SEC hoops roundup: Conference takes step back in first week of December
The SEC didn’t fare well on the hardcourt in the first week of December. Three of the conference’s best teams all stubbed their toes in their first true road contests of the season. Here’s the roundup of how the SEC fared this week:
Kentucky upset by UCLA
The main SEC storyline came from Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles last Thursday night. Kentucky fell to UCLA in its first road game, 87-77. The Wildcats led for just 54 seconds and could never climb out of what turned into a double-digit deficit.
The Wildcats shot 37.9 percent from the floor and only 32 percent from 3-point range. Sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis scored only nine points on 2 of 12 shooting, while Skal Labissiere scored six points with one rebound.
On the flipside, the Bruins shot a blistering 52.9 percent from the field and made five 3-point field goals.
Last year’s Kentucky team didn’t lose until the Final Four. This year’s team received the taste of defeat much earlier.
Ben Simmons ends LSU’s losing skid
Freshman forward Ben Simmons may have already earned the No. 1 pick in next summer’s NBA draft. His performance against North Florida last Wednesday certainly merited hype.
Simmons scored 43 points on 15 of 20 shooting, brought down 14 rebounds, tallied seven assists, five steals and three blocks. By the way, LSU won 119-108 and ended its three-game losing streak.
Simmons became the first Tigers player since Shaquille O’Neal in 1991 to put up 43 points and the first collegiate player in 20 years with at least 40 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals.
Vanderbilt loses another hard-fought game
Vanderbilt lost to its second Big 12 opponent of the season when it fell to Baylor, 69-67, on Sunday in its first road game of the season. The Commodores shot far better from the field than the Bears, but committed 17 crucial turnovers.
Vandy’s second loss dropped it to No. 21 in the latest AP Top 25 Poll. The ‘Dores were the only other SEC team ranked inside the top 25.
Texas A&M dropped by the Sun Devils
The Aggies were viewed by many as one of the biggest threats to Kentucky in the conference, but they fell to an upstart Arizona State team, 67-54, on the road last Saturday.
A&M was clearly frazzled by the road environment. The Aggies went 19 of 61 from the field and turned the ball over 14 times in defeat. The loss dropped the Aggies from No. 18 to outside of the AP Top 25 Poll entirely.