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Saturday, July 20, 2019

SECrets: Kentucky Remains Unbeaten, While Georgia Stumbles in Midweek Conference Action.

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Photo Caption: The Razorbacks seem to be turning things around after a slow start to the conference season, picking up their fourth-straight league win Thursday on the road, after beating Mississippi State, 51-35, behind a game-high 14 points, plus three rebounds, four assists, and two steals from C’eira Ricketts (White, No. 22). Ricketts also contributed one of the eight swats that helped Arkansas break its school record with eight blocks in the outing. Sarah Watkins contributed five blocks, to go with eight points and 10 rebounds, and senior Ashley Daniels chipped in two more, in addition to recording her first collegiate double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.


Photo Credit: Courtesy University of Arkansas Athletics Media Relations

By Mike Siroky

No. 6 Kentucky continued its undefeated run through the Southeastern Conference, this time humbling Auburn, 66-48.

Meanwhile,  No. 17/15 Georgia stumbled on the road, falling, 48-68, at Vanderbilt, in midweek Southeastern Conference action on Thursday, Jan. 26.

The Lady Dawgs have only two days two regroup before heading into another classic showdown on Sunday when they host the No. 7/9 Tennessee Lady Vols.

For Kentucky, it was, as usual, the defense that keyed the win. The Wildcats, the best team in one of the best conferences in the NCAA, forced 30 turnovers, stretching their streak of forcing double-digit mistakes by opponents to 103 games.
A 33-10 run, spanning the end of the first half and the beginning of the second, sealed the deal.

A’dia Mathies was coming off her worst game—last Sunday’s narrow 57-52 win over Florida in which she was held to just two points.  This time out, Mathies led the way for the Wildcats with 20 points, plus four rebounds, three assists and a steal.

“A’dia knew we weren’t happy with her on Sunday, with her lack of aggressiveness,” Kentucky coach Matt Mitchell said. “She’s an intelligent woman and she understood what she needed to do. She had a fantastic game. If she will just be aggressive, it opens things up for the rest of our team. She had a good night.”

Maegan Conwright came off the bench to hit five-of-six from the field for 10 points—six more than her season average—for the Wildcats. Conright, the only Kentucky other than Mathies to reach double figures, also grabbed three boards and three steals, and dished out an assist, but also gave up three turnovers.

“Tonight was clearly her best game of the year,” Mitchell said.

Sophomore Samarie Walker, still finding her role on the team after transferring from UConn last fall, grabbed 15 rebounds, eight off the offensive glass, but notched only six points (four of them from the line) on dreadful one-of-11 field-goal shooting.

Blanche Alverson led Auburn with 15 points, while Morgan Jennings came off the bench for 10.

The Tigers have lost five of their past six.

“We couldn’t score. Their pressure is intense,” Auburn coach Nell Fortner said. “They make it very hard for you to score. I thought we missed some opportunities as far as seeing some openings, but that is some intense pressure, and it’s difficult for us.”

Kentucky’s Mitchell also credited his team’s defense.

“We started getting aggressive in our half-court defense,” he stated. “We substituted Maegan Conwright in the game, and she made a huge difference in our defensive energy. It was significant. It energized our entire team. We played some tough defense.”

Said Conwright, “I know my role, and that’s to play defense.”

No little credit for the Wildcats’ success this season should go to freshman guard Bria Goss, once again the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week, the league office announced Monday.

Though Goss had a quiet outing against Auburn, with six points and three assists, her scoring average of 11.7 points per game leads all freshmen in the SEC and is on pace to be the sixth-highest freshman scoring average in Kentucky program history. Her 15 double-figure scoring games are the ninth most in UK freshman history, and her 25 made three-pointers are the eighth-most ever by a UK freshman.

The Wildcats rank in the top 10 in five national statistical categories, including leading the nation in turnover margin (+11.2). The Wildcats have forced at least 20 turnovers in all but two games this season and are averaging 32.2 points per game off turnovers.

No Kentucky women’s team has ever started 8-0 in conference play.

Their next challenge comes on Sunday at home when, in the first of three easily winnable games, when Alabama visits. The game is already sold out.

