Surging Ole Miss, South Carolina among SEC’s early surprises
Here are some things to watch in Southeastern Conference basketball this week:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
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 87-82 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 back-to-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. Tennessee’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.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE
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.