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SEC Headlines – 2/9/11 Part Two

1.  Florida’s basketball team is living on the edge.  (You can’t help yourself from fallin’.  Livin’ on the edge.  You can’t help yourself at all.  Livin’ on the edge.)

2.  Chandler Parsons is bringing home the awards with his improved play.

3.  The Gators next test: A road game at South Carolina tonight.

4.  New Georgia offensive line coach Will Friend is glad to be back in Athens.

5.  Georgia could have really used a win in last night’s game with Xavier.

6.  UGA isn’t playing well and that’s got them sitting on the bubble.

7.  Kentucky’s veterans finally came up big last night against Tennessee.

8.  The Wildcats cruised past the Vols…

9.  And regained some swagger in the process.

10.  Carolina needs to protect its home court tonight against Florida and again on Saturday against Georgia.

11.  Billy Donovan says USC outplayed his team “all the way through” a January 15th Gamecock win at Gainesville.

12.  Bruce Pearl and Scotty Hopson returned to action… but it wasn’t enough for Tennessee last night.

13.  Pearl said it was an honor to coach at Rupp Arena again.

14.  Virginia Tech’s Seth Greenberg has some nice things to say about Pearl.

15.  Vanderbilt’s banged-up duo of Andre Walker and Lance Goulbourne are practicing heading into tomorrow’s game with Alabama.

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UK Fans Let Pearl Have It In His Return

There is no love lost between Kentucky and Tennessee.  The two border rivals have hated on each other for more than 200 contests.  While the Wildcats have dominated the series, they haven’t quite dominated the Vols as much as they’ve dominated everyone else in the SEC.  Tennessee’s 60+ wins against the Cats have served as a serious annoyance to the Big Blue faithful.

Now toss in the return of a showman coach who wears a bright orange blazer against UK (and who won at Rupp in his very first game there back in 2006) and you can understand why the atmosphere was a bit more charged than usual in Lexington last night.

UK fans had a number of chants ready for the Vols’ Bruce Pearl when he took his place on stage.  “Bar-be-cue” was the most creative.  “Cheater” — when yelled by fans of a program that’s spent many nights in the NCAA pokey itself — was the most ironic.

Apparentely, some Cat fans actually managed to get under Pearl’s skin.  According to the website

“In a pivotal game for the Cats, the Rupp Arena crowd was great.  they were loud and directed a lot of heat at Scotty Hopson and Bruce Pearl, who engaged in some verbal sparring with some fans at halftime and had the police called over to try to have the fan removed from the game.”

Pearl will have to get used to the chants and name-calling.  For as long as he’s Tennessee’s coach — and no one knows for sure how much longer that will be — Pearl will never enter another SEC arena without hearing the word “cheater” echo down on him. 

Even in Lexington.

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With Panic Button In Sight, UK Prepares To Host UT

Here are three things most Bluegrass State residents never expected to see tied to together:

1.  Kentucky basketball
2.  John Calipari
3.  A 4-4 record midway through an SEC campaign

But that’s exactly what Cat fans will see today if they take a gander at the SEC East standings.  On the court, they’ll see a youthful team that only goes six-persons deep and that must mentally recover from back-to-back losses.  The first back-to-back losses for a Calipari team since 2005, by the way.

UK is also just 1-4 on the road in the SEC.  They have already lost four games by two-points.  Both facts can be attributed to youth which is why 2010-11 seems to be the flipside of the one-and-done coin for Kentucky fans. 

Last year, Calipari fielded youth that was ready for the NBA.  This year his youthful players are good… but they’re not that good.  UK’s team would certainly be better with Enes Kanter banging around in the paint, but Calipari was one of only a handful of coaches to even try to get that player through the NCAA’s red tape.  He knew the risks of chasing him.

So add it all up and the Wildcats are now 2.5 games behind Florida in the East.  Their season has had as many downs as it has ups and that’s not the way things are supposed to play out in Lexington.

Calipari is asking for patience as he tries to diagnose his team’s ills and come up with a cure.  “We’re close, but we’re not where we need to be,” the coach said after Saturday’s loss at Florida.  “I need to figure it out. … Let me do my job and figure it out.”

Coach Cal’s first chance to figure things out will come tomorrow night at Rupp Arena against Tennessee.  Neither team wants to fall another game behind the Gators in the East, so the stakes are high.  The storylines should be plentiful, too, as Bruce Pearl makes his return to the sidelines and the Vols try to collect yet another good RPI win away from home (to go along with Pitt and Villanova). 

