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LSU 68 – Alabama 56

Video highlights of the LSU 68-56 win over Alabama Thursday at the SEC Conference Tournament in Atlanta.





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SEC Headlines 3/13/2014

headlines-thuSEC Football

1. Is Florida the best coaching job in the SEC?  Athlon ranks all 128 college football jobs from a coaching perspective.

2. NCAA grants Florida wide receiver/returner Andre Debose a sixth year of eligibility.

3. Who will step up at wide receiver for LSU? 95-percent of receiver production for the Tigers is gone.

4. Will linebacker Kris Frost be a force in the middle for Auburn this fall?

5. South Carolina redshirt sophomore wide receiver Kwinton Smith no longer with the team.

6. Tennessee defensive tackle Danny O’Brien on his offseason arrest: ”I’m glad it happened. It taught me a life lesson that I’ll know forever.”

7. The Internal Revenue Service is auditing three bowls – one of them is the Gator.

SEC Media

8. Expect to see a lot of Brent Musburger and Jesse Palmer when the SEC Network launches in August.

SEC/NFL

9. Several NFL coaches on hand for Alabama’s pro day on Wednesday.

10. Does AJ McCarron think he’s the best quarterback in this draft?  ”Yeah, why not?”

SEC Basketball

11. Texas A&M vs Missouri.  What’s the status of Aggies leading scorer Jamal Jones?  “If he can walk and chew gum, we will play him because we need him.”

12. Does Missouri need to win the SEC Tournament to reach the Big Dance?

13. South Carolina vs Arkansas.  Arkansas guard Mardracus Wade: ”I want to finish out with a bang.”

14. Alabama vs. LSU.  Tigers guard Andre Stringer: “I want that sense of urgency to come now.”

15 .Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss.  Rebels need big contributions from Anthony Perez if they’re to have any chance of repeating as tournament champs.

16. Could the SEC Tournament do more harm than good for Kentucky?

17. When Florida plays Friday, it will be the first time all season the Gators have played in a domed stadium.

18. Since 1979, Tennessee has gone one-and-done in the SEC Tournament 15 times.

19. Cutting former Auburn coach Tony Barbee no slack: “It wasn’t working. So it was time for him to go.”

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Can Anyone Upset Florida In The SEC Tourney? Sure… But Will They?

crystal-ball2The SEC Tournament gets underway tonight in Atlanta.  If history is any indicator of who’ll win, put your money on Kentucky’s second-seeded Wildcats.  UK has snagged 15 of the 35 championship trophies since the tourney was resurrected in 1979.  Alabama has won five in that period which is good for second-best in the league.

Over the last 10 years, Kentucky (2004, 2010 and 2011) and Florida (2005, 2006 and 2007) have each won the SEC Tournament three times.  Georgia (through a tornado in 2008), Mississippi State (2009), Vanderbilt (2012) and Ole Miss (last year) have also cut down the nets.

But who’ll win the tourney this week?  Below is our game-by-game preview, sure to be completely, 100% incorrect…

 

Game One

12 Auburn vs 13 South Carolina:  The Tigers won by 16 over the Gamecocks at Auburn just a couple of weeks ago.  Both teams have won two of their last six games.  In what may well be the tournament’s least-interesting contest, we’ll take Auburn.

 

Game Two

11 Vanderbilt vs 14 Mississippi State:  MSU was the worst team in the league this year with a 3-15 conference mark.  While Vandy’s bench isn’t very long, Kevin Stallings has somehow managed to coax seven league wins out of his outmanned squad.  VU beat State by six in early-February in Nashville.  We’ll take Vanderbilt again.

 

Game Three

8 Missouri vs 9 Texas A&M:  Two old Big XII rivals square off for the right to face #1 seed Florida.  Missouri, as we noted earlier this week, still has an outside shot at an NCAA at-large bid.  But the Tigers have lost three of their last five and held off A&M by a lone point at home one week ago today.  The Aggies have lost three of their last four.  We’ll take Missouri to reach the quarterfinals.

 

Game Four

12 Auburn vs 5 Arkansas:  The Razorbacks, coming off a bye, will be fighting for their NCAA lives.  They whipped Auburn 86-67 in their regular-season matchup.  Take Arkansas into the quarterfinals as we see not reason to suspect a major Tiger upset.

