SEC links for Wednesday:
Kevin Brockway: Florida gets its first win at Tennessee since 2005
Florida needed extra time to exorcise the demons of Thompson-Boling Arena games past. But the Gators overcame some shaky moments down the stretch in regulation to beat Tennessee 81-75 in overtime for their first win at the Vols homecourt since 2005. “I look at it more as it’s a win in the Eastern Division,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “It’s one game. It’s one win. I think you like the fact that it’s on the road and it’s in your division.”
John Adams: Digging out of an 0-2 hole is tough
Never mind that the SEC basketball season isn’t a week old. Tennessee’s 81-75 overtime loss to Florida was crucial for a team that aspires to win a conference championship. Combine that setback with Saturday’s defeat at Arkansas and you have a rare 0-2 beginning in SEC play for UT. How rare? Ray Mears coached 15 years at UT and never started 0-2 in conference play. Don DeVoe coached the Vols for 11 seasons and never lost his first two SEC games.
Scott Rabalais: Les Miles rejects Michigan, saying LSU is now home
Les Miles may be a Michigan man at heart – but when it came down to it, he didn’t have the heart to leave LSU. After a Monday night meeting in Baton Rouge with Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon, Miles informed LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva on Tuesday that he wished to remain as the school’s head coach. “The want and need to stand by my commitment to the team I coach and the school I represent really overshadowed any other consideration,” said Miles at an impromptu news conference here Tuesday afternoon.
The game barely had ended, the field still full of people wearing orange and blue, but Auburn’s first national championship since 1957 already was shaded by a tinge of controversy. A photo by the Opelika-Auburn News showed quarterback Cam Newton hugging his father, Cecil, following the Tigers’ 22-19 BCS title game victory Monday night against Oregon. Cecil’s presence has been a hot-button issue since the NCAA concluded after an investigation that he sought money from a Mississippi State booster last year to secure his son’s services.
Mike Strange: Outcome always seems to be the same
Quick, somebody write a new ending. Victory eluded Tennessee’s basketball team again Tuesday night, just as it has once, twice, three times before. This time the details were Florida, 81-75, in overtime.
Jeff Lockridge: Vanderbilt hasn’t panicked over first SEC loss
For a team with aspirations of winning an SEC championship, the Commodores (11-3, 0-1) had a funny way of showing it down the stretch in Columbia. Seemingly comfortable second-half leads of 14 with 13:52 to play and 11 with 8:46 fell by the wayside as the Gamecocks’ crashed the offensive boards and Sam Muldrow piled up eight of his 10 blocks after halftime.
Seth Emerson: Georgia turns its attention to Vanderbilt
A win over Kentucky earned the Georgia men’s basketball team a dose of national recognition. It did not earn the Bulldogs a break from the every-day trappings of the weather.
The snow storm that slammed the Southeast canceled Georgia’s plans to fly out to Wednesday night’s game at Vanderbilt. So after some frantic maneuvering, the team chartered a bus and made the trek to Nashville for the game. “Rolling down the highway,” head coach Mark Fox tweeted at about 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
Now, the Crimson Tide (9-6, 1-0 SEC) may have its toughest test yet when it comes to winning at home, putting its unbeaten Coleman Coliseum record on the line in the first home Southeastern Conference game of the season against South Carolina. Alabama won two meetings with the Gamecocks last season, including a memorable rally from an 18-point second