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Hoop Hogs Picked to Win SEC’s Western Division

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Hoop Hogs Picked to Win SEC’s Western Division

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – First-year Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey and his Razorbacks are picked to win the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division title in a pre-season vote of media, which was released by the league on Tuesday.

Arkansas received 18 first-place votes and 168 points to finish ahead of Mississippi State, which had 10 first-place votes and 148 points. Alabama was third with 111 points, followed by Auburn with 94, LSU 63 and Ole Miss with 46.

“That means nothing at all,” Pelphrey says. “That’s a paper championship. We’re not concerned with what happens in the pre-season. We’re more concerned with how the season ends. Every fan, coach and player is excited about the season, and we’ll see what happens.”

Tennessee received 30 first-place votes and 180 points in earning the nod in the Eastern Division. Kentucky was second with 142 points, followed by Florida with 103, Vanderbilt with 98, Georgia 69 and South Carolina 38.

Patrick Beverley, last year’s SEC Freshman of the Year by the league’s coaches and the conference Newcomer of the Year by the Associated Press, is a pre-season first-team all-conference selection. Beverley, who was second-team All-SEC last year, ranked among league leaders in nine of 13 categories. He was 16th in scoring (13.9), 29th in rebounding (4.5), 15th in assists (3.14), sixth in steals (1.74), third in free-throw percentage (.812), eighth in three-point percentage (.386), 12th in three-point goals per game (2.09), 11th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.57) and fourth in minutes played (1,203).

Senior center Steven Hill is on the second team. Last year’s SEC Defensive Player of the Year, he has ranked second in the league in blocked shots each of his first three seasons. He is third on Arkansas’ career chart and 11th on the SEC’s career chart with 244 rejections. His .641 field goal percentage last season was the best for a Razorback with 100 or more attempts since Oliver Miller shot 70.4 percent in 1991. Hill averaged 6.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocked shots.

“It’s nice that people recognize Patrick and Steven as being good players,” Pelphrey says. “It’s a compliment to them, their hard work and the team’s success last year.”

Beverley and Hill are two of five returning starters and nine total lettermen back from last year’s 21-14 squad which won the Old Spice Classic, reached the finals of the SEC Tournament and earned a second straight NCAA Tournament bid.

The other returning starters are senior guard Gary Ervin (9.9 ppg), a two-time SEC Player of the Week last year who was fifth in the league in assists (4.83); senior forward Charles Thomas (10.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg), who needs 165 points to reach 1,000 for his career, and 176 rebounds and 57 free throws to move into the school’s all-time top 10 in those categories; and senior forward Sonny Weems (11.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg), who was named to the Old Spice Classic and SEC all-tournament teams, and finished second on the team in scoring, rebounding and steals (1.3).

The other returning lettermen are senior center Darian Townes (8.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg), who needs 107 points to reach 1,000 for his career and 158 rebounds to make the top 10; senior forward Vincent Hunter (2.8 ppg), who has played in 83 games over his career; sophomore forward Michael Washington (3.5 ppg), who averaged 9.3 points over the last six games last year; and sophomore guard Stefan Welsh (3.2 ppg), who played 16 or more minutes in six of the last seven games last year.

EASTERN DIVISION

Tennessee (30) 180

Kentucky 142

Florida 103

Vanderbilt 98

Georgia 69

South Carolina 38

WESTERN DIVISION

Arkansas (18) 168

Mississippi State (10) 148

Alabama (1) 111

Auburn (1) 94

LSU 63

Ole Miss 46

SEC CHAMPION

Tennessee (28)

Mississippi State (2)

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Chris Lofton, UT (27)

Jamont Gordon, MS (2)

Tyler Smith, UT (1)

ALL-SEC FIRST TEAM (*-Unanimous)

Richard Hendrix, UA

Patrick Beverley, AR

Jamont Gordon, MS

Chris Lofton, UT*

Shan Foster, VU

ALL-SEC SECOND TEAM

Steven Hill, AR

Tasmin Mitchell, LS

Dwayne Curtis, UM

Charles Rhodes, MS

Tyler Smith, UT



Sports Category : Basketball (M)