Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

East Shows West Isn't SEC's Best

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

East Shows West Isn't SEC's Best

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael DiRocco, The Times-Union

ATLANTA -- Apparently, the East is the beast.

All four semifinal teams in the SEC Tournament at the Georgia Dome -- Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina and Vanderbilt -- were from the Eastern Division. It is the first time since divisional play began in 1992 that the semifinalists were all from the same division.

"With no offense intended toward the West, I'm not surprised," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "Our side was tougher and better this year. Not that their side wasn't difficult. They were good, too, but the Eastern Division is maybe the toughest division in all of college basketball."

Mississippi State won the regular-season title, but two of the Bulldogs' three losses were to Eastern Division teams (Kentucky and Vanderbilt). The Bulldogs were the only Western Division team to finish with a winning league record, and three teams finished with losing SEC records (Mississippi, Auburn and Arkansas).

As many as five Eastern Division teams could make the NCAA Tournament, depending on whether the selection committee gives Georgia an at-large bid.

FRUSTRATED FREIJE

It was not a good tournament for Vanderbilt forward Matt Freije, the league's preseason Player of the Year and a first-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press and the coaches. He entered the tournament averaging 19.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, but averaged just 12.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in three tournament games.

"I haven't shot well all tournament," said Freije, who had his worst game against Florida on Saturday (4 for 12, 11 points, three rebounds). "I'll come out Monday for practice and hopefully correct it."

Freije went 3 for 7 with 14 points and six rebounds against Ole Miss on Thursday and 5 for 16 with 13 points and four rebounds against Mississippi State on Friday. …

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