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UT’s Martin Says Bright Spot Of Vandy Game Was Leaving

A day after seeing his Tennessee team pounded 65-47 at Vanderbilt, Cuonzo Martin spoke to a Knoxville booster club on Wednesday.  Asked for a bright spot from the previous night’s whooping, Martin delivered:


“When the bus starting rolling out of there.  That was the bright spot.”


For now, Martin is trying to build a program out of the spare parts left behind by a coach who brought the NCAA down on his own head.  But Martin’s not complaining.

“One day,” he said, “this team will be the last team standing.  I really feel that.  I don’t say that jokingly, I don’t say it, like, ‘Oh, man, give him another year on his contract.’  I say it because I truly believe it.”

Of course, a lot of coaches truly believe that when they take over a new job.

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UT’s Martin Says Bright Spot Of Vandy Game Was Leaving

A day after seeing his Tennessee team pounded 65-47 at Vanderbilt, Cuonzo Martin spoke to a Knoxville booster club on Wednesday.  Asked for a bright spot from the previous night’s whooping, Martin delivered:


“When the bus starting rolling out of there.  That was the bright spot.”


For now, Martin is trying to build a program out of the spare parts left behind by a coach who brought the NCAA down on his own head.  But Martin’s not complaining.

“One day,” he said, “this team will be the last team standing.  I really feel that.  I don’t say that jokingly, I don’t say it, like, ‘Oh, man, give him another year on his contract.’  I say it because I truly believe it.”

Of course, a lot of coaches truly believe that when they take over a new job.

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SEC Headlines – 1/25/12

1.  Florida center Patric Young will probably be in the starting line-up against Ole Miss tomorrow.

2.  Georgia’s Mark Fox says Kentucky can simply “overpower you” on the defensive end.

3.  His players seemed to enjoy just being in a big-time matchup with America’s #1 team.

4.  The Wildcats continue to play unselfish basketball.

5.  South Carolina will try to record its first SEC win of the season when it hosts Alabama tonight.

6.  The Gamecock football team will have to develop a downfield passing attack next season.

7.  Tennessee is experiencing some serious ups and downs as it rebuilds under Cuonzo Martin.

8.  Vanderbilt gave UT its “most physical” game of the season and “a couple of guys got rattled.”

9.  The Commodores proved they could be tough when needed.

10.  And Kevin Stallings was pleased with his team’s defense.

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Martin Can See UT In NCAA Tourney

After a hard fought win over Tennessee on Saturday, Kentucky’s John Calipari said the Vols are an NCAA Tournament-caliber team.  With his team’s defense improving and the recent addition of freshman hotshot Jarnell Stokes, Cuonzo Martin doesn’t disagree:


“Like I told our guys from Florida (an upset win) up until now, you say (we’re) one of the 65 or 68 teams, I would say, yes.  But you have to put a lot of work to cover some ground.  I would definitely say from teh time we started league play up until now, when you pick 65 or 33, 35 (at-large) teams, I would say, yes.”


Unfortunately, Martin’s team took some time to gel and to start believing in the coach’s defense-first mantra.  The Vols are just 8-9 overall with some pretty bad losses on the ol’ resume (Austin Peay at home, for example).

To reach the NCAA tourney, UT would likely need to upset Connecticut this week and then grab 11 SEC wins to reach the 20-win plateau.  Good defense or not, that seems like too much ground for Martin’s squad to make up.

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SEC Headlines – 1/10/12 Part One

With the sports world still buzzing over Alabama’s performance in the BCS title game last night, we pause to take a quick look at the stories making news elsewhere around the SEC:


1.  The Florida basketball team will play host to Georgia tonight.

2.  Seven UF early enrollees are already on campus.

3.  Georgia has lost nine straight games in Gainesville.

4.  The football Dawgs have now turned their focus to the offseason.

5.  Kentucky’s Anthony Davis is a shot-blocking beast.

6.  Joker Phillips’ job status will be the top football story in Lexington next fall.

7.  Darrin Horn wants his Gamecocks to play better defense when Vanderbilt visits tonight.

8.  It’s another first for South Carolina football — a Top 10 finish.

9.  Jarnell Stokes is now practicing with Tennessee and Cuonzo Martin expects him to pick up the offense and defense quickly.

10.  NFL assistant Rich Bisaccia is considering the special teams coordinator job at UT.  Again.

11.  Kevin Stallings is happy with Lance Goulbourne’s defense at Vandy.

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Freshman Stokes Waiting For SEC Clearance At UT

Mid-term signee Jarnell Stokes has been approved by the NCAA clearinghouse and the five-star prospect will be free to join the Tennessee basketball team just as soon as the SEC gives its stamp of approval.

