Even a mere 3 games into conference play, the heat has definitely been turned up to a different level. The story to this point has been Mississippi State – who struggled mightily in the non-conference portion of their schedule – has come out like gangbusters, rolling to a 3-0 start in league play. They haven’t played an upper-tier SEC team yet, but they’ve handled business against LSU, UGA, and a Kentucky team that has a losing record 15 games into the season. Jarvis Varnado has quickly become a household name with his high-flying act. His big-man triple double (10p, 12r, 10b) against UK on ESPN Tuesday night was impressive.
In-state rival Ole Miss is apparently determined to give its fan base heart attacks each and every game. Through 3 games, the Rebels are 2-1 including a 2pt loss, a 3pt win, and a 2pt win. They battled #6 Tennessee to the waning moments before losing that game and built up big 2nd half leads on both LSU and Florida before having to hang on down the stretch. Still, the job Andy Kennedy has done there is nothing short of remarkable and as those freshmen continue to mature, they may be a tough out come March.
Other Random Thoughts
*If the countdown clock for John Brady wasn’t on before last night, it’s certainly on now. LSU – up 22-7 at one point – lost at the PMAC last night to an Auburn team with only a handful of scholarship players available. Again, if he survives the full SEC season, I’ll be surprised.
*That said, Mark Gottfried may be joining him in the unemployment line if Alabama doesn't figure out how to win at some point soon.
*Arkansas’ loss to South Carolina at home is absolutely inexcusable. Stan Heath was shown the door in part because he couldn’t win on the road, but his teams normally did a good job of protecting the home floor. This year’s club has in-state losses now to a 9-8 South Carolina team and a 9-6 Appalachian State team whose 2nd best win is over an 8-8 College of Charleston team.
*Kentucky's win over Vandy to open conference play may have been an aberration. While it was easily their best win of the year, they outrebounded Vanderbilt 42-21 and it still took them 2 OTs to knock of the 'Dores. No way it should take you 10 extra minutes of basketball to beat someone you outrebound 2-1.
*The SEC West is already separating the good from the bad from the ugly. Alabama and LSU are already 0-3 in conference and Auburn is 1-2. MSU, Arkansas, and Ole Miss should benefit greatly from getting 2 games a piece with those 3.