It was a very light week for SEC basketball before finals weeks at member schools. There was just one game on Monday, two on Tuesday, four on Wednesday and Thursday, none on Friday, five on Saturday and Sunday. That's a total of 21 games over the past seven days, and roughly half were cupcakes. Within this relatively small collection of work, a few players stood out. All selections will come from non-cupcake games.
TYSON CARTER, MISSISSIPPI STATE
The guard not only scored 20 points, but he carried the load for Mississippi State Sunday against Dayton. He excelled on a night when none of his teammates scored more than 11 points. Dayton and Mississippi State played a very ugly game, combining for 50 turnovers in a scratchy contest which is often played at this time of year. Final exams are coming. Players are just trying to settle into a groove but must focus on academics with Christmas being a part of one's personal and family life. Weird things happen in December college basketball, so a 50-turnover game is but one representation of such chaos. Carter stood tall amid that chaos for his team. It's not so much a valuable win -- Dayton is struggling this season without former coach Archie Miller -- but it's an important avoidance of a damaging loss. We'll see how large Carter's performance becomes in the course of time.
LAMONTE TURNER, TENNESSEE
If Carter's work on Sunday night was big, Turner's was slightly bigger. Why? Whereas Mississippi State was at home, Tennessee was on the road -- and not against a smaller conference team, but against ACC member Georgia Tech. Carter led a team in which no one else scored more than 11. Turner did the same thing -- no other Vol scored more than 11 points -- but he popped in 24 points to Carter's 20. He also committed zero turnovers to Carter's five. Turner was very efficient, getting his 24 points on 12 field goal attempts, hitting six, while making all nine free throws. This was a work of art for a Tennessee team which is steadily building an NCAA Tournament-level resume. Turner became the central figure in this push on Sunday in Atlanta.
HAMIDOU DIALLO, KENTUCKY
The 19 points were valuable in Saturday's win over Harvard, but the more important and specific reason Diallo gets this recognition is that when Kentucky went on a 17-2 run to put the game away midway through the second half, Diallo was the main catalyst. Teammate Kevin Knox scored more points (20), but Diallo fueled the key run, when Kentucky attacked the basket instead of settling for three-point shots. Diallo's discipline and focus have to be very welcome signs for head coach John Calipari.
YANTE MATEN, GEORGIA
13 points and 7 rebounds? That's an SEC star of the week stat line?
This is a defensive award more than an offensive award. Georgia won at Marquette because the Bulldogs allowed just 37 points to all Golden Eagle players other than Markus Howard (29 points). UGA conceded just 11 made field goals to all non-Howard players in 40 attempts, under 29 percent from the field. Most of all, Maten was part of a Georgia defense which allowed a grand total of only eight points to Marquette's frontcourt. The Golden Eagles simply had no paint presence in this game with Maten owning that part of the court. Maten shut out Marquette starting center Matt Heldt, who went 0 for 6 from the field and scored zero points in 32 minutes. Maten dominated on defense, giving Georgia a winning edge in Milwaukee.
DAZON INGRAM, ALABAMA
Collin Sexton continued to do well this week, but Ingram gave Alabama needed help in a close-shave win over Louisiana Tech on Wednesday. Sexton is expected to flourish -- his work is not to be taken for granted, but it's more notable when one of his teammates steps up so that he doesn't have to do everything by himself. Ingram scored 22 points and -- alongside Sexton -- got to the foul line late in regulation and made his free throws. The more Alabama can get from Ingram or anyone else on the supporting cast, the more Sexton can be a facilitator without having to carry the offensive workload any more than necessary.
KASSIUS ROBERTSON, MISSOURI
The Tigers, without Michael Porter, continue to remain resilient and full of resolve. They solved a road-court problem at UCF on Thursday, a win made more impressive by the fact that UCF then went on the road on Sunday and defeated Alabama. Robertson's 19 points gave Missouri a timely lift against UCF, showing that Cuonzo Martin has more resources to call upon in the absence of his superstar freshman, Mr. Porter.