The Memphis native was on UT’s bench during the Tigers’ 69-51 rout of the Vols on Wednesday night.  Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said, “He’s on the team now… he wanted to be there with us.”

Expectations are high for the power forward who turns 18 tomorrow.  And certainly no team could use an injection of talent and positivity than 7-7 Tennessee.  Stokes is already enrolled at UT and he’s eligible to practice.

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SEC Headlines – 12/29/11

We’ll kick the day off with a few headlines, then we’ll dig back into the SEC schedules for a bit more examination.  So first, here’s what’s happenin’ around the league…


1.  With Mike Dyer suspended, Tre Mason is looking forward to being Auburn’s big back in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

2.  Gene Chizik got a 50th birthday serenade from his Tiger players yesterday.

3.  Nick Saban enjoyed Christmas, but he has watching film by 1pm.

4.  Alabama’s players are excited to play “arguably” the best team in the country… again.

5.  Arkansas hasn’t decided which of next year’s home games will be in Fayetteville and which will be in Little Rock yet.

6.  Ricky Scott led the hoops Razorbacks to an 80-67 win over Charlotte last night.

7.  Its holiday break over, LSU hits the court tonight against Grambling State.

8.  Mississippi State’s 11-game win streak came to an end in a tight 54-52 loss to #6 (and unbeaten) Baylor in Dallas last night.

9.  In the Music City Bowl, MSU hopes to run right over Wake Forest’s small defensive line.

10.  Murphy Holloway’s high ankle sprain is a tough, tough blow to Ole Miss.

11.  For Gator Bowl combatants Florida and Ohio State, their January, 2007 national title bout seems like a long time ago.

12.  The spotlight will be on UF’s interim offensive coordinator Brian White on Monday.

13.  More Georgia underclassmen are considering a jump to the NFL.

14.  Leading Dawg receiver Malcolm Mitchell says he’d be willing to moonlight at corner if the coaches need him.

15.  Terrence Jones was back as Kentucky toppled Lamar 86-64 last night… and now the Cats’ attention can turn to Louisville.

16.  John Calipari prefers winning, but he says “at some point you’ve got to get stepped on” to learn a coach’s lessons.

17.  Bruce Ellington drained five 3-pointers to lead South Carolina past Wofford 57-45… and then he left to join the football team in Orlando.

18.  A number of Gamecock underclassmen are considering a jump to the NFL.

19.  Receiver DeAnthony Arnett is leaving Tennessee to move closer to his ailing father in Michigan.

20.  Cuonzo Martin wants his team to play better defense tonight against The Citadel.

21.  Vanderbilt will ease Festus Ezeli back into action tonight at Marquette.

22.  The football Commodores appear loose as they prep for their bowl game with Cincinnati.

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Five-Star Stokes Chooses Tennessee

Tennessee basketball coach Cuonzo Martin landed his first elite recruit on Thursday when Memphis, Tenn., forward Jarnell Stokes committed to the Vols.

Stokes, who’s considered a five-star prospect and the nation’s 11th-best player by Rivals.com, chose Tennessee over Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky and Memphis.

“I have spent a lot of time in prayer about what to do and I believe that the University of Tennessee is the right place for me,” Stokes said, according to ESPN.com. “I am excited about the future at Tennessee. I am going to work as hard as I can to fit in with my teammates and learn the system as quickly as I can to help the team.”

And Stokes plans to help Tennessee right away. He’s eligible to enroll in college next month and will be available to play for the Vols when the spring semester begins on Jan. 11.

I’m ready to play,” he told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I’m not going to lie. I’m going to be pushing to play.”

How significant is Stokes’ commitment for Tennessee? Mike Griffith of the Knoxville News Sentinel explains.

Memphis was considered at a time to be a favorite to land Stokes, but the Tigers were at a disadvantage because they don’t have an athletic scholarship available this season. Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com wrote this week that NCAA rules would not allow Stokes to play this season as a “recruited walk-on.”

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UT’s Golden Will Play With Broken Nose

Tennessee point guard Trae Golden — it was announced today — broke his nose during a practice session on Friday.  But according to UT coach Cuonzo Martin, Golden will play against UNC-Asheville tomorrow night.

The sophomore is leading the Vols in scoring (14.4 points per game) and assists (5.8 per game).

He is expected to have surgery on the nose on December 30th.

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SEC Hoops Update 12/19/11

Five and a half.

That’s the over/under for SEC teams making the NCAA Tournament in March.  And that number was set by our guys at the fabulous MrSEC.com Casino and Resort in fabulous Possum Trot, Kentucky… in case you’re wondering.

