By Tim Letcher
SEC Digital Network
The Southeastern Conference basketball season tipped off on Friday night and continued through the weekend. Here’s a look back at the opening weekend, as well as a look ahead to this week’s action.
What We Saw
Defending national champion Kentucky opened the season by holding off Maryland, 72-69. The Wildcats, with an entirely new starting five, showed their youth in the second half, allowing Maryland to come back from a double-digit deficit before making enough plays down the stretch to win.
Missouri got a big effort from Laurence Bowers in its 83-69 win over SIU-Edwardsville on Saturday. Phil Pressey is still the Tigers' best player, but Bowers could be a big spark for Frank Haith's team this season.
Coty Clarke scored 20 points to lead Arkansas past Sam Houston State, 73-68 on Friday. Mike Anderson's team also got 14 points from Marshawn Powell.
Georgia's Nemanja Djurisic posted a double-double, with 14 points and 12 rebounds, as the Bulldogs got past Jacksonville, 68-62. After a rough first half, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope bounced back to score 17 points for Georgia.
The post-Jeffery Taylor-John Jenkins era at Vanderbilt started on Saturday with an 80-65 win over Nicholls State. Kevin Bright and Kyle Fuller each had 15 points for Vandy.
Tennessee shot a blistering 60.5 percent from the floor in beating Kennesaw State, 76-67. The Vols were 7-of-12 from three-point range (58.3 percent) in the game.
Alabama needed a three-pointer by Trevor Lacey at the buzzer to beat South Dakota State, 70-67. Trevor Releford led the Tide with 18 points.
The Crimson Tide had a much easier time on Sunday, beating West Alabama 80-49. Lacey had a career high 23 points, giving the Tide a 2-0 start.
LSU's Johnny O'Bryant left the Tigers' game with UC-Santa Barbara with a leg injury. LSU was able to win, despite the injury, 77-63, giving Johnny Jones his first win at LSU.
Frankie Sullivan scored 26 points as Auburn beat IPFW, 61-50. An 18-4 run helped Auburn erase a five-point deficit in the second half.
Florida's game with Georgetown was cancelled at halftime, due to condensation on the court, which was on the deck of the USS Bataan in Jacksonville. Will Yeguete paced the Gators with eight points before the game was called.
The Gators were able to complete Sunday’s game, pounding Alabama State 84-35 behind 22 points from Kenny Boynton. Patric Young had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Murphy Holloway had 15 points and 11 rebounds, his 26th-career double-double, as Ole Miss thumped Mississippi Valley State on Friday in Oxford. Ole Miss was able to force 23 turnovers in the game, leading to a 93-57 rout.
Elston Turner scored 15 points and Fabyon Harris had 14 as Texas A&M beat Louisiana Tech, 71-59. Kourtney Robinson, coming off of a broken ankle last season, scored 12 points for the Aggies.
Mississippi State rallied, but it wasn't enough as the Bulldogs fell at Troy, 56-53 on Friday. MSU trailed by 16 points before coming back to tie the game at 53 late in Rick Ray's debut as Bulldog head coach.
Frank Martin was a winner in his first game at South Carolina, but it wasn’t easy. The Gamecocks needed overtime to beat Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 82-75.
What We'll See
No. 3 Kentucky faces ninth-ranked Duke in the Champions Classic on Tuesday night at the Georgia Dome (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). The Wildcats may be without guards Ryan Harrow (flu) and Julius Mays (leg injury).
Tenth-ranked Florida will host No. 23 Wisconsin on Wednesday night in Gainesville in an early Top 25 matchup (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
Auburn gets a tough test, facing Isaiah Canaan and Murray State on Thursday (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3). The Racers, last season's Ohio Valley Conference champions, are a mid-major powerhouse that went 31-2 last season.
Alabama battles President Barack Obama's brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, and his Oregon State Beavers on Thursday (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
Vanderbilt makes the trek west to face Oregon on Friday (11:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network).
Marshall Henderson, a junior college transfer, scored a game-high 22 points as Ole Miss pounded Mississippi Valley State. Marshall was the National Junior College Player of the Year last year.
Vanderbilt's Kendren Johnson set new career highs with 25 points, six rebounds and six assists in the Commodores opening win over Nicholls State.
Kentucky's Jarrod Polson came off the bench to score 10 points, including two clutch free throws late, in the win over Maryland. Coming into this season, Polson had scored seven points in his career.
Charles Carmouche scored 16 points, hitting 6-of-10 from the floor, for LSU in the win over UC-Santa Barbara.
South Carolina freshman forward Michael Carrera notched a double-double in his first collegiate game. Carrera had 17 points and 15 rebounds in the Gamecocks’ win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee. On Monday, Carrera was named SEC Freshman of the Week.