Surg­ing Ole Miss, USC are SEC’s early sur­prises

The Bradenton Herald - - College Sports - BY STEVE MEGARGEE AND DAVID BRANDT

are some things to watch in South­east­ern Con­fer­ence bas­ket­ball this week:


Mis­sis­sippi at No. 14 Mis­sis­sippi State: Ole Miss (12-2, 2-0 SEC) is shap­ing up as the SEC’s big­gest sur­prise un­der new coach Ker­mit Davis. The pre­sea­son pick to fin­ish last in the con­fer­ence has opened its league sched­ule by win­ning at Van­der­bilt and knock­ing off No. 11 Auburn at home. The Rebels head into Starkville on Satur­day seek­ing to slay an­other ranked foe and earn their 10th straight vic­tory. Mis­sis­sippi State (12-2, 0-1) is look­ing to bounce back from an 8782 over­time loss at South Carolina .


It’s dif­fi­cult to get a han­dle on South Carolina. The Game­cocks en­tered league play as the only SEC team with a los­ing record, but they’re 2-0 in the con­fer­ence with wins at Florida and against ranked Mis­sis­sippi State. The vic­tory over Florida gave South Carolina backto-back wins in Gainesville for the first time since 1997-98. South Carolina (7-7, 2-0) now shapes up as the SEC’s hard­est team to fig­ure. The Game­cocks’ next two games are against teams seek­ing their first SEC wins of the sea­son, as they host Mis­souri (9-4, 0-1) on Satur­day be­fore vis­it­ing Van­der­bilt (9-5, 0-2) on Wednes­day.


No. 3 Ten­nes­see (13-1, 2-0) has outscored its first two SEC op­po­nents by a to­tal of 70 points. TenHere nessee’s 96-50 vic­tory over Ge­or­gia on Satur­day was one point shy of its most lop­sided SEC tri­umph ever – a 102-55 blowout of Ole Miss on Jan. 8, 1966. … Ole Miss is 2-0 in SEC play for only the fourth time in the last 20 sea­sons. Af­ter beat­ing Auburn, the Rebels have a 1,305-1,304 record over 109 sea­sons of bas­ket­ball. …. Ken­tucky’s vic­tory over Texas A&M on Tues­day im­proved the Wild­cats to 47-12 when com­ing off a loss dur­ing John Cali­pari’s coach­ing ten­ure. That in­cludes a 3-0 mark this sea­son. … Auburn’s Bryce Brown shot a ca­reer-high 19 3-point at­tempts in the Tigers’ loss to Ole Miss on Wednes­day. He made six of his first 10 be­fore miss­ing eight of his fi­nal nine, fin­ish­ing 7 of 19 be­hind the arc.


Ole Miss guard Ter­ence Davis had 27 points and 12 re­bounds in the up­set of Auburn for the Rebels’ first dou­ble-dou­ble of the sea­son. The 6-foot-4 se­nior has scored at least 20 points in five of his last nine games and is shoot­ing 15 of 29 from 3-point range over his last seven con­tests. He is shoot­ing 50.6 per­cent over­all and 42.2 per­cent from be­yond the arc, up from 40.7 per­cent over­all and 31.7 per­cent on 3-point­ers last sea­son.


No. 13 Ten­nes­see has suf­fered con­sec­u­tive home losses for the first time since De­cem­ber 1996. The Lady Vols went on to win a na­tional ti­tle dur­ing that 1996-97 sea­son. Mis­souri’s 66-64 vic­tory at Ten­nes­see on Sun­day was the Tigers’ first reg­u­lar-sea­son road win over a top-10 team, as the Lady Vols were ranked 10th at the time of the game. Mis­souri’s only pre­vi­ous road win over a top-10 team was a 78-65 tri­umph over No. 4 Ge­or­gia in the 2001 NCAA Tour­na­ment. Ten­nes­see fol­lowed up the loss to Mis­souri by fall­ing 73-71 to No. 16 Ken­tucky.

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