SEC Big East Invitational
The game that many college basketball fans have been anticipating for quite some time is finally here, as #5 North Carolina (6-1) visits #1 Kentucky (7-0) in Lexington. While both teams are coming off of wins in their last games, the way in which the results were achieved differ greatly. North Carolina had to deal with the challenge of play Wisconsin, given the Badgers' preference for a slow tempo, while Kentucky blew out a St. John's team that was severely overmatched from a depth standpoint.
To this point in the season Dion Waiters was playing more minutes per game than senior starter Scoop Jardine, as the Syracuse sophomore was playing good basketball. But Jardine displayed his value in the second half of Friday's game against Florida, scoring eight of Syracuse' nine points during a critical stretch that put the Orange in control of a game they went on to win 72-68. Jardine finished with 16 points and seven assists while Brandon Triche (20 points) and Kris Joseph (14) also finished in double figures.
The Friday night schedule may be light in quantity but it certainly doesn't lack for quality, with a pair of Top 20 matchups in the HTC Big East/SEC Invitational. #9 Florida (5-1) visits #3 Syracuse (7-0) in a game that promises to be played at a fast tempo, and given the offensive weapons that will be on display it should be high-scoring as well. This is the Gators' second true road game against a Top 5 opponent this season, as they fell at Ohio State in mid-November, which should pay off for this group when the stakes get raised in SEC play.
Thursday's schedule is highlighted by the first night of the SEC/Big East Invitational, and while the marquee games are tomorrow there are solid match ups to keep track of tonight. At the top of that list has to be Georgetown (5-1) heading south to take on #12 Alabama (7-0), and the question will be what John Thompson III's big men can do against JaMychal Green (15.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg) and Tony Mitchell (14.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg).
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