SEC Basketball Roundup: Florida Outlasts Richmond, Mizzou Ready for Conference Play, LSU Falls to Rhode Island

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

As the focus from football turns to basketball, conference play is about to begin in the Southeastern Conference. But not before a few interesting games finished up this past weekend. This is the SEC Basketball Roundup.

Gators Survive

The Florida Gators had one more hurdle to hop over before they began their 2013-14 conference schedule. What they would find out is that they got a lot more than they bargained for. The Gators welcomed the Richmond Spiders, a dangerous, defensively stout club from the Atlantic 10 Conference to the O'Connell Center on Saturday afternoon, and the Spiders hung around with the Gators for nearly the entire game. Thanks to 19 points from Cedrick Lindsay, who made five 3-pointers, the Spiders gave the Gators a scare.

While Florida wound up winning the game by the tune of 67-58, the Spiders showed no fear inside the O'Connell Center. Leading at one point 46-42, Chris Mooney's club showed a lot to be impressed with. But, Billy Donovan's club never wavered, either, as they eventually powered ahead when all was done and dusted. Sophomore Michael Frazier II scored 18 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 7:50 remaining in the game. With much resolve, the Gators got a complete team effort in the final moments to prevent a stunning non-conference loss from occurring.

Florida now turns their to South Carolina, whom the Gators will host Wednesday.

Mizzou Rolling Along

Things were not too easy for the Missouri Tigers either on Saturday, but just as they have done for nearly the entire season, Frank Haith's club found a way to get the victory. Although they struggled with the now 4-10 Long Beach St. 49ers, the Tigers scratched and clawed their way to a 69-59 victory at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo. It was the 12th victory of the season for Missouri, whose only blemish this season has been a one-point loss on a neutral floor to the Illinois Fighting Illini.

With that said, a 12-1 start to the season is better than any Tigers' fan could have probably hoped for at the beginning of the season. Despite cries from the fanbase about the coaching ability of Frank Haith, and whether or not there was going to be enough talent to get t the NCAA Tournament, all that Mizzou keeps on doing is winning.

That's not to say that those concerns and criticisms are immediately diminished, because the last time that Missouri was very successful in the regular season they suffered an unceremonious and epic defeat in the NCAA Tournament. As they head out of conference play, aside from a few missteps on their end, and the games against Illinois and North Carolina St., they were rarely tested. Their non-conference SOS, as discussed in the first of these roundups, was not very strong.

But, if Missouri just keeps on etching more tallies in the win column, none of that will really matter. And, after all, it's what you do in March that counts the most.

LSU Falls to Rhode Island

Perhaps the most surprising result around the Southeastern Conference slate of hoops this past week was the Louisiana State Tigers' defeat at the hands of the Rhode Island Rams. Dan Hurley's club took to Baton Rouge, La. and stunned LSU 74-70. It was LSU's 3rd loss of the season and was a surprising speed bump in a non-conference slate that was not necessarily supposed to end this way.

One of the reasons that this defeat occurred was the Tigers' lack of 3-point defense. They let the Rams convert on 43.8 percent of their attempts from deep, sinking seven attempts in total. The Tigers were also out-rebounded by the Rams 46-32, and that margin included 30 defensive rebounds by Rhode Island. Needless to say, the Tigers were dominated on the glass and were dominated from the perimeter. Not quite the formula for success.

The good news for LSU is that they can put that defeat behind them now as conference play begins for them this week. They will host the Tennessee Volunteers in Baton Rouge, La. on Tuesday, Jan. 7.

The Week Ahead

Non-Ranked Team to Watch: Arkansas

Mike Anderson's bunch has been flying under the SEC radar this season. The fact is, they stand at 11-2 with victories over solid teams in SMU, Minnesota and Clemson. They will go toe-to-toe with Texas A&M in College Station on Wednesday, and then on Saturday, they will host the highly touted Florida Gators.

Game of the Week: Florida vs. Arkansas

The aforementioned contest between the Gators and Razorbacks steals all of the attention in the Southeastern Conference this week. Florida's Casey Prather and Arkansas' Alandise Harris will be the impact players in this contest. Prather has been one of the most efficient shooters in the nation, maintaining a 64.5 TS% and a 61.4 eFG%. Harris meanwhile makes up for his slight inefficiencies with solid defensive play. His 7.0 Block% leads all Razorbacks.

The Slate:

January 7th

7:00 PM ET - Tennessee vs. LSU

9:00 PM ET - Vanderbilt at Alabama

January 8th

7:00 PM ET - South Carolina at Florida

8:00 PM ET - Mississippi St. vs. Kentucky

8:00 PM ET - Georgia vs. Missouri

9:00 PM ET - Arkansas vs. Texas A&M

January 9th

7:00 PM ET - Auburn vs. Ole Miss

January 11th

1:00 PM ET - Florida vs. Arkansas

1:30 PM ET - LSU vs. South Carolina

2:00 PM ET - Missouri vs. Auburn

3:30 PM ET - Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt

4:00 PM ET - Alabama vs. Georgia

4:00 PM ET - Ole Miss vs. Mississippi St.

6:00 PM ET - Texas A&M vs. Tennessee

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