 

Game Five

10 Alabama vs 7 LSU:  The Crimson Tide knocked off LSU by two points in Tuscaloosa back in late-January.  Both teams are up-and-down.  Bama’s last six games looked like this: L-W-L-W-L-W.  LSU’s last seven games looked like this: L-W-L-W-L-W-L.  This one’s a toss-up in our minds, but we’ll back Johnny O’Bryant and the Tigers.  Take LSU.

 

Game Six

11 Vanderbilt vs 6 Ole Miss:  The Rebels like to speed things up.  The Commodores are more deliberate.  In tourney play, the advantage often goes to the team that can force their foe out of their natural rhythm and tempo.  Vandy’s lack of depth could hurt it over a four- or five-day run, but we think they’ll have enough juice on Day Two of the tourney to pull the upset.  We’ll take Vanderbilt in a surprise, despite the fact that Ole Miss beat the Dores twice during the regular season.  For the record, UM has lost six of its last eight games and VU has lost seven of its last nine.  Neither team comes in hot.

 

Game Seven

8 Missouri vs 1 Florida:  Crazy things happen in tournament play, but Florida is just so darned experienced and tough on the defensive end that it’ll be very hard to pick against them.  Mizzou has lost five in a row away from home, including a 10-point loss at Gainesville in early-February.  Take Florida into the semifinals, leaving Missouri squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

 

Game Eight

5 Arkansas vs 4 Tennessee:  This one might be an NCAA Tournament play-in game.  UA won six of its last seven games.  UT has won four in a row including its last three by 27 points or more (against Vandy, Auburn and Missouri).  The host Volunteers knocked off Arkansas by seven back in January.  Once again, this matchup features one team that plays at a break-neck pace and one that’s slow and deliberate.  We’ll tab Tennessee to reach the league semis behind Jarnell Stokes’ big body.

 

Game Nine

7 LSU vs 2 Kentucky:  Now is the time for the Wildcats to make amends for a disappointing regular season, right?  Wrong.  LSU is clearly a bad matchup for John Calipari’s Cats.  The Tigers beat UK in Baton Rouge and then lost by one point in overtime in Lexington last month.  The Tigers had four players in double-figures in each game.  O’Bryant scored 29 and 20 versus Kentucky.  Unless the Wildcats have found a way to negate LSU’s big man, we’ll take LSU in an upset on the neutral court.  (OK, it’ll seem like Rupp South in “Catlanta,” but we’ll still take the Tigers.)

 

Game Ten

11 Vanderbilt vs 3 Georgia:  What an incredible job by Mark Fox inside the conference this season.  After a 6-6 start out of conference, the Bulldogs went 12-6 in league play, landed the #3 seed in the SEC tourney, and will enjoy a double-bye.  If our picks hold, Vandy’s thin roster will be playing its third game in as many days by this point.  UGA has won four of its last five.  VU handed Georgia one of only two home losses all season, but we’ll take the team that plays superior defense.  That means we’ll take Georgia to reach the semifinals.

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SEC Headlines 3/11/2014

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. SEC officiating coordinator Steve Shaw said rule changes need to be about what’s best for the game in the long run.

2. Former Alabama lineman Kellen Williams called the Paul Finebaum Show to defend Nick Saban.

3. Here’s a look at what Alabama has to work with in its secondary this spring.

4. Auburn will have to replace defensive end Dee Ford this season. Here’s a look at how the Tigers will do it.

5. LSU’s quarterback battle continues as the Tigers look for Zach Mettenberger’s replacement.

6. Ole Miss players Denzel and Robert Nkemdiche, who are brothers, have filed counter suits against their accuser in an alleged assault.

7. Tennessee sophomore quarterback Josh Dobbs discussed his work on and off the field with Bruce Feldman.

8. The Vols will need defensive end Corey Vereen to step up this year.

9. Vanderbilt has a few players changing positions as the Commodores transition into a base 3-4 defense.

10. Dave Matter addresses several questions regarding Missouri as it prepares for spring practice.

11. What’s life at Texas A&M going to be like now that Johnny Manziel is gone? George Schroeder takes a look.

SEC/NFL

12. Tre Mason showed his toughness playing running back for Auburn. He hopes that impresses NFL teams.

13. Tape of the 2013 Alabama-Texas A&M game will show plenty of NFL prospects.

SEC Basketball

14. So you’re saying there’s a chance? SEC teams with double-digits losses in conference play have won the tournament before.

15. Auburn is a double-digit loss team in the SEC that is preparing for the tournament while coach Tony Barbee is on the hot seat.

