Few spotlight games in yet another low-volume week for the SEC create another modest list of SEC stars. Don't worry, though: SEC play begins this coming weekend, and the spotlight on one of the more anticipated basketball seasons in recent league history will become very bright.
YANTE MATEN, GEORGIA
In two games against power-conference opponents (Georgia Tech and Temple), Maten produced a combined 54 points and 18 rebounds in convincing Bulldog victories. Maten is doing everything he can to take the heat off Mark Fox's seat in Athens and lead UGA to the NCAA Tournament. How much help he will get from his teammates will be the most defining aspect of Georgia's upcoming SEC season. Maten and the Dawgs go to Rupp Arena on Sunday for a New Year's Eve business trip which will be closely scrutinized.
KASSIUS ROBERTSON, MISSOURI
The Tigers have a big problem at point guard, where Cuonzo Martin doesn't have one clear-cut ballhandling maestro to lend cohesion, fluidity and efficiency to Mizzou's struggling offense. Robertson is the man holding this team together while it figures out how to evolve at the offensive end of the floor. He scored 45 points this past week in two contests, and his 23 points against Stephen F. Austin enabled the Tigers to dig out a narrow win before their loss against Illinois in St. Louis on Saturday. Robertson continues to take on more of the scoring load in the absence of Michael Porter, Jr. He has made this season so much more pleasant and bearable than it otherwise might have been in CoMo.
JORDAN BOWDEN, TENNESSEE
Without Bowden's 21 points, Tennessee might have lost against Furman in the middle of the week. Bowden then pumped in all five of his three-point attempts over the weekend in a big win at Wake Forest. No player for the Vols was more reliable over the past week. Rick Barnes' team bounced back very well from the almost-but-not-quite loss to North Carolina on Dec. 17. Bowden solidified his team's season and set an example of resilience for his teammates to follow.
DAVION MITCHELL AND MALIK DUNBAR, AUBURN
Auburn's bench brothers continue to produce for a team which has lost only one game this season despite missing two star-level players, Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy. Mitchell played 15 extremely efficient minutes in AU's blowout of Connecticut on Saturday. Auburn did not shoot well in that game despite winning in a romp. Mitchell, though, was an exception. He hit 4 of 6 field goals for a crisp 10-point outing with four assists against just one turnover. His stat line, if turned into a "per-40-minute" average, would have been over 26 points and 10 assists. That's approaching Trae Young territory.
Dunbar did not shoot well (4-13 from the field), but he did hit three triples during the 16-0 Auburn run which knocked UConn to the canvas. Multiple bench players step up in nearly every game for the Tigers. That's how they are carrying the workload in the absence of the players who were expected to make this an NCAA Tournament team. Can Auburn's bench brilliance continue into and through the SEC season if Wiley and Purifoy don't return? That's the question of the moment on the Plains (as far as basketball is concerned).
Honorable Mention: Xavian Stapleton, Mississippi State (4-7 on threes, 12 points, in a win over Southern Mississippi); Desean Murray, Auburn (18 points in a four-point Tiger win at Murray State)