NO. 2 KENTUCKY (16-1, 2-0 SEC) AT TENNESSEE (8-7, 1-0 SEC)
The first Saturday of the new year proved to be far more exciting than anticipated, much to the detriment of ranked teams who took their show on the road. Removing #7 Missouri and #20 Marquette, who both lost on the road to ranked opponents (more on both of those games below), five ranked teams lost to unranked opponents with four of the losses coming on the road. The Big East provided the most intrigue, with #8 Connecticut and #9 Georgetown falling on the road while #10 Louisville lost in double overtime at home. So which of the three defeats is most concerning?
With suspensions ruling out two of their key interior players for the next six games, many wondered what Mick Cronin's Cincinnati Bearcats would do to make up for the absence of Yancy Gates and Cheikh Mbodj. Without a consistent scoring option in the paint the strategy was to let the guards go to work, and that they did in the Bearcats' 78-58 win at Wright State. Sean Kilpatrick, who was a non-factor in their loss at Xavier on Saturday, scored a game-high 20 points (6-12 3PT) while JaQuon Parker added 14 points and all five starters finished in double figures.
Thanks to the events of Saturday afternoon and their aftermath a dangerous road trip is now even tougher for Cincinnati (5-3), who will be shorthanded on their trip to Wright State (4-6). Yancy Gates, Cheikh Mbodj and Octavius Ellis are all suspended six games for their roles in Saturday's brawl at Xavier while Ge'Lawn Guyn sits one game, meaning that even with the Raiders having lost five of their last seven they've got every chance to defend their home floor successfully. So who steps up for the Bearcats?
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
In the days leading up to Indiana's game against#1 Kentucky at Assembly Hall there weren't too many people who thought that the Hoosiers could knock off the Wildcats. There were a few outside of the Indiana fan base who picked Tom Crean's team to win, but the majority of the predictions ranged anywhere from a close loss to a Kentucky blowout with IU's schedule to date being the main reason why.
On paper the matchup between Missouri and California looked to be a good matchup, with both teams fresh off of big wins in the semifinals of the CBE Classic in Kansas City. On the floor however, things got out of hand quickly for the Golden Bears as the Tigers rolled in front of a pro-Missouri crowd. Kim English scored 19 points and tournament MVP Marcus Denmon finished with 18 points and six rebounds as the Tigers won 92-53, and it could be argued that the 39-point margin doesn't do this result justice.
As part of our 5-Year Ranking series, here's how the SEC teams stack up according to conference wins. Unlike most leagues, there hasn't been one dominant team over the last handful of years. Florida and Kentucky have had some great years, but also some very mediocre ones mixed in. At the bottom of the league, LSU and South Carolina are close to forming a bottom rung of their own.
(1) Duke: lost to Arizona in the Sweet 16