16. Billy Donovan wants an extra day off for teams playing conference title games on Sunday.

17. Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin will likely be named the SEC player of the year.

18. Florida’s seniors are motivated heading into the SEC tournament. The Gators could be the first 21-0 SEC team.

19. LSU forward Johnny O’Bryant hasn’t announced his future plans but says he feels “ready” for the NBA.

20. SEC coaches raved about the job done by Georgia coach Mark Fox.

21. Georgia will need to win the SEC tournament to reach the NCAA tournament. An NIT invitation looks like a sure thing.

22. Kentucky keeps talking about trying to get its “mojo” back. It better hurry.

23. South Carolina senior guard on coach Frank Martin’s behavior around players: “We don’t take it personally at all.”

24. Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin said guard Josh Richardson is defending on an “elite” level.

25. Forward Tony Criswell won’t be with Missouri in the SEC tournament.

Extra

26. A back injury will keep Kansas’ star freshman center Joel Embiid out of the Big 12 tournament. His NCAA tournament status is in question.

27. Here’s a look at conference tournament schedules around the country.

28. Which college basketball teams are the most overrated? Brad Evans takes a look.

29. Athlon Sports has a list of the best SEC quarterbacks of the BCS era.

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SEC Hoops Roundup 3/8/2014

gfx-hoops-round-up2Kentucky at Florida

1. As the Gators go for perfection in conference play, this Florida senior class has racked up some amazing numbers.  Another major milestone awaits.

2. Kentucky coach John Calipari on the challenge facing his team: ”It’s not going to be easy. There is nothing that’s going to be easy about it.”

Vanderbilt at Ole Miss

3. Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings can’t understand  why some of his players are hesitant to shoot the ball.  ”There is a reluctance and you’re not sure why it exists.”

4. The “Marshall Henderson Show” is almost over.  Last home game for the Ole Miss senior guard.

Auburn at Texas A&M

5. At one point the SEC’s leading scorer, Auburn guard Chris Denson has scored just nine points in his last two games.

6. Status of senior guard Fabyon Harris uncertain today.  Coach Billy Kennedy: ”He’s limited in what he can do, so we are still unsure what he will be able to do.”

Missouri at Tennessee

7. Sitting on the bubble, a victory at Tennessee would be huge for Missouri’s NCAA Tournament chances.  Coach Frank Haith: “They’re an NCAA Tournament team, so if you beat them twice it definitely helps you.”

8. Tennessee is playing some its best basketball of the year.  But is this a “play-out” game for both these teams?

South Carolina at Mississippi State

9. Suspended South Carolina coach Frank Martin apologized Friday afternoon. “I understand that I represent this university and I have a duty to conduct myself in a certain way.”

10. Mississippi State senior Colin Borchert on what he’s learned from coach Rick Ray: “The biggest thing I’m going to take from is how you can succeed when you come from nothing.”

Arkansas at Alabama

11. Streaking Arkansas trying to win its fourth straight SEC road game.  Best Razorbacks road team in 20 years?

12. Last home game for Alabama guard Trevor Releford.  Coach Anthony Grant: ”He’s 6-foot on the outside but he’s like 6-8 on the inside.”

Georgia at LSU

13. A win for Georgia locks down third place in the SEC and a double-bye in the conference tournament.

14. LSU senior guard Andre Stringer is “the final vestige of the Tigers’ failed resurrection plan four years ago under former coach Trent Johnson.”

Extra

15. The Antlers at Missouri and other student groups get attention from ESPN’s Outside The Lines this weekend.

 

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SEC Headlines 3/7/2014

headlines-friSEC Football

1. Debate over number of conference games almost over.  Commissioner Mike Slive says decision for 2016 and beyond will come by the SEC spring meetings in May.

2. If a targeting penalty is overturned this fall, player will remain in game AND 15-yard penalty will no longer apply.

3. Nick Saban may deny it but Steve Spurrier still believes the 10-second delay rule originated with the Alabama coach: “He’s the guy that went out there and got them to put it on the table for discussion.”

4. Chris Low:  ”Saban will remain the lightning rod in this debate…”

5. Saban likes his group of early enrollees.“I’ve been really impressed with the eight freshmen that we have here.”

6. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin wouldn’t elaborate on Thursday’s dismissal of defensive back  Kameron Miles. ”There was a release today. That’s about it.”

7. There’s a change in style of quarterback at LSU: “the era of the statuesque purple and gold pocket passer looks like it has gone the way of single bar facemasks.”

