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Calipari Says #1 Kentucky Might “Need A Loss”

When you’re gliding through the third month of the regular season with but one loss on your resume, it’s easy to say, “We could use a loss.”  Fact is, that’s pretty much just what John Calipari said yesterday.  And here’s guessing guys like Darrin Horn, Mark Fox and Cuonzo Martin aren’t too moved by Coach Cal’s “troubles.”

“We probably need a loss.  So we’ll come together and say, ‘We’re not losing like this.’  In other words, getting manhandled.  ‘That’s enough!’…

My thing is, let’s take one on the chin.  Now, what’s (the team) going to do?  Is (the team) going to say, ‘It’s OK.’  I don’t think they’ll say it’s OK.  That was my message. … IF this doesn’t start changing, we need to take a ‘L.’”

Kentucky’s coach is talking about his team’s tendency to get outmuscled at times.  But that probably won’t be an issue tonight at Georgia.  Granted, UK hasn’t looked good on the road this year — heck, no one ever looks good on the road anymore — but Fox’s Dawgs just don’t match up well with the Calipari’s Cats:

* Kentucky is first in the SEC in scoring offense, Georgia is last.

* Kentucky is first in the SEC in scoring margin, Georgia is last.

* Kentucky is first in the SEC in field goal percentage, Georgia is last.

* Kentucky is first in the SEC in field goal percentage defense, Georgia is last.

* Kentucky is first in the SEC in rebounding offense, Georgia is 11th.

* Kentucky is second in the SEC in rebounding defense, Georgia is 9th.

* Kentucky is first in the SEC in rebounding margin, Georgia is last.

* Kentucky is first in the SEC in blocked shots, Georgia is 11th.

Calipari’s “we need to take a ‘L’” talk is likely just a motivational tool for his team as it travels to meet an overmatched foe.  For if UK loses tonight, Georgia will have pulled — at least on paper — one of the biggest SEC upsets you’ll ever see.

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SEC B’Ball Teams Go 3-1 Last Night

Here’s a quick recap of SEC hoops action from Tuesday night…

Georgia 61, Notre Dame 57

The Bulldogs captured third place in the Kansas City-basd CBE Classic tournament with a rebound victory over Notre Dame last night.  The Dawgs had been crushed the night before by California, and Mark Fox’s young squad showed some spunk in bouncing back.  Freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — whose long name I’m going to get tired of typing this season — led UGA with 16 points.

Memphis 99, Tennessee 97 in 2 OT

The Volunteers aren’t getting wins, but they are proving to be a lot more competitive than a team picked for 11th place in the 12 team SEC.  A night after hanging with #6 Duke, UT fought back from a 16-point deficit and extended #8 Memphis into double-overtime before falling.  Forward Jeronne Maymon finished the night with 32 points and 20 rebounds (including a 16 of 17 night at the charity stripe).

South Carolina 61, Mississippi Valley State 57

After losses to Elon and Tennessee State, Carolina coach Darrin Horn didn’t need to do further damage to his resume with a loss to Mississippi Valley State.  Luckily for the coach, Malik Cooke scored 18 points and spurred (pun intended) the Gamecocks to a late really.  USC finished the game on a 22-7 run after trailing the now 0-4 Delta Devils by 11 with six minutes to play.

Arkansas 67, Utah Valley 59

Admission: In 40 years of following college sports, I’d never heard of the Utah Valley Wolverines until this week.  The fact that Arkansas trailed them 58-54 at home with less than four minutes to play tells you just how much the Hogs are struggling without leading scorer Marshawn Powell — out for the season with a knee injury.  The Razorbacks finished the game on a 13-1 run and were led by freshman guard BJ Young who recorded 18 points and 11 rebounds on the night.

Today’s action:

Tennessee vs Chaminade at Maui, 2:30pm ET (ESPNU)

Radford at Kentucky, 7:00pm ET (FSN)

Alabama A&M at Alabama, 8:00pm ET

South Alabama at LSU, 8:00pm ET (Cox Sports, regionally)

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SEC Headlines – 8/19/11 Part One

1.  Dan Mullen believes in the idea of the “hybrid player.”

2.  As MSU prepares for a major scrimmage tonight…

3.  They’ll do so without freshman defensive back Taveze Calhoun will likely miss the entire season.

4.  Houston Nutt gave his “leg weary” Rebels an afternoon off from practice.

5.  Former UM football assistant David Saunders plans to sue the school.  He claims AD Pete Boone had him fired because he worked to help athletes with learning disabilities get into Ole Miss.

