* Always take the home team in SEC hoops…
* Unless Kentucky or Florida are the road teams…
* And unless Georgia or South Carolina are the home teams.
If you’d done that this season, you’d have won about 75% of your bets. Last night was no exception. As noted above, LSU, Tennessee and Vanderbilt all held serve in their home arenas last night.
After spotting Mississippi a 15-2 early lead, Tennessee outscored the Rebels 71-45 over the game’s final 34 minutes to keep its own NIT hopes alive and kill off UM’s slim NCAA Tournament at-large hopes. The Volunteers also maintained a share of fourth place in the SEC, not too shabby for a squad picked to finish 11th in the league.
UT’s Jeronne Maymon continued his recent good play with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Maymon and the rest of Tennessee’s in-the-paint crew outrebounded Ole Miss by 12 and outscored them by 8.
Terrance Henry led the Rebels with 15 points.
Trent Johnson won the Battle of the Buddies and inched closer to the NCAA Tournament bubble with the victory. LSU has now won four games in a row and five of their last six. That’s a long way from the school’s 3-3 start that included losses to Coastal Carolina, Northwestern and South Alabama. At 17-10 with three regular season games to play, the hot seat talk regarding Johnson has hopefully been quieted for good.
Georgia — once again playing hard for Johnson’s old assistant, Mark Fox — cut a 10-point deficit to four with 27 seconds to play before finally succumbing. The Dawgs are now just 12-15 on the season, but they haven’t loss in double-digits since a January 24th date with Kentucky. If nothing else, they’re competitive.
Andre Stringer led LSU with 18 points. Gerald Robinson, Jr. scored 17 for Georgia.
When Vandy has its shooting stroke, the Commodores can drop 100 on you. Ask Ole Miss. When they aren’t hitting? You get games like last night’s affair with last-place South Carolina. The Gamecocks — who’ve now lost seven of eight and have won just two league games all season — hung around until Festus Ezeli hit two free throws to finally give VU a double-digit lead with just about four minutes to play.
Free throws were, in fact, the story of the night. Vanderbilt went to the line 26 times and drained 23 foul shots. Carolina was just 4-of-4 from the charity stripe.
John Jenkins led the Dores with 21 points as they stayed within one game of second-place Florida and locked up their seventh 20-win season in the past nine years. USC was led in scoring — of course — by Bruce Ellington who netted 15.