Summing Up the Midweek SEC Results

Games of Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012

  • LSU 71 @ Eastern Tennessee State 68

Games of Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012

  • No. 6 Kentucky 66 @ Auburn 48
  • No. 15/14 Georgia 48 @ Vanderbilt 68
  • No. 7/9 Tennessee 86 @ Alabama
  • Arkansas 51 @ Mississippi State 35
  • Ole Miss 43 @ South Carolina 61

Looking Back at the Midweek SEC Highlights

Games of Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012

  • LSU 71 @ Eastern Tennessee State 68

    After dropping three in a row, LSU regrouped—barely—by taking on a team from a mid-major conference, at East Tennessee State, on Tuesday. It took overtime to do it, but the Tigers pulled out a 71-68 victory to snap a losing streak that began at Florida, continued at Tennessee, and only got worse when the Lady Tigers returned home to face Arkansas last Sunday, minus two key players injured in their physical face-off with Lady Vols.

    ETSU has had only five wins, to 15 losses, this season. But they led most of the way against LSU, and barely missed pulling off what would have been a remarkable upset in front of a record crowd in Johnson City, Tennessee’s MHSA Athletic Center. The Lady Bucs led by as many as 12 in the opening half, carryied a nine-point edge, 33-24, into the break, and despite a concerted effort by the Tigers to claw their way back into the game, still clung to a two-point lead, 63-61, as the game entered its final minute of regulation.

    The Tigers needed a put-back at the buzzer by Swayze Black to tie it up. Forced to foul when LaSondra Barrett missed a jumper and ETSU’s Destiny Mitchell grabbed the board, LSU put Amy Duke at the line. Duke missed the front end of the one-and-one, and Black grabbed the rebound. Thanks to their command of the offensive boards, the Tigers, who out-rebounded ETSU 53- had four looks in the last 10 seconds, but only the last, Black’s, ripped through the nets, so close to the final horn that the officials huddled for prolonged review of the videotape before confirming that the shot had left her hands in time.

    “One more rebound,” said ETSU head coach Karen Kemp. “That’s what we needed.”

    LSU then once again had to come from behind in overtime. But Barrett capped a 20-point night with four game-winning free throws in the final minute of overtime to give the Tigers a three-point edge with 11 seconds to go, and when the home team’s final shot, a three-point attempt by Duke, bonked off the rim, the LSU contingent breathed a collective sigh of relief.

    “Oh, gosh, I am so proud of this team,” said Kemp. “They came out and they performed for 45 minutes. Other than ETSU fans, no one else thought we would take them to overtime.”

    Duke led the way for the Bucs with a game-high 21 points, including three-of-six from long range. Gwen Washington came off the bench for a full line of 12 points, six boards, three steals, and two assists, and Cara Bowling added 10 points.

    ETSU’s Destiny Mitchell just missed a double-double with a game-high 12 rebounds to go with eight points and a block.

    Barrett carried the laboring oar for the Tigers, adding 10 rebounds to her 20 points for her third double-double of the season. Bianca Lutley finished with a career-high 16 points. Courtney Jones pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds to go with her nine points and one swat but coughed up five turnovers, a game-high.

    “We knew it was going to be tough because we are adjusting with a new look we have to play with,” said LSU coach Nikki Caldwell.

    Still, while the Tigers seem to have gotten a better handle on the basketball as they adjust to the loss of point guards Destiny Hughes and Jeanne Kennedy, coughing up 17 turnovers to the Bucs’ 14, LSU’s shooting got progressively worse as the game wore on. LSU netted 10-of-26 (38.5 percent) in the first half, 15-of-41 (36.6 percent) in the second, and just two-of-seven (28.6 percent) in the extra minutes. They went three-of-11 from the arc (27.3 percent) for the game as a whole.

    Meanwhile, the Lady Bucs shot 42.2 percent (27-of-64) from the field for the game as a whole, shooting fairly consistently across all three periods.

    The Tigers stay on the road at Vanderbilt on Sunday before coming home for three straight, including Kentucky the following Sunday.