8. Big focus for Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason - his footwork.

9. How is new Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt changing things?  Let us count the ways.

10. Kentucky makes it official - Craig Naivar is the new special teams coordinator and safeties coach

11. A low-key start as South Carolina begins spring practice.

12. He’s Deterrian – Not D.T. – Shackelford and he’ll begin his sixth season at Ole Miss this fall.

13. Three things to watch in spring practice at Tennessee.  Is this a 5-to-7 win team?

14. Coach Butch Jones: “They’re eager. They’re willing. They have no bad habits right now. They hang on everything you say.”

15. Six trends to watch in spring practice at Missouri.  Who will be the leaders of this Tigers team?

Stadiums and Alcohol

16. Ron Higgins on beer and ball games: “SEC athletic directors need to walk a straight line slowly and carefully when discussing selling at beer in stadiums.”

17. Kevin Scarbinsky: “I’m not sure the most passionate state in the nation needs any more of a buzz when it comes to college football.”

SEC/NFL

18. Johnny Manziel signs a multi-year deal with Nike - reportedly highest price paid for a rookie in this year’s class.

19. Clearing up some misinformation about the health of Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.

SEC Basketball

20. Florida is a win away from SEC history – a perfect 18-0 conference.  Kentucky is the only thing standing in its way.

21. LSU was 17-0 in SEC play in 1981 when it lost to Kentucky at Rupp Arena.

22. Auburn A.D. Jay Jacobs demanded “significant improvement.” Has Tony Barbee delivered?

23. During the current Arkansas hot streak, reserve guard  Anthlon Bell has caught fire.

24. Like a lot of SEC teams, Missouri tends to win at home and lose on the road.  ”This team hasn’t given us any reason to expect any more or less.”

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SEC Hoops Roundup: Frank Martin Suspended

South Carolina coach Frank Martin won’t be on the bench when the Gamecocks play Mississippi State Saturday. A.D. Ray Tanner suspended him following a verbal altercation with a player during Tuesday’s loss to Florida.

Cameras caught Martin screaming at freshman point guard Duane Notice during a timeout.

Associate head coach Matt Figger will be in charge Saturday at Mississippi State. Martin won’t travel with the team.

LSU 57 – Vanderbilt 51

1. Trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half,  LSU rallies to break seven-game road losing streak.

2. Vanderbilt has no answer for LSU forward Johnny O’Bryant who scores 25 points and grabs 10 rebounds.

Saturday SEC Hoops Schedule

Kentucky at Florida

Vanderbilt at Ole Miss

Auburn at Texas A&M

Missouri at Tennessee

South Carolina at Mississippi State

Arkansas at Alabama

Georgia at LSU

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Defensive End Jennings Chooses Alabama

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxDefensive end Anfernee Jennings from Dadeville (Ala.) High School committed to Alabama on Thursday.

Jennings received a scholarship offer from the Crimson Tide during a visit to Tuscaloosa last weekend. He only needed a few days to pull the trigger on his commitment.

“I just felt like it was time,” Jennings told AL.com. “(Alabama) is the place that suits me and where I fit in the best. Not only will they help me become a greater football player, but become the man I would love to be later on in life.

“I kept praying about it and will continue to.”

Jennings, whose offer list includes Arkansas, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Arizona State and Louisville, will continue to consider other schools. He said he plans to take all five official visits this fall, according to AL.com.

Alabama will continue to recruit Jennings to keep him from going elsewhere. He was a key target for the Crimson Tide after coaches were able to evaluate him in person, according to Andrew Bone of TideSports.com. He wrote in part:

“(Jennings) has the ability to do a lot of different things. He can play defensive end or linebacker. He has been coached well throughout his high school career.  He knows and understands the game.  He knows how to shoot his hands and fight off blocks.  He is an aggressive defender coming off the ball.”

Jennings is the eighth prospect to commit to Alabama’s 2015 class, which is ranked No. 2 in the nation behind Texas A&M in the Rivals Team Rankings.

 

Dean chooses Arkansas

Defensive end Daytrieon Dean committed to Arkansas last weekend.

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SEC Headlines 3/4/2014

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel reportedly has a new deal that will push his pay to or above $3 million.

2. Ole Miss begins spring practice today. Rebels need to find out who will backup quarterback Bo Wallace.

3. Texas A&M practices in full pads for two hours and 15 minutes.  Coach Kevin Sumlin: “All-in-all, I liked the energy.”

4. Gus Malzhahn doesn’t sound too worried about an upcoming vote that could impact tempo:  ”We’re going to put the ball down, we’re going to play fast and we’re going to flat get after it. You all OK if we play fast?”

