With SEC play starting for the Cats, it is time to look ahead to how the rest of the SEC has fared through non-conference play. Most analysts have ripped the SEC for being incredibly weak this year, but the top of the league has been fairly strong while the rest of the conference is very weak. Here’s an insight into each team.
Top Player- Phil Pressey
Big Wins/Bad Losses- Win over Illinois (82-73)
Analysis- Missouri is the toughest team Kentucky will play this year in my opinion. They have a potential Wooden Award winner in Phil Pressey and bundle of quality transfers including former UK target Alex Oriakhi. They can kill you with the 3 pointer, but even when they are cold, they rebound incredibly well, ranking first in the country. Missouri is a hostile road environment, luckily Kentucky hosts Mizzou this season. Bowers is a premier scorer to go alongside Pressey who is a complete point guard.
Top Player-Patric Young
Big Wins/Bad Losses- Loss at Kansas State
Analysis- Many expected Florida to win the SEC this year, and they certainly have the team to accomplish that. However, like the Gator team last year, this squad crumbles in late game situations. They had a chance for huge road win at Arizona and fell apart in the closing minutes. Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy provide plenty of scoring power, but Patric Young is the all-around best player with a strong .560 field goal percentage. Archie Goodwin should run all over Scott Wilbekin if he is on his game.
Top Player- Shavon Coleman
Big Wins/Bad Losses- Loss at Boise State
Analysis- It is very tough to figure out what kind of team LSU is this year. Their non-conference schedule was embarrassingly weak, and the loss to Boise State is an awful game to have on the resume come tournament time. Shavon Coleman is an outstanding player averaging 14.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. They played a tough Marquette team to a 4 point loss a few weeks ago, but the true level of this team won’t be revealed until a Jan. 12th meeting with Florida.
Ole Miss (10-2)
Top Player- Murphy Holloway
Big Wins/ Bad Losses- Loss at Middle Tennessee Loss at home to Indiana State
Analysis- The losses listed above are really, really bad losses. Losing to a team that has not been heard of since the Larry Bird era at home is about as bad as it gets. Their ten wins come against bad teams, but Murphy Holloway is an outstanding forward averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per game. If Alex Poythress wants to prove he is a prime-time player, shutting down Holloway would go a long ways towards establishing himself.
Mississippi State (4-7)
Top Player- Roquez Johnson
Big Wins/ Bad Losses- “A lot. A whole lot” Losses to Troy, Loyola (IL), Alabama A&M
Analysis- If you were to look up train wreck on Wikipedia, they will likely ask if you were searching for the 2012 MSU Basketball team. Between players transferring and a new coaching staff, this team is a long ways away from becoming an SEC contender again. At least Renardo Sydney won’t be eating all of the concessions at Rupp Arena this year. Expect Kentucky to win by a massive margin against this team.
Top Player- Kedren Johnson
Big Wins/ Bad Losses-Losses to Marist (by 17), Davidson, Middle Tennessee
Analysis- This team had a ton of rebuilding to do after losing nearly their entire rotation last year. Going by their losses, the rebuilding is going to take awhile. Kedren Johnson can be electric at times for this team and a good shooter from behind the arc. We all know playing at Vanderbilt is a tough task no matter the talent level in Nashville. If Kentucky doesn’t get rattled by the awkward set-up, they should be fine against this team with clearly superior talent.