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March 5, 2009, 12:52 PM ET
Weirdest Night Ever in the SEC

by John Gasaway

I mean, where to start?

In Lexington: Georgia 90, Kentucky 85
I recently wrote a piece seeking to define more precisely the term “bad loss.” This is a bad loss. Stupendously, unfathomably, piercingly, soul-crushingly bad. At home in your venerable arena, to a team that comes in 2-12 in your conference and is being led by an interim coach. The Bulldogs are on-track to be, along with the 2008 editions of both Rutgers and Oregon State, one of the most impotent offenses of recent major-conference history. Not last night! Pete Herrmann’s team racked up 90 points in 75 possessions, thanks in large part to 11-of-16 shooting on their threes. (Terrance Woodbury and Corey Butler were a combined 7-of-7.) Fluke? Somewhat. Does it matter how much of a fluke it was? Not much. It is done.

In Baton Rouge: Vanderbilt 75, LSU 67
It took two solid months of Basketball Prospectus editorializing but people were finally starting to come around on Trent Johnson’s Tigers. (Oh, yeah. It was all us. Our influence is exceeded only by our glamour.) Then this. Yes, the Commodores have been playing better of late, but this? A.J. Ogilvy tore through the hitherto reputable LSU interior D like a Kentucky Secretary of State ripping into his beloved team, scoring 33 points on 12-of-17 shooting from the field and 9-of-14 marksmanship from the line. On any ordinary day I’d haul out the superlatives to limn what a bad loss this was.

In Starkville: Mississippi State 80, Florida 71
Bad in a different way. While there’s no particular shame attached to losing by (high) single digits in Starkville, the Gators’ tournament hopes are much more precarious than they were 12 days ago.

The Have-Nots Rose Up on March 4 
Through games of March 4, conference games only
Pace: possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: points per possession    Opp. PPP: opponent points per possession
EM: efficiency margin (PPP - Opp. PPP)

                                    Opp.
                     Pace    PPP    PPP      EM
1.  LSU              69.6    1.10   0.97   +0.13
2.  Florida          70.2    1.11   1.05   +0.06
3.  Kentucky         69.4    1.04   0.98   +0.06
4.  Auburn           70.0    1.04   0.99   +0.05
5.  Tennessee        68.5    1.10   1.05   +0.05
6.  South Carolina   75.4    1.02   1.00   +0.02
7.  Alabama          70.4    1.04   1.05   -0.01
8.  Mississippi St.  69.9    1.02   1.03   -0.01
9.  Ole Miss         68.4    1.04   1.06   -0.02
10. Vanderbilt       68.3    1.01   1.05   -0.04
11. Arkansas         70.6    0.99   1.09   -0.10
12. Georgia          70.3    0.89   1.07   -0.18 
 

Note to hoops pundits pooh-poohing Auburn’s worth: the teams above the Tigers are certainly doing everything in their power to elevate Jeff Lebo’s team still further.

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