Pearl says it’s “possible” that UT leading scorer Scotty Hopson will return to action after missing two games with a sprained ankle.  The Vols will need him at Rupp.

Tennessee has lost by an average of nearly 14 points in its last four trips to Lexington.  Senior center Brian Williams knows full well how tough it is to play at Rupp, even if he can’t explain why.

“Kentucky isn’t that loud; I’ve played in louder places,” Williams said.  “I can’t explain what it is about Rupp, but it’s something.  I guess it’s the old ghosts in there messing with you.”

Ghosts or not, Kentucky and Tennessee will face each other with plenty on the line Tuesday night.  First team to fix its issues wins.

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SEC Headlines – 1/27/11 Part One

1.  Credit Florida’s frontcourt for the Gators’ Tuesday night win at Georgia.

2.  Experts don’t believe Will Muschamp will pull a rabbit out of his hat on signing day… this year.

3.  Freshman running back Mike Blakely underwent shoulder surgery yesterday and will miss UF’s spring practice.

4.  Former Georgia AD Damon Evans pleaded guilty last week to his summer DUI charge.  He was given probation, community service and a fine — pretty standard for a first-time offense.  Sad story.

5.  New strength and conditioning coach Joe Tereshenski has identified UGA’s weaknesses — “I do see where we were getting beat.” — and is “attacking” the problem.

6.  6-2 Kentucky freshman Jarrod Polson is becoming more than “a human victory cigar.”

7.  Scotty Hopson scored an SEC career-high 22 points to lead Tennessee past struggling LSU 75-53.

8.  Hopson appeared motivated by Bruce Pearl’s use of the word “inconsistent” to describe him last week.

9.  Tonight Kevin Stallings will try to lead Vanderbilt to a win in Starkville for the first time during his 12-year tenure.

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A Stocking Full Of SEC East Headlines

1.  If your school has been in a scrape with the NCAA this year, you might find this article by’s Stewart Mandel pretty interesting.  (Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky fans, I’m talking to you.)

2.  Is Florida ready for a bowl rebound?

3.  The UF basketball team is still having troubles with turnovers. (Somebody blame Steve Addazio!)

4.  Freshman safety Alec Ogletree has worked his way into Georgia’s starting line-up with big hits.

5.  Georgia survived a 56-53 thriller with in-state rival Mercer last night.

6.  The NCAA says it won’t be swayed by the comments of Enes Kanter’s father… and it won’t rule on the UK big man’s eligibility until 2011. (Why not just let him play now and then suspend him for 2011-12?  You know, Ohio State style?)

7.  Without Kanter, John Calipari needs Eloy Vargas to assert himself more.

8.  Six Wildcats are logging heavy minutes… and six may be enough for Coach Cal.

9.  In football news, UK quarterback Morgan Newton is looking forward to starting in the BBVA Compass Bowl.  (That might make him the only person looking forward to the BBVA Compass Bowl.)

10.  South Carolina could be facing a shake-up on its offensive line in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

11.  Tennessee survived a 66-65 thriller with in-state rival Belmont last night.

12.  This writer says the Vols go as Scotty Hopson goes.

13. has “learned” that James Franklin has re-hired Vandy O-line coach Herb Hand.

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Hopson, Knight Win SEC Honors

The SEC has handed out is honors for the week and two of the league’s brightest stars have received them.

Tennessee guard Scotty Hopson was named the SEC’s Player of the Week for his 27-point performance in an 83-76 win over Pitt in downtown Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight received SEC Freshman of the Week honors after averaging 19 points, 5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in UK’s wins over Notre Dame and Indiana.

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Hopson, Jones Named SEC B’ball Players Of The Week

The SEC has named its Players of the Week in basketball for the past week’s action and both honorees play in the East Division.

Tennessee guard Scotty Hopson has been named the SEC Player of the Week for his MVP performance in the NIT Season Tip-Off tourney.  Hopson averaged 18 points, 6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game for the Vols, who won the tourney with an upset of seventh-ranked Villanova.

Kentucky forward Terrence Jones earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors following his outstanding play in the EA Sports Maui Invitational.  Jones averaged 23 points, 11.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game in Hawaii.  He scored 29 points against Oklahoma and dragged down 17 rebounds against Washington.

Don’t be surprised to see these two honored often this season.

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Hopson Makes Coaches All-SEC First Team

The Southeastern Conference unveiled its seventh annual men’s basketball coaches’ preseason All-SEC teams Wednesday, and Tennessee junior Scotty Hopson earned first-team honors.

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