As of last week, the SEC had five programs ranked in the Top 25, though some will likely topple out this week.  In terms of current RPI rankings, the league features five teams in the RPI Top 50 and a sixth at #62.

If the Big Dance started today, five SEC teams would likely receive invites.  But now toss in the fact that Mike Slive’s conference has had two teams reach the Elite Eight in each of the last two tourneys and the selection committee might be a little more liberal with the invitations this time around.  In addition, the SEC standings table won’t make the strengths and weaknesses of the divisions — and the SEC is still using divisional scheduling this season — quite so obvious to those on the outside looking in.

As we roll into Christmas week, here’s a quick look at how each league squad is doing in terms of overall record, RPI and strength of schedule:


Mississippi State
Record: 11-1
Streak: Won 10

RPI: 62
SOS: 193
Vs RPI Top 50: 1-0

Last Game: Beat Detroit 80-75
This Week: Northwestern State

Tourney Chances: Despite a weak schedule, MSU’s chances are likely good if they can keep winning.


Kentucky

Record: 9-1
Streak: Won 1

RPI: 21
SOS: 86
Vs RPI Top 50: 2-1

Last Game: Beat Chattanooga 87-62
This Week: Samford and Loyola (MD)

Tourney Chances: Are you kidding?  It’s just a matter of the Cats earning a #1 seed.


Auburn

Record: 6-1
Streak: Won 2

RPI: 99
SOS: 289
Vs RPI Top 50: 0-1

Last Game: Beat North Florida 84-71
This Week: Florida A&M and at Hawaii

Tourney Chances: With that schedule, Tony Barbee’s team would have to get on one heckuva roll in league play.


Ole Miss

Record: 9-2
Streak: Lost 1

RPI: 41
SOS: 88
Vs RPI Top 50: 1-2

Last Game: Lost to Southern Miss 86-82
This Week: at Middle Tennessee State

Tourney Chances: The Rebels have shown that they could reach the upper-middle of the SEC pack which — thanks to an improved schedule — could earn Andy Kennedy a much needed bid.


Florida
Record: 8-2
Streak: Won 3

RPI: 50
SOS: 108
Vs RPI Top 50: 1-2

Last Game: Beat Texas A&M 84-64
This Week: Mississippi Valley State and Florida State

Tourney Chances: Barring major injuries and a complete collapse, the Gators will go dancing.


Alabama

Record: 8-3
Streak: Lost 1

RPI: 24
SOS: 11
Vs RPI Top 50: 1-2

Last Game: Lost to Kansas State 71-58
This Week: Oklahoma State

Tourney Chances: The Tide have lost three of four.  Despite playing solid defense, Anthony Grant’s squad hasn’t shown much consistency yet.  Still, expect them to reach the tournament.


LSU

Record: 7-3
Streak: Won 4

RPI: 74
SOS: 110
Vs RPI Top 50: 0-1

Last Game: Beat UC-Irvine 66-59
This Week: Marquette

Tourney Chances: Pretty slim.


Arkansas

Record: 6-3
Streak: Won 1

RPI: 120
SOS: 152
Vs RPI Top 50: 0-2

Last Game: Beat SE Louisiana 62-55
This Week: East Kentucky and Louisiana Tech

Tourney Chances: The knee injury that took down Marshawn Powell for the year likely killed the Hogs’ hopes of reaching the NCAA tourney, too.


Vanderbilt

Record: 6-4
Streak: Lost 1

RPI: 12
SOS: 1
Vs RPI Top 50: 0-4

Last Game: Lost to Indiana State
This Week: Longwood and Lafayette

Tourney Chances: The SEC’s most-experienced team has been dealing with injuries so far.  Expect them to right the ship and reach the Dance.


Georgia

Record: 5-5
Streak: Won 1

RPI: 86
SOS: 38
Vs RPI Top 50: 0-1

Last Game: Beat Southern Cal 63-59
This Week: Mercer and Furman

Tourney Chances: Slim.


South Carolina

Record: 4-6
Streak: Lost 1

RPI: 204
SOS: 129
Vs RPI Top 50: 0-2

Last Game: Lost to Ohio State 74-66
This Week: SE Louisiana

Tourney Chances: Not good against an SEC “East” schedule, but getting their best player in Bruce Ellington back should help.


Tennessee

Record: 3-6
Streak: Lost 4

RPI: 276
SOS: 148
Vs RPI Top 50: 0-1

Last Game: Lost to College of Charleston 71-65
This Week: UNC-Asheville and East Tennessee State

Tourney Chances:  Nil.  Cuonzo Martin inherited a roster with more holes than a slab of Swiss cheese.

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