Charles Mann led three players in double figures with 19 points, eight boards and four assists as Georgia pounded bubble-dweller Missouri at home, 71-56, on Tuesday night.
The loss is just devastating for Missouri’s at-large resume, as the Tigers dropped to 19-9 overall and 7-8 in the SEC. They’ve now lost two in a row — at Alabama and at Georgia — and five of their last eight games, essentially putting themselves in a position where they have to win their last three regular season games and do some damage in the SEC tournament just to have a shot at dancing.
Georgia has now officially staked their claim as the third-best team in the SEC. They’re two games up on five teams tied for fourth place with three games left. They have wins over Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss and, now, a sweep of Missouri. They’re the only team other than Kentucky and Florida to have double-figures in wins in league play with just two weeks left in the regular season.
And if you really want to get a feel for how bad the SEC is this year, I just wrote this about Georgia — the third-best team in the SEC — two paragraphs earlier: “The loss is just devastating for Missouri’s at-large resume.”
Think about that.
The SEC’s third-best team has no shot at earning an at-large bid to the tournament, their role diminished to playing the spoiler until they take their shot at winning the league’s automatic bid. And Missouri, who had climbed their way into the top 25 earlier this season, has managed to find themselves sitting tied for ninth place.
With every bad loss a bubble team takes, it looks more and more likely that the only way the SEC gets a third team into the tournament is through someone unexpected winning the SEC tournament title.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.