It doesn’t matter what conference you play in, it takes two players to make things go right in college basketball.
Sure, one star is good, but two stars is great. And when the two stars can play off each other correctly, it usually leads to a trip to the NCAA Tournament. There are plenty of strong duos this year in the SEC, a conference that is playing better than most expected this season.
We take a look at the five best duos in the SEC so far this season.
- Damian Jones and Riley LaChance, Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt is struggling this season with an 11-9 record and just 1-6 in the SEC. However, the Commodores have found their future in Riley LaChance, a freshman who can shoot from about anywhere in the gym. He’s combining with Damian Jones, who is a true NBA prospect projected to be the no. 16 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Using that theory, these two will have another year together with a chance to push Vanderbilt to the NCAA Tournament next season. As an inside-outside duo, the two are combining for 62.3 minutes per game and 27.6 points per game. LaChance and Jones are the only two players averaging double digits for Vanderbilt.
- Danuel House and Jalen Jones, Texas A&M
Could Texas A&M actually make the NCAA Tournament? There’s an outside chance the Aggies do, sitting with a 14-5 record without a bad loss. This is thanks to two transfers in Danuel House and Jalen Jones. Both transfers are playing nearly identical and have similar stats so far this season. House is scoring 14.3 points per game and four rebounds while Jones is scoring 14.1 points per game and six rebounds. House, a Houston transfer, became eligible once the season started and immediately fit in with Jones, who transferred from SMU
- Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker, Kentucky
There really isn’t a great duo for the undefeated Wildcats, but freshmen Booker and Ulis have a connection on the court that’s better than any other two wearing the blue and white. It shouldn’t be a surprise, though, as they were quietly a packaged deal when deciding where they wanted to go to college. It started back in eighth grade at the Elite 100 camp when the two were paired on the same team and started a friendship. The two roommates often find each other on the court, mostly when Ulis is penetrating the lane and Booker dives to the open area on the court. Ulis is averaging 3.7 assists per game while Booker is scoring 10.8 points per game.
- Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls, Arkansas
Bobby Portis is a more familiar name. After all, he was a McDonald’s All-American, projected NBA Draft pick and often thought of when it comes to Arkansas basketball. However, Michael Qualls has transformed himself into a great Robin to Portis’ Batman. The two are averaging 17.5 points per game for Portis and 16.5 points for Qualls. They feed off each other pretty well with Qualls outside shooting improving, allowing Portis to control the paint more often. When he’s not drawing double teams, Qualls is often found making highlight reel dunks and helping Portis on the glass.
- Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey, LSU
The two frontcourt teammates are on their second year of playing together and have become the best duo in the SEC. Both came into the season with high expectations, being named to Athlon’s All-Sophomore Team. They have garnered attention from others, too, most recently Georgia forward Nemanja Djurisic who called them one of the greatest duos in the country. Both are playing nearly 35 minutes per game with Mickey averaging a double-double. Martin is less than a rebound away from averaging a double-double. They have a chance to put LSU squarely on the map when the Tigers host Kentucky in a couple weeks as they go against the best frontcourt in the country.