6.  The Rebels have released their basketball schedule.

7.  True freshman Chris “Juice” Johnson is fitting in nicely at safety for Florida.

8.  Will Muschamp is still installing defensive schemes in Gainesville.

9.  UF fans can now share their own version of The Muschamp Stare.

10.  Florida’s basketball schedule is now complete.

11.  Experience should help Georgia’s defense this fall.

12.  Isaiah Crowell wasn’t full speed, but he was back at practice yesterday.

13.  Baccari Rambo’s starting spot at safety is no longer a given.

14.  Mark Fox says UGA’s hoops schedule was put together before Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie left for the NBA, “so it should be a real task for the team that we have.”

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The Hoops Coaching Carousel Is About To Start Up Again

In a surprise move — one that really hurts his school — Maryland coach Gary Williams will announce today his retirement from coaching basketball.  The 66-year-old Williams says he’s ready to move on with his life.  Too bad he didn’t come to that decision a month or two ago when it would’ve been easier for the Terps to find a replacement.

With Williams on the way out,’s Gary Parrish says Maryland’s search will “center on some of the men connected to most high-profile openings over the past few years — specifically Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon, Arizona’s Sean Miller and Villanova’s Jay Wright, multiple sources have told”  Notre Dame’s Mike Brey is also expected to be on the list.

Why mention this on an SEC website?  Because a few names from this league could wind up on the Terrapins list depending on how their search goes: Billy Donovan, Mark Fox, Anthony Grant, etc.  And depending on who Maryland finally hires, that coach’s ex-school will come open, too.  If it’s one of the men listed by Parrish, would Pitt, Arizona, Villanova or Notre Dame take an interest in a current SEC coach?

This isn’t an attempt to start a rumor.  We’ve heard nothing linking Donovan, Fox or Grant to the Maryland job.  But with the coaching carousel spinning again, we won’t be surprised if we do.

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Georgia Adds Center To 2011 Basketball Class

The Georgia basketball team has signed center John Cannon from Burnsville, N.C.

Cannon averaged 21.9 points, 12.3 rebounds and 6.5 blocks per game at Mountain Heritage High School during his senior season, according to the Athens Banner-Herald.

“We’ve very excited to have John Cannon joining the Bulldog family,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said in a released statement. “John has good size and good skills for a young big man. He understands the game extremely well and is an outstanding student. We believe that he has a very bright future ahead of him.”

Cannon is the fifth signee for Georgia’s class of 2011.

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UGA’s Fox Gets A Raise And Extension

Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox did good enough work in his second year to earn a $400,000 raise and a one-year contract extension.  The extension takes Fox’s pact through 2015-16 and the raise boosts his pay to $1.7 million per season.  Both items were approved by the school this morning.

“At one point in time he was basically too low on the SEC ladder,” Georgia AD Greg McGarity said.  “Mark would probably be the first person to tell you he doesn’t think he needs to be the highest paid coach in this conference. … It’s where we need to be.  I think Mark knows this is a long journey and we hope he’s our coach for a long, long time.  It’s probably where we need to be right now.”

The next step in the journey for Fox is to prove that he’s not going to suffer the same fate that befell John Pelphrey and Trent Johnson.  Both coaches had early success with veteran players left behind by their predecessors, only to experience precipitous drop-offs when those veterans departed.

UGA will lose four starters from this past year’s NCAA Tournament team, including two possible NBA first-round draft picks.

Fox has his cash.  Now he needs to show that he’s really building a winner in Athens… and not just winning with Dennis Felton’s players.

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VU Players Say They’re Better Than Last Year Already

Maybe James Franklin is going to be the next Mark Fox.  When Fox was hired from Nevada, most folks around the SEC — including some basketball vets — shrugged their shoulders and said, “Who?”  Two years later and Fox is currently one of the first names you hear when “up and coming” coaches are mentioned.

Granted, taking over a roster with two potential NBA first-rounders and landing in a fertile recruiting zone like Georgia gives Fox a leg up on Franklin, but the early returns are positive for Vanderbilt’s unheralded new football coach.

