Tennessee Volunteers guard Jordan McRae (52) goes up for a dunk during the first half against the Florida Gators at Thompson-Boling Arena. Photo by Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
By STEVE MEGARGEE / AP Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee guard Jordan McRae's transformation into one of the Southeastern Conference's premier performers is as remarkable as his team's late-season emergence as an NCAA tournament contender.
McRae opened the season on the bench and started only one of Tennessee's first 12 games. Now he's one of the hottest players in the country.
The 6-foot-5 junior is averaging 25.8 points over his last six games for Tennessee, which won eight of its last nine regular-season games to move into NCAA tournament consideration. Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin believes McRae should be the SEC player of the year.
The fifth-seeded Volunteers (19-11, 11-7 SEC) face either No. 12 seed South Carolina (14-17, 4-14) or No. 13 seed Mississippi State (9-21, 4-14) in their first SEC tournament game Thursday at Nashville, Tenn.