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SEC Headlines – 2/17/12

Sort of a light day of action around the SEC today…

1.  Zach Mettenberger says he’s ready to take over LSU’s offense.

2.  The ex-Georgia quarterbacks is expected to be one of the new stars of the 2012 Tigers.

3.  Florida has already clinched a bye in the SEC Tournament.

4.  Kentucky’s Ridge Wilson — arrested for drug trafficking over the weekend — was allowed by former coach Rich Brooks to return to UK’s team after allegedly striking his girlfriend in 2009.

5.  Will the NCAA’s new kickoff rule backfire?

6.  Mid-season addition Jarnell Stokes is still learning his role at Tennessee.

7.  As well as Vanderbilt shoots from the field, free throws could be the Commodores’ eventual undoing.

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UT’s Stokes Plans To Win At UK (Someday)

On Tuesday night, top-ranked Kentucky suffocated Tennessee 69-44 at Rupp Arena.  The Vols’ prized freshman, Jarnell Stokes, was held to just 4 points and 6 rebounds in 23 minutes of action.

Stokes’ took the beatdown to heart:

“It definitely made me more hungry.  I definitely wanted to win.  If anything, I want to win at Rupp Arena.  I plan on winning, before I leave, at Rupp Arena.  I’m saying that on the record right now.  It made me more hungry and made me dislike Kentucky more.”

Stokes picked Tennessee over Kentucky during the battle for his services, but many UK faithful believe he would’ve wound up in Lexington if the Cats had had a scholarship to offer.  That “dislike Kentucky more” quote doesn’t seem to jive with that theory.

As for Stokes’ goal of winning in Lexington… good luck, kid.  The Wildcats are a sizzing 474-60 all-time at Rupp.  Since the building opened in 1976, Tennessee has won there on just four occasions: ’77, ’79, ’99, and ’06.

Stokes may indeed dislike Kentucky, but his odds of beating the Cats on their home floor are long.

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SEC Headlines – 1/31/12

1.  Who is leading the SEC in assist-to-turnover ratio?  Twelfth-ranked Florida.  Heck, the Gators lead the nation in that stat.

2.  Georgia’s got a culinary advantage when it comes to recruiting.

3.  When Tennessee travels to platinum-uniform-wearing Kentucky tonight, freshmen Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jarnell Stokes will be the stars to watch.

4.  Off to a 1-5 SEC start, South Carolina can’t afford to waste time moping.

5.  The numbers suggest the Vols are in for a tough night at Rupp Arena.

6.  Tonight, Vanderbilt will try to break Arkansas’ press as well as their 15-game home winning streak under Mike Anderson.

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SEC Headlines – 1/27/12 Part One

1.  Florida rallied from a 16-point first-half deficit to avoid an upset at Ole Miss.

2.  Who would have dreamed that the Georgia football program would be dealing with immigration issues?

3.  When John Calipari’s team travels to LSU tomorrow, they’ll be facing a former Kentucky Mr. Basketball who they chose not to recruit.

4.  South Carolina hopes to build on its first SEC win of the year when the Cocks trade baskets with Ole Miss tomorrow.

5.  Tennessee’ Cuonzo Martin believes Jarnell Stokes’ tough night at Vandy “was one of the best things for him.”

6.  Derek Dooley has hired Charlie Coiner – on North Carolina’s staff last season — as the Vols’ special teams coach.

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VU And UK Win Easily Over UT And UGA

The favorites took care of business in the SEC last night as Vanderbilt thrashed Tennessee in the opener and Kentucky cruised past Georgia in the nightcap.

Vanderbilt 65, Tennessee 47

The Commodores rebounded from their overtime loss to Mississippi State with their ninth win in 10 games last night.  Jeffery Taylor and John Jenkins combined for 39 points on 13-of-26 shooting from the field.  While Vandy raced out to a 9-0 lead, Tennessee continued to go cold on the road.

The Vols — who beat defending national champ UConn on Saturday — clanked in just 35% of their shots against VU’s stingy defense.  The Dores also forced Tennessee into a season-high 25 turnovers and held true freshman hotshot Jarnell Stokes to just 6 points.

Kentucky 57, Georgia 45

Georgia played nip-and-tuck basketball with the nation’s top-ranked team for about 10 minutes.  And then Kentucky came to life.  Senior Darius Miller led the Cats with 19 points as they pulled past UGA before the halftime break and then coasted to their 12th win in a row. 

Despite the win, John Calipari wasn’t pleased with his team’s uneven performance.  “Last year’s team, I couldn’t believe we were as good as we were so I didn’t have to say a whole lot.  This year’s team, we could be really special and we’re not right now.”

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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 – 1/16/12 Part Two

1.  Florida may be moving up in the polls, but Billy Donovan is worried that Patric Young has been limited by an ankle injury.

2.  Will Muschamp likes what he’s seeing out of new offensive coordinator Brent Pease as a recruiter.

3.  It’s been 51 games since Kentucky allowed a team to shoot better than 50% from the floor.  (Considering the youth at UK the last two years, that kind of defensive buy-in is truly an amazing feat.)

4.  Steve Spurrier gives as short a comment on the hiring of running backs coach Everette Sands as you’ll ever find in a press release.

5.  Kentucky’s John Calipari was impressed by what he saw of Tennessee on Saturday…

6.  And the arrival of impressive freshman Jarnell Stokes is helping the Vols’ chemistry.

7.  The Vanderbilt football program has pieces to build on in 2012.

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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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SEC Headlines – 1/9/12

Here are some quick headlines from around the league with a flurry of BCS title game coverage to boot:

1.  The SEC has named its Players of the Week.

2.  The conference has thrived under the leadership of Mike Slive.

3.  The last time Auburn finished 8-5 they followed it up with a BCS title the next year.  Can history repeat itself?

4.  ESPN will debut a film on former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson on February 11th. 

5.  Murphy Holloway isn’t 100%, but Ole Miss coaches hope he’ll be ready to face Arkansas on Wednesday.

6.  Rick Stansbury wants to get Brian Bryant and Jalen Steele more involved in MSU’s offense.

7.  Florida is in position to land the #1 signing class in America.

8.  Georgia’s Brandon Boykin has won the Paul Hornung Award for being the nation’s most versatile player.

9.  A pair of future Kentucky basketballers are looking good.  (Big surprise.)

10.  Devin Taylor said today he’ll return for his senior season… and it looks like South Carolina will again be good on defense.

11.  Mid-term enrollee Jarnell Stokes has been cleared to play, but Tennessee likely won’t use him this week. 

12.  Quarterback Patton Robinette has left the University of North Carolina to become a mid-term enrollee at Vanderbilt instead.

And the title talk:

1.  It’ll be “big boy” football in the BCS title game tonight.

2.  Expect more points in tonight’s rematch.  (We agree.)

3.  Three last-minute thoughts on Game of the Century II.

4.  LSU’s tougher schedule could pay dividends.

5.  Last night, the Tide watched “Red Tails” while the Tigers saw “Contraband.”  In case you were wondering.

6.  The Honey Badger is as fierce as they come.

7.  Nick Saban was quite the charmer during yesterday’s media gathering.

8.  Bama has been prepping to stop LSU’s option game.

9.  With a win, LSU could be called the greatest team ever.

10.  There’s a lot of history at stake in tonight’s game.

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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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