Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The SEC is the Place to Be

Tennessee asserted themselves at home and ended upstart Mississippi's 13-game win streak with the Rebels' first loss of the season while surprising Vanderbilt improved to 16-0 with an 80-73 win over South Carolina.

The Commodores, ranked #13 nationally, needed a huge game from freshman A.J. Ogilvy, who scored 25 points, more than picking up the slack from SEC scoring leader Shan Foster, who hit only 4-11 from the field and tallied 13 points. The Gamecocks kept the game close until Vandy pulled away in the final four minutes. Devan Downey led South Carolina with 22 points.

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In Tennessee's 85-83 win, it was tighter down the stretch. The visiting Rebels led 83-79 with under two minutes remaining, but the Vols scored the final six points of the game, the last four on buckets by Tyler Smith, who finished with a team-high 21 points, the same number scored by JaJuan Smith, who had a hot first half with 16 points, including 4-6 shooting from 3-point range.

Mississippi's Chris Warren scored 24 to pace all scorers. With the win, the Vols and Rebels share identical 13-1 records as conference play in the SEC got underway. The two teams will not meet again during the regular season.

Both divisions look to be hotly contested. In the East, the main challenge for the Vols will come from Vanderbilt and Georgia. Florida, which won the division, conference and national championship last year, already has a conference win over Alabama, though they are nowhere near the same team that took the floor last season, having lost all five starters to the NBA.

In the West, Mississippi will have to contend with Mississippi St., Arkansas and Auburn, all of which were close to the division lead last season.

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