressure is on Trevor Releford to score and distribute. Arkansas coach Mike Anderson is a Nolan Richardson disciple but the “40 minutes of Hell” concept just isn’t effective anymore. They can score as well as anyone in conference, but just as easily give the points up.
- Cuonzo Martin’s Tennessee team has struggled early on this year, even though they may be the 3rd best team talent-wise in the conference. The offensive system can be stagnant at times, and the shot selection can be bad at other times. Martin hopefully will get them together soon, because an NCAA bid is starting to slip away for good this season.
- The Missouri backcourt duo of Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson may be the most dynamic backcourt duo in the country. Clarkson has great size at the point and loves getting the Tigers out in transition. Brown is just a pure scorer from anywhere on the floor.
- Auburn has a high-scoring backcourt duo of their own in Chris Denson and KT Harrell, both who are scoring over 19 points per game, though it isn’t helping the team when many more games.
- LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant has started to come into his own after showing little from being a McDonald’s High School All-American. He is showing a growing offensive repertoire and his length can be a problem on defense, especially next to teammates Jordan Mickey and Jarrell Martin.
- Florida’s frontcourt duo of Patric Young and Casey Prather has given a strong effort on both ends of the floor for a team that often relies on the perimeter game. Prather is an athletic slasher which is aided by Young’s ability to seal off the post.
- The Kentucky freshman class was heralded but only one has really earned any kudos to this point – forward Julius Randle. Randle needs to be double-teamed every time he touches the ball or he will just barrel his way to the basket, where he finishes with a surprisingly soft touch.
NCAA Tournament teams?
Well, Florida is a lock, and Kentucky should get in, though you never know what will happen with the young team. Missouri, Ole Miss, LSU and Tennessee will all be in contention for a third bid, but getting 4 out of a conference this bad may be a stretch.