If nothing else, Franklin has brought a new energy to the Commodore program and that’s a positive.  A better Vandy is good for the SEC.

And according to Franklin, his players believe they are better: “Talking to our kids, I say where are we at right now?  They say that we’re a better football team right now than we were at any point last year.”

(That doesn’t say much for the work of interim Robbie Caldwell, of course.)

“Whether that’s true or not, they believe that and that’s important,” Franklin added.  “Were we perfect out there (during yesterday’s spring game)?  No.  We’ve got a long ways to go.  But they believe, and from talking to people, we’re much further ahead at this point than we were last year.  I just want to build on that.”

As Jeff Lockridge of The Tennessean points out, however, “better” is a relative term.  The Commodores have finished 2-10 in each of the past two seasons.

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UGA, Bama, Carolina Interested In Ex-UT Commit

Former Tennessee basketball commit Kevin Ware is drawing all kinds of interest from schools inside the SEC and out.  Ware changed his mind about the Vols when Bruce Pearl was fired.  He said he would still consider UT, but new coach Cuonzo Martin can’t actually visit him in person because Pearl’s staff already used up all of the Vols’ visits with Ware.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Ware’s stepfather Wesley Junior.  “We may have to go up there on an unofficial visit.  We’re waiting to see how it plays out.  If meeting Coach Martin in Tennessee is something that Kevin wants to do, then we’ll make the ride there so he can get a good feel for everything.”

When the next contact period begins tomorrow, the shooting guard from Conyers, Georgia is expected to receive visits from South Carolina, Louisville and Central Florida.  And The AJC reports that Georgia, Alabama, Georgetown and UCLA might drop by as well.

The Ware family contacted Mark Fox about the Bulldog program.  “They said they would love to have Kevin there,” Junior said.  “They think they could have one of the best backcourts in the country with Kevin and (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope).  Georgia really has an interest in getting Kevin there and seeing how they can develop him as a point guard.”

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SEC Headlines – 4/8/11 Part Two

1.  LSU holds its spring game tomorrow, but Les Miles wishes he could put his team through a few more practices.

2.  The Tigers’ spring game isn’t expected to draw as big a crowd as some other schools’ spring scrimmages.  Miles: “I don’t know, mayber there’s more to do in Louisiana than some of these other places.”

3.  25-year-old MSU assistant Angelo Mirando opens up about his receiving corps.

4.  Dan Mullen wants to see how his young guys react in front of a 40,000-person crowd at tomorrow’s spring game.

5.  Houston Nutt says “sometimes, looks like, boy we’re just running in mud… but we’re thinking a lot.”  Okay.

6.  Running in mud or not, the Rebels are ready for tomorrow’s scrimmage.

7.  Nutt says he’s seen improvement from his quarterbacks.

8.  Florida’s five-star players are starting to shine.

9. Much like Gainesville’s Tom Petty, Will Muschamp is where he is because he decided to run down a dream.

10.  UF is the latest school to use media members as coaches at its spring game.

11.  Georgia’s Aaron Murray is looking to build off of an outstanding freshman season.

12.  A wave of injuries has forced UGA coaches to do some shifting on the defensive side of the ball. 

13.  Mark Richt and Mark Fox will take their spring speaking tour into four different states this year.

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Officials Had To Be Escorted From Stegeman Coliseum Last Night

Georgia’s 14-point blown lead and loss against Vanderbilt can be explained rather easily: The refs did it.

The officials working last night’s game had to be escorted from the court by police as fans tossed debris onto the court and “taunted the officials” after the final buzzer sounded.  Taunting the officials is standard operating procedure in college basketball.  Tossing objects onto the court?  That’s just low class.  (Al from Dadetown would approve.)

UGA coach Mark Fox drew a technical in the game’s final moments which seemed to ignite the crowd.  “I just voiced some frustration,” Fox said afterward.

Well, at least he didn’t throw anything at the refs.

For the record, Vanderbilt shot 14 free throws on the night.  Georgia shot 10.  Gadzooks, the disrepancy!

Actually, there’s nothing out of the ordinary about Vandy getting more free throw attempts than its opponent.  As we showed last Friday, VU had attempted (through last week’s action) more free throws than any other team in the league both at home and on the road.  So maybe last night’s calls were the result of the Commodores’ style of play and not, you know, cheatin’ refs.

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