With March Madness a couple short months away, the frontrunner for SEC Player of the Year put the struggling program on his broad shoulders and pushed us nearer the so-called cut line. Coming off two tough league losses and projected by ESPN Big Dance expert Joe Lunardi within the 5th-8th teams from reaching the NCAA tourney, senior Yante Maten popped in twenty-one points including the game winner. He finished the game the leading scorer and rebounder in perhaps the deepest league in the nation. Eight SEC teams were projected in, with LSU (first four out) and Georgia (next four out) equating to a full ten tough programs. The other four may not actually be so bad, either, which is why I declared this the deepest SEC in recent memory in my last Houndspeak. Consider that my grandfather’s school, Texas A&M, started 0-5 in the SEC and still in (Lunardi said).
Han Vance of BIG HAIRY BLAWG here, folks, reporting on men’s basketball for you under the new sub-brand Houndspeak. As much as I love football – which if you read my Blawg over the past decade and caught it on Bulldawg Illustrated this season there is zero doubt about my passion for pigskin – our family sport of play has generally been basketball. If my sister had been a lights out point guard or instead say a seven-foot black dude with a developed drop step, my siblings and I alone would have had a legit starting five. All four males played and our definitively worst player – the youngest, the whipping boy who’d been toughened like leather or near-steel over years of abuse from guarding my middle brothers, each 6-foot-plus brutal bodybuilders, while I yelled at him to man up – played four years of college basketball in Asheville, North Carolina, the certifiable basketball state of the South. Well, I suppose Florida has become a bit of a basketball school, too. That must sting, Gators.
I digress. The only college basketball player to already have a master’s degree, Sir Juwan Parker hit a huge three-pointer on the bayou, deep into a Tuesday contest our Hoop Hounds had trailed by a full ten at the break. The short college game surely doesn’t allow much time to come back from a big deficit, but the Dawgs shot well and Yante led the way, especially with his continued excellent free throw shooting. When the Bengals reclaimed the lead with an inside bucket after Juwan was dead on, the whole building knew that Maten was getting the rock. Pick and roll worked to perfection, he did. Rattle. Pop. His biggest shot of the still young year dropped.
LSU had another chance but didn’t look ready to dance tonight. In the end, our Dawgs playing like the team more determined. We won by only one yet this may be the single game that ultimately bursts the Bengals bubble and propels Georgia into the NCAAs. At 3-3 in-league there is nothing to crow about, but a 12-5 mark is above where Coach Fox normally sits this time of year, and if he really is worthy of the esteem he earns for player development, he should be able to find a couple guys to truly compliment Maten amongst this deep, long roster.
Dawgs visit a far better than usual Auburn Saturday at 6 p.m. (EST), with pecking order on the line. The site of our only regular-season loss in college football. Interesting scheduling factoids for the less than rabid: there are no divisions in SEC basketball anymore, and we have never played Texas A&M in football since they joined the league, while we will go at LSU on the bayou for a football game this calendar year. In basketball, at least you play everybody every year.
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