Q&A with ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes

Published: Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 5:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 5:52 p.m.
Q&A with ESPN's SEC basketball analyst Jimmy Dykes.

Anything surprise you about the league early this season?
No, not really. I thought Georgia would take some time to get into form because of Trey Thompkins and obviously they've done that now. Kentucky, we knew was going to be talented enough to win some really good games and young enough to really struggle at times. Tennessee is probably the toughest team to figure out because they still have three of the best wins out there certainly in this league in Pittsburgh, Villanova and Memphis. And then they lose at Arkansas, they struggled here in four out of six games. The whole Bruce Pearl dynamic, how it's going to play out, that's going to be an ongoing story for us all year long. Other than that, I think we all felt like the East was going to be a strong division. It looks like it's going to play out that way. And now we are waiting to see if there is a team in the West or teams in the West that can win enough quality games in the next two months to get an NCAA Tournament bid.

Any early impressions of Florida?
They have everybody back from last year, but that's a team that finished fourth in the SEC East. Just because you are a year older does that make you better? Not necessarily. I think they are playing their best basketball the last couple of weeks. Their guard play continues to be something that Billy Donovan doesn't always know what he's going to get from one night to the next. I think they have one of the best frontlines in the league. They are an older team. They should know what it takes to win on the road. And if you are going to be a divisional champion in the SEC you have to find a way to win some high quality games on the road.

What's the best team you've seen in the league to this point?
I would say Kentucky, but right behind them — and there's not much separation — is Georgia and Vanderbilt. I think Georgia and Vanderbilt are really good. Although Vanderbilt lost last week at South Carolina, they have the look of the team that's good and they know how to play and they have size and they have experience. Georgia, to me, probably knows who they are better than anyone in this league ... and they have the best player in the league in Trey Thompkins.

One of your colleagues (Jay Bilas) was very critical with how the SEC handled Bruce Pearl's situation. How do you view the suspension and do you think it's justified?
I think at the end of the day it's going to boil down to this, how does the NCAA respond to Bruce Pearl lying to them? Because the allegations that we know of right now are secondary violations, which are not good, but they are secondary violations. Lying about what they did was worse than what actually happened.

Any newcomers in the league stand out that you've watched?
Well Brandon Knight I think has been the best freshman overall when you look at points per game. He leads the league in minutes played, which tells you his value to Kentucky. They wouldn't be ranked as high as they are without him. (Kentucky freshman forward) Terrence Jones is in the top 10 in both scoring and rebounding. He's been terrific. Not very consistent but he's been terrific at times. The kid at Tennessee, Tobias Harris, has probably been as good as either one of those guys. Maybe the newcomer of the league is the kid at Georgia, Gerald Robinson. Georgia would not be where they are without him. He's given them something they didn't have last year at guard, that has speed, doesn't turn it over. He may be the most impactful, where a couple of other of these guys are maybe the best players.

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