Games of Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012

  • No. 15/14 Georgia 48 @ Vanderbilt 68

    Georgia proved the old saw that (with the possible exception of Kentucky) any given team in the league seems beatable on any given night—at least away from home. The Lady Dawgs lost, 68-48, to a Vanderbilt team that had just played its way out of the Top 25 with a string of losses.

    Their victory over Georgia was just the Commodores’ third league win in eight tries. The ‘Dores had lost their last three straight, and sophomore guard Christina Foggie seemed determined that the losing streak was not going to be stretched to four.

    Foggie led Vanderbilt with a career-high 34 points, including seven three-pointers, propelled Vanderbilt to a 20-point win over the nationally ranked Bulldogs. It was the first time in nearly five years that a Vandy player had broken the 30-point threshold. Tiffany Clarke added a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds.

    Meanwhile, the Vandy defense held Georgia to its lowest scoring output of the season. Anne Marie Armstrong led the Bulldogs, as usual, with 15 points.

    Meredith Mitchell scored 12 but committed her fourth foul 48.6 seconds before halftime and didn’t start the second half. And point guard Jasmine James, still trying to rehab an injured knee, missed her third straight game.

    However, as a team, Georgia shot just 36.7 percent from the field (25-60) and an embarrassing 11.1 percent (one-of nine) from the arc. Indeed, the Dawgs couldn’t even make their penalty shots, shooting an embarrassing 30 percent (three-of-10 from the line.)

    Moreover, after holding their own on the boards against the Vandy bigs in the first half (20 Georgia rebounds to 19 for the ‘Dores), the Bulldogs seemed to just give it up in the second, as Vanderbilt dominated the glass, pulling down just 19 rebounds to just eight for Georgia.

    Georgia, in its the second-straight loss, seemed over-aggressive elsewhere, and their resultant fouls threw off their game.

    “A lot of things we talked about from a plan standpoint we didn’t do,” Georgia coach Andy Landers said. “Vanderbilt does some things defensively very well. But they also have some weaknesses, and we didn’t do a good job of exploiting those things.

    “Our energy on the defensive end for the first four or five minutes was pretty good, but when we didn’t score we let that affect our effort on defense.”

    In the second half, however, Georgia’s problems seemed to come on the other side of the ball.

    “I thought our offensive decision-making (in the second half) led to our downfall,” Landers continued.

    In contrast, Vanderbilt shot 52.1 percent from the field—including a sizzling 66.7 percent in the second half—and nine-of-20 (45 percent) from three-point range.

    Landers accurately summed things up:“Give credit to Vanderbilt, the three-ball is something that they’re very, very good at and they knocked them down. “Entering the game,” Landers continued, “I hoped to win the rebounding battle but we were very lackluster in that area.”

  • No. 7/9 Tennessee 86 @ Alabama

    Tennessee, fresh off its 29-point horsewhipping in its non-conference detour at Notre Dame, vented its frustrations with a 30-point win at lowly Alabama, 86-56.

    Despite coming off the bench while nursing a sore knee, Shekinna Stricklen led the Vols with 14 points, while fellow-senior Glory Johnson tacked on 13, plus eight rebounds. Kamiko Williams and Isabelle Harrison, also coming off the bench, pitched in 10 apiece, with Harrison grabbing six rebounds. Starting point guard Ariel Massengale notched just one point but served up 11 dishes with just one turnover.

    “We were happy with the pace we played,” Tennessee game coach Holly Warlick said. “Obviously, we wanted to score. We wanted an up-tempo game. I thought the first half, Alabama hung tough with us.”

    Tennessee scored 25 points off 22 ‘Bama turnovers, 11 of them generated off steals. Meanwhile, the Vols kept a firm grip on the rock, coughing it up only eight times. Moreover, the Lady Vols dished up an impressive 22 assists to fuel their 32 buckets.

    Kyra Crosby had a game-high 15 points and five rebounds for the Crimson Tide, which lost their seventh straight in conference play.

  • Arkansas 51 @ Mississippi State 35

    After a sluggish start to conference play, Arkansas has been coming on strong of late, picking up its fourth-straight win, as the Razorbacks batted down a school-record eight blocks and senior Ashley Daniels scored her first double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds in a 51-35 win at Mississippi State.

