SEC Hoops Roundup: Several teams make statements during Thanksgiving weekend
Thanksgiving weekend treated the SEC pretty well. The unofficial beginning of the college basketball season meant many SEC squads were competing in tournaments. Here’s a look at how the conference fared during the holiday weekend:
Kentucky dominates, but Ulis injured
The SEC’s premier program didn’t play much during the holiday weekend, but it was still incredibly dominant. Kentucky’s lone contest was a meeting in Miami with South Florida on Friday.
The No. 1 Wildcats didn’t look too sluggish from their Thanksgiving meals, clobbering the Bulls 84-63. Freshman guard Jamal Murray led the way for Big Blue with 21 points, while freshman forward Skal Labissiere scored 17 points and brought down four rebounds.
The bigger storyline was the elbow injury sustained by sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis while trying to grab the ball on the floor. Ulis was diagnosed with a hyperextended right elbow and listed as day-to-day.
LSU stubs its toe during Legends Classic
Many people view LSU as the second-best team in the SEC, but the No. 22 Tigers put on a poor showing with two losses at the Legends Classic in Brooklyn.
LSU first lost an 81-80 battle with eventual tournament champion Marquette. The Tigers escaped a 10-0 hole and even had a chance to take the lead on the final possession.
The Tigers then lost an 83-72 overtime game to NC State in which freshman phenom Ben Simmons scored just four points.
It wasn’t all bad for Simmons, however. He totaled 25 points, 34 rebounds and 17 assists in the two games in the national spotlight.
Texas A&M upsets No. 10 Gonzaga, finishes second in Battle 4 Atlantis
The most impressive SEC team over the weekend was Texas A&M, which earned a signature win and second place in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
The No. 25 Aggies took down in-state rival Texas 84-73 in the tournament opener, but the marquee win came in their second game against No. 10 Gonzaga. Senior guard Danuel House poured in 19 points as the Aggies upset the Zags 62-61 to advance to the finals.
A&M’s run ended in the championship round, where it was upended by Syracuse 74-67. Texas A&M was led by senior guard Jalen Jones’ 23 points, but shot just 42.2 percent from the floor and 30 percent from 3-point range.
The Aggies proved they were for real and may pose the biggest threat to Kentucky in the conference.
Alabama upsets No. 20 Wichita State, No. 17 Notre Dame in AdvoCare Invitational
The second-biggest upset of the weekend came from Orlando, where Avery Johnson notched his first two signature wins as the head coach at Alabama.
The Crimson Tide put together their two best efforts of the season and knocked off No. 20 Wichita State 64-60 then No. 17 Notre Dame 74-73 on the final possession.
Junior forward Shannon Hale led Alabama with 20 points while sophomore forward Riley Norris added 12 points against Wichita State. The Tide held the Shockers to just 31.1 percent from the floor. Senior guard knocked off the Fighting Irish with a game-winning lay up and led the Crimson Tide with 19 points.
Auburn drops 119 points on Northwestern State
Auburn might not have played a top-notch opponent, but the Tigers drubbed Northwestern State 119-81, scoring 72 points in the second half alone.
Six Tigers scored in double figures, and the team shot a blistering 58.1 percent from the floor while going 17-of-32 from deep. It was certainly a confidence builder for the upstart Tigers.