Now that we’ve arrived at Bowl season for college football, it’s time to start thinking about basketball again. A lot has happened in the early going – a major player suffering a significant injury, a big blue underperforming, and even a game of 3-on-5. I’m just going to give a few of the bigger storylines so far within the SEC that have enthralled fans and analysts alike. There’s a lot to discuss, so let’s get into it.
Michael Porter Jr. suffers season-ending injury.
On opening night, Missouri forward and top NBA draft prospect Michael Porter Jr. suffered a significant hip injury that appears as though it is going to cost him what would have been his Freshman season. Porter is an elite scorer the likes of which college basketball hadn’t seen since Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant each ran the Big XII during their respective Freshman seasons. It’s a shame both fans and scouts won’t get to see him in action, but it hasn’t been a major letdown for the team itself. Mizzou has won 7 of its first 9 contests, and one of their losses was a close one on the road against a ranked West Virginia. Although his teammates miss him, his lost presence hasn’t had the type of impact one may have expected. The only question now is how it affects his draft stock, but if he makes a full recovery – his medicals check out and the scoring talent shows up again in his workouts – I have no doubt he’ll be a top-five pick come June.
Yes, I know the Wildcats are 7-1, and that one loss is a four-point defeat at the hands of perennial contender Kansas in a neutral site game. They are driven by Freshmen just the same as always, but this time the talent is just so much rawer than it’s been in past years. Kentucky basketball has not lived up to the early season expectations put on them by so many, and perhaps that’s because they lack an identity. Kevin Knox has emerged from the pack as the lead dog with Hamidou Diallo playing Robin to his Batman, but other key contributors like Quade Green, Nick Richards and company are still learning their way. Head coach John Calipari might have his toughest season yet on-tap, as these boys are going to need a lot of help if they hope to put up a banner like so many other great Kentucky Freshmen teams have done.
Alabama plays 3-on-5 for 10 minutes, nearly beats ranked Minnesota.
If you didn’t see this game, here’s a quick breakdown of what happened: Alabama’s entire bench got tossed for being on the floor when they shouldn’t have been; then a player fouled out; then a player got hurt, and three guys were left with 10:41 to go and a double-digit deficit to overcome against a very good Minnesota basketball team. I saw this Minnesota team come into the Dunkin Donuts Center at Providence and put a pretty good beating on my Friars, so when I tell you how impressive this near-comeback by Alabama was, I’m being sincere. They cut the deficit down to about three with under a minute remaining, and Collin Sexton carried the load with a game-high 40 points in what was easily the craziest night of college basketball so far in 2017. Even though they lost, Alabama showed what type of team they are, and I expect big things from them going forward.
Mississippi State last SEC team undefeated.
Well, they haven’t played anybody significant, and they’ve played a lot of bad teams rather poorly. But here we are! The Bulldogs are somehow the only SEC team without a loss, as they sit at a pretty 7-0 early in the month of December. Sophomore Tyson Carter leads the team in scoring with 15.7 PPG, and the team as a whole is 21st in the nation in points allowed, so there are some good things going for them besides the record. Nevertheless, they’re 158th in PPG, and given the nature of their schedule so far, Mississippi State is in-line for a big wakeup call when conference play starts. It probably won’t last, but good for them for being one of the few remaining teams without a loss.
There are a lot more headlines I could give, but those are the big ones. There’s a lot of basketball still to be played in the SEC, and I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out in the end.
All stats & info courtesy ESPN.
Cover photo courtesy usatodaysports.files.wordpress.com.