Co-Players of the Week
Anthony Davis & Michael Kidd Gilchrist, Kentucky
Same player recognition, different week. The pair of freakish freshmen continue to carry the load as the remainder of the Wildcats fight their way through a mid-season slump. In a seven-point victory over Louisville on Saturday, the two combined for 10 of the team's 17 field goal makes (rest of team 7/37), 21 of 32 free throw makes, 42 of 69 points and 29 of 49 rebounds. Davis shattered season-high FT marks converting 12/13, while Kidd-Gilchrist snatched 19 boards from the SF position. In a week that also included a W over Lamar, Davis averaged 14 points, 11.5 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. MKG compiled 21 points per game, 12.5 rebounds and 16 FT makes. Kentucky opens up conference play on Saturday the 7th versus South Carolina. The night in, night out rigors of the SEC will test the mental and physical fortitude of UK's freshmen. No more cupakes to reserve strength.
Lance Goulbourne, Vanderbilt
Last season Goulbourne waited until mid-January to turn on the jets. This year he's found his stride in late December. In a startling road demolition of 14th ranked Marquette, he scored 13 points (4/5 FG), grabbed 16 rebounds, swiped 3 steals and swatted 3 shots. His defensive effort held Jae Crowder to 4/13 shooting, and the Golden Eagles shot only 32% as a unit. Over his last three contests he's putting up 14 PPG on 74% shooting (17/23), 10 RPG and 2+ SPG. When healthy and on his A game, Goulbourne puts up some beastly numbers.
Trevor Releford, Alabama
The sophomore floor general has upped his level in the absence of JaMychal Green over the last two games. In home victories of Oklahoma State and Jacksonville he knocked down 13/19 field goals, 3/6 three-pointers and 8/8 free throws (89% on year) en route to 18.5 points per. In addition, he's been his typical fiesty self on the glass (4 RPG) and pressuring the rock (8 steals in two games). Releford's 7:7 AST:TO ratio isn't attractive, but in large part a result of heavy playmaking responsbility.
Dee Bost, Mississippi State
Bost has been stuck below double-figure scoring for three consecutive games, shooting a combined 8/36, or 22%, during the stretch. He's connected on a putrid 6 of his last 28 three point attempts (21%). The Bulldogs were fortunate to escape with a home W over Utah State (a down version of the Aggies), very much in spite of Bost's 5 points, 1/10 FG's and 3 turnovers. He's hit the proverbial wall, having played a ton of minutes early on in non-conference play. There's no time for a breather with a road tilt at Arkansas on deck Saturday.
Julysses Nobles, Arkansas
Much was expected from Nobles after a breakout sophomore campaign, perhaps too much. His limitations shooting the ball were apparent, and he's failed to take the next step forward. He's done an excellent job distributing (3.6 AST:1.8 TO), however, his 33% FG and 30% 3PT accuracy are both hideous. In the month of December, encompassing seven games, Nobles has hit 8/44 shots for a mindblowing 18%. At some point you gotta make a shot to stay on the court, especially with young talent waiting in the wings to pounce on minutes.
Top 5: Conference Matchups in January
1. Mississippi State @ Florida, 28th- Two well balanced clubs with experienced guard play, depth and frontcourt size. NBA talent abounds. Bulldogs have proven they can win on a neutral floor, but MSG isn't Gainesville.
2. Kentucky @ Alabama, 21st- You'd be hard pressed to find a clash with more speed and overall athletic prowess. Both teams struggle to score in the half court, so it will be interesting to see what pace is established.
3. LSU @ Arkansas, 14th- Deep, young teams playing surprisingly excellent ball. The winner carries more legitimacy on the national stage. Will the defensive minded Tigers be able to slow down the runnin' Razorbacks?
4. Vanderbilt @ Alabama, 19th- Both teams entered the year with exceedingly high expectations, and have disappointed. This will be a stern test for the Commodores who have actually played better on the road. The Tide's defensive pressure and the 'Dores systematic offense make for an interesting clash in style.
5. Mississippi State @ Ole Miss, 18th- Assuming (dangerous) that the Rebels are a more unified group two weeks for now, this should be an entertaining battle. They have the talent to explode on any given day. Breaking out against your in-state rival seems like an appropriate time.
- After praising his steady PG play two short weeks ago, Marquis Teague has committed 18 turnovers (17 assists) over his last four games. Darius Miller went turnover crazy himself versus Louisville, nearly matching his total for the entire month of December with 8 turnovers.
- Renardo Sidney has made 33 of his last 46 field goal attempts, good for a 72% clip.
- Mississippi guard Dundrecous Nelson hasn't assisted on a basket in three games. We know you're a scorer, but create an opportunity for someone else on occasion.
- In two games since coming off the bench, Georgia guard Dustin Ware has scored 35 points, hit 11/18 shots, 6/12 threes and dished out 6 assists against ZERO turnovers.
- Tennessee freshman 6'9 Yemi Makanjuola erupted for 18 points (7/9 FG) and 11 rebounds (7 offensive) in only 13 minutes of action against the Citadel. His prior season highs were 6 points and 7 boards.
- LSU held Grambling State to an absurd 23% shooting in a 69-37 win. The Tigers are guarding at an elite level right now.