    Daniels’ 10 points made this her fourth consecutive game in double figures and added two blocks for Arkansas.

    Junior Sarah Watkins contributed five blocks, to go with eight points and 10 rebounds, to the record-making team swats tally.

    C’eira Ricketts led the Razorbacks in scoring with a game-high 14 points, plus three rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block, but three turnovers.

    Now 15-5 overall and 4-4 in conference play, if Arkansas maintains its current momentum, the Hogs could well become a fifth SEC team to punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

    Meanwhile, Mississippi State slid to 13-7 overall and 3-4 in conference action, hanging on to its place in the postseason conversation by a thread.

    No State player managed double-digit scoring, with center Martha Alwal and guard Porsha Porter leading their team with just seven points apiece. Alwal also tied the game-high with 14 rebounds.

    On a brighter note, Mississippi State, led by Alwal’s six swats recorded 10 blocks, in pretty much the only area in which they outdid the Razorbacks on this night.

    Speaking of slow starts, the term doesn’t begin to cover it, as neither team shot the ball at all well. Arkansas netted just nine of its 32 first-half shots from the field (28.1 percent), while MSU couldn’t even accomplish that much, hitting only seven-of-26 (26.9 percent) in the opening period.

    The Razorbacks managed to pick it up a notch in the second period, improving, albeit marginally, to 33 percent (11-of-33), but State fared even worse as the game wore on, dropping to just 24-percent field-goal shooting (six-of-25) in the second stanza.

    And things were even uglier on the perimeter, where each team heaved up 15 long-balls, with Arkansas connecting on two (13.3 percent) and MSU on just one (6.7 percent).

    And when the spectators weren’t watching the bricks sail past, they could revel in the display of poor ball-handling, particularly by the home side, which coughed the ball up 22 times, to Arkansas’s 17 turnovers. (With the Razorbacks registering just eight steals, most of those 22 MSU miscues were unforced.)

    “Statistically it wasn’t a pretty game,” conceded Arkansas coach Tom Collen, “but we hung in there and we are happy to go home with the win.” Collen explained his strategy after the game.

    “We made the decision to go into a zone and it was a difference-maker for us,” he stated. “On offense we were able to spread them out a bit and get the ball inside in the second half.  We had to dribble-penetrate them and we made enough good plays to win.”

  • Ole Miss 43 @ South Carolina 61

    South Carolina used its renewed energy to win a second straight, 61-43, besting visiting Mississippi. The Gamecocks have 16 wins, third-best in the league.

    They took a 35-16 halftime edge and coasted.

    Markeshia Grant’s 20 points – 11 after intermission—led the way for South Carolina.  La’Keisha Sutton hit four 3-pointers in the first-half outburst, finishing with 17 points.

    Senior guard Ieasia Walker had a career-high seven assists.

    “It was great for (Markeshia) and (La’Keisha) from a confidence standpoint,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “La’Keisha has been shooting the ball well. Markeshia has been slowly getting back to taking her shots, her normal shots where she’s not thinking about it, just taking shots within our offense. It was one of the keys coming into this game, to take shots within our offense, and we did a pretty good job with that.”

    Valencia McFarland and Tia Faleru led Ole Miss with 12 apiece; Faleru also yanked down a game-high nine boards.

    The Gamecocks have another winnable game Sunday, against Mississippi State, before heading to Tennessee and Arkansas.

Current SEC Standings

SEC Women’s Basketball Standings
(As of January 27, 2012)
Rank School Conf. Pct. Overall Pct.
1 Kentucky 8-0 1.000 19-2 .905
2 Tennessee 6-1 .857 15-5 .750
3 (tie) Georgia 5-3 .625 16-5 .762
3 (tie) South Carolina 5-3 .625 16-5 .762
5 LSU 4-3 .571 14-6 .700
6 Arkansas 4-4 .500 15-5 .750
7 Vanderbilt 3-4 .429 15-5 .750
8 (tie) Mississippi State 3-4 .429 13-7 .650
8 (tie) Florida 3-4 .429 13-7 .650
10 Ole Miss 2-6 .250 12-9 .571
11 Auburn 2-6 .250 10-11 .476
12 Alabama 0-7 .000 10-11 .476
Source: secdigitalnetwork.com