5. “History hasn’t been terribly kind to the coaches that lost the national championship game in the BCS era.”

6. “The Saban Rule is not about protecting players. That is never the primary motive of the NCAA, no matter how its leaders spin it.”

7. Winning is contagious.  South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier: “I think it’s somewhat contagious when one sport does well, then another one does well, and it just keeps going through.” Connor Shaw will be honored at halftime of tonight’s South Carolina basketball game.

8. Here are six players crucial to Missouri’s defense this fall.

9. Here are five Alabama players who need to step up their game in 2014.

10. The blame Lane Kiffin era begins at Alabama?

11. It’s good to be a public official in Alabama – free tickets to football games.

12. Position battles this spring at LSU.

13. Did you know? LSU got its purple and gold colors from Mardi Gras.  (Will Rust Cohle start an investigation?)

SEC Basketball

14. South Carolina gets a $25,000 fine from the SEC after fans stormed the court after the win against Kentucky Saturday.

15 .Clearing up misconception about the one-and-done rule.  College basketball is at the mercy of the NBA.

16. Texas A&M guard Fabyon Harris checks out of a hospital two days after fainting in a pregame shootaround. Guard Shawn Smith still dealing with “personal issues.”

17. Ole Miss guard Jarvis Summers recognized as the best men’s college basketball player in the state of Mississippi.

18. Red-hot Razorbacks have won seven of their last eight games. Mike Anderson: “We’re playing some of our better basketball at the right time…”

19. Alabama at Kentucky.  Kentucky has lost two in a row for the first time this season but Alabama hasn’t won on the road since last year. Rare events at Kentucky these days - honoring four-year players at Senior Night.

20. Florida at South Carolina.  Gators developing potential nine-man rotation heading down the stretch. Florida two wins away from perfect SEC regular season.

21. Pat Dooley: . “I see so much me-first basketball in this league.”

22. Three of the 12 teams mentioned as bubble teams here are from the SEC.

Extras

23. Something big coming at Arkansas?

24. Ready for a possible 43-yard extra-point attempt from the NFL?

25. Peyton Manning passes $34 million neck exam.

26. Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez has a little fun with the proposed 10-second rule in college football.

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Top Five Wide Receiver Signees For 2014

RECAPExpect more passing in the SEC’s future.

Wide receivers like A.J. Green and Julio Jones and more recently Mike Evans and Jordan Matthews have made the SEC an attractive place for big-play athletes in the passing game.

The SEC will have plenty of talent at the wide receiver position arriving this fall. It should make for a fun year watching the newcomers play a key role immediately.

Here are the top five wide receiver signees in the SEC in the 2014 class.

1. Malachi Dupre – LSU

LSU gladly waited out the recruitment of Dupre, who was a must-get for the Tigers on signing day. Dupre (6-3, 188) has the ideal size to be a big play threat. With Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry off to the NFL, Dupre will have a chance to play immediately in LSU’s offense. He’ll team up with running back signee Leonard Fournette to create

2. Josh Malone – Tennessee

Like Dupre, Malone (6-3, 202) has terrific size coming out of high school. Malone enrolled early at Tennessee, which should prepare him to help the Vols immediately. Malone will team up nicely with Marquez North, who shined at receiver as a freshman for Tennessee last fall.

3. D’haquille Williams – Auburn

It’s scary to think what Auburn’s offense will be able to do now that it has a dynamic player on the outside. Williams (6-3, 210) arrived on campus last month with the goal of becoming the Tigers’ go-to option at receiver. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn promised a more balanced offense in 2014. Williams is the reason.

4. Speedy Noil – Texas A&M

Another elite athlete in coach Kevin Sumlin’s offense? The rest of the SEC can’t be too excited to see Noil (5-11, 190) choose Texas A&M, which will work quickly to find ways to get him the ball. Sumlin described Noil as “extremely explosive” on signing day. That sounds like a good fit with the Aggies, who already have Noil on campus.

5. Von Pearson – Tennessee

Pearson is another big athlete who has already enrolled for the spring semester. Pearson (6-3, 181) was ranked the nation’s No. 2 junior college receiver (behind Williams) by Rivals. Pearson has the athleticism to make big plays and the size to be an every-down target in Tennessee’s offense. The Vols’ passing game got a lot better on signing day.

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