LSU, Georgia need big wins in SEC games this week

Published 10:50 am Friday, February 20, 2015

A few things to watch in Southeastern Conference basketball this week:

GAME OF THE WEEK: Florida at LSU on Saturday. The Gators have had a rough season, especially by their lofty standards, but the program’s 6-7 SEC record (13-13 overall) is a little deceiving. Florida’s last five losses in league play have all been close, including three by just one point. LSU (18-8, 7-6) has lots of talent — especially in the frontcourt with Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey — but hasn’t been able to string together victories. If the Tigers don’t win on Saturday, their NCAA tournament hopes will take another major hit.

LOOKING AHEAD: Georgia (16-9, 7-6) once looked like one of the SEC’s best teams, but has had a brutal stretch that’s included back-to-back home losses to Auburn and South Carolina. Now the Bulldogs’ prospects for an NCAA tournament bid don’t look certain at all. Two road contests against Alabama and Mississippi will be very important this week.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Texas A&M guard Danuel House scored 20 points Tuesday in a 68-62 victory over LSU. The 6-foot-7 junior is averaging 17 points per game over his last four contests. During that four-game stretch, House has shot 11 of 22 from 3-point range.

NUMBERS GAME: No. 1 Kentucky’s 26-0 record marks the best start in school history — the Wildcats finished 25-0 in 1953-54 — but it’s the third time a team coached by John Calipari has been 26-0. Calipari got there with Massachusetts in 1995-96 and Memphis in 2007-08. Both those teams reached the Final Four, but neither won a national title. … Vanderbilt’s 50-47 loss at Florida on Wednesday dropped the Commodores’ record to 0-6 in games decided by three points or less. Vanderbilt did beat Yale in overtime 79-74, but that game ended with a five-point margin. … Florida coach Billy Donovan now has 499 career wins. He is 464-182 in 19 seasons at Florida and 499-202 in 21 seasons overall.

ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: No. 6 Tennessee lost its leading scorer and rebounder this week when senior center Isabelle Harrison tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. Harrison was averaging 12.8 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. “We’re definitely just trying to play our best for her and get to Tampa (the home of the Final Four) for her,” Tennessee forward Cierra Burdick said. “That’s been our goal since Day One, but now we have even more motivation, with her going out. That’s what she wants us to do.”