UK aims for 26th SEC title
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A quick glance around the Music City this week could be misleading.
You're not in Lexington, Ky., Louisville, Ky., or even Frankfort, Ky. It just looks that way.This city has already turned a distinct shade of blue, and No. 2-ranked Kentucky doesn't play until Friday. The No. 1 seed in the SEC's Eastern Division, the Wildcats are seeking their 26th SEC tournament championship. For perspective, their 25 tournament titles are more than all the other current SEC teams combined. No wonder this tourney was dubbed the Big Blue Invitational a long time ago, although Kentucky last walked away with the crown in 2004.
If it's defenders you're looking for, count how many shots Mississippi State's Jarvis Varnado swats into the third row. If you're looking for dunkers, check out Georgia's Travis Leslie. Better yet, go back and watch the one he threw down over Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins in Rupp Arena.
And speaking of the Wildcats, if you're looking for players, don't take your eyes off Kentucky freshman guard John Wall, who gets to the glass with frightening ease. Wall is far from a finished product, but he's at his best when the Wildcats need him most.Game to watch: The Auburn-Florida matchup on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET should provide plenty of drama. If the Tigers lose, it could very well be coach Jeff Lebo's last game with the Tigers. He's scheduled to meet with Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs after the season, and there are rumblings on the Plains that he won't be back after six seasons without an NCAA tournament appearance. If the Gators lose, they may be looking down the barrel of a third straight season without an NCAA tournament trip. That's after winning back-to-back NCAA championships in the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Red-hot: Ole Miss junior guard Chris Warren averaged close to 23 points per game during the Rebels' four-game winning streak to close the regular season. He finished one shy of his career high with 31 points in a 68-66 comeback win over Arkansas, scoring 20 points in the second half and helping Ole Miss erase an 11-point deficit with just over five minutes remaining. Under the radar: Vanderbilt forward Jeffery Taylor is one of the more underrated and complete players in the league. The 6-foot-7, 210-pound sophomore earned a spot on the SEC's All-Defensive team, while averaging 13.9 points and 5.1 rebounds and shooting 51.1 percent from the field. They said it: "I think right now as a basketball team we're pretty much hitting on all cylinders. I think we've got a lot of guys that are doing a lot of good things for our team right now on both ends of the floor, a lot of things that go into building a season and trying to prepare to win, and I think our guys are starting to understand what allows us to win on a consistent basis." -- Alabama coach Anthony Grant
Chris Low covers the SEC for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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