Coming Up this Weekend: Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012

  • No. 7/9 Tennessee @ No. 17/15 Georgia

    Georgia has just two days to recover from its midweek loss to Vanderbilt before hosting No. 6/9 Tennessee, the only SEC team with just one loss, on Sunday. Landers is pushing to his maximize home-court advantage with a big crowd, and the university has responded with an offer of free T-shirts to the first several hundred students as well as with pizza and soft drink coupons. The game will belong to whichever team is able to control tempo.

    When: Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012, 5:00 p.m. EST, Stegeman Coliseum, Athens, Ga. (ESPN2).

  • Florida @ Arkansas This has the makings of a good one: The Gators typically put more points on the board (66.9) than the resurgent Razorbacks (62.3), but Arkansas is a considerably better defensive team, holding opponents to just 52 points per game on average, than Florida, which allows 58.5. And though certainly not reflected in its meeting with Mississippi State earlier this week, Arkansas is also the more efficient team as measured by field-goal percentage. Perhaps as important as an given stat, however, The Razorbacks own both the home-court advantage and the momentum. When: Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012, 3:00 p.m. EST/2:00 p.m. CST, Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, Ark. (Razorvision)

  • LSU @ Vanderbilt

    The Lady Tigers have lost Destini Hughes for the season after her knee injury at Tennessee, but Sunday’s game will feature the return of LSU’s only remaining true point guard, Jeanne Kennedy, who suffered a concussion against Tennessee and has missed three straight games. The outcome of the game will depend a great deal on how quickly Kennedy returns to full strength: The Tigers have performed poorly without the pair, barely missing a fourth-straight loss Tuesday against ETSU, while Vandy has been on a roll, winning its last two games against conference opponents, including nationally ranked Georgia. The safe money would have to be on the Commodores.

    When: Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012, 3:00 p.m. EST/2:00 p.m. CST, Memorial Coliseum, Nashville, Tenn.

  • Alabama @ No. 6 Kentucky

    The Crimson Tide is still on the hunt for their first conference win. The odds that they’ll finds it in Lexington, against the league’s only remaining unbeaten team in conference play: Negligible.

    When: Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012, 2:00 p.m. EST, Memorial Coliseum, Lexington, Ky. (CSS) 

  • Auburn @ Ole Miss

    Two of the league’s cellar dwellers face off in this one, with Auburn only a game ahead of the Rebels. Since the conference season began, Ole Miss has performed almost equally badly regardless where it played, but then again, Auburn hasn’t traveled very well. Auburn is not a particularly strong team, but they’re the better bet to pick up the “W” in this game.

    When: Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012, 2:00 p.m. EST/1:00 p.m. CST, Tad Smith Coliseum, Oxford, Miss. (FSN) 

  • Mississippi State @ South Carolina

    State has been, at best, erratic, and carries a two-game losing streak into this match-up, despite predictable losses to some of the league’s strongest contenders, South Carolina, which stands third in the conference, seems to be getting nothing but stronger in league play. Moreover, the Gamecocks have been very tough to upset at home, while MSU has been only so-so on the road. You’d have to give South Carolina, which seems to have an NCAA bid well within its grasp, the inside edge, though State has got to realize that its time to get things turned around is growing small.

    When: Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012, 2:00 p.m. EST, Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, So. Car. (SEC Network)


Originally published Thu, January 26, 2012

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Week: February 7, 2012
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
6 Miami (FL) 20-3 7 7 6 604
7 Kentucky 21-3 5 15 7 584
8 Maryland 20-3 10 10 8 534
9 Wisconsin-Green Bay 20-0 9 24 9 530
10 Ohio State 21-2 11 NR-RV
10 483
11 Tennessee 17-6 8 3 11 476
12 Delaware 20-1 13 NR 12 434
13 Georgetown 18-5 15 11 14 379
14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
15 Nebraska 19-3 18 NR 13 309
16 Rutgers 17-4 14 12 17 372
17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
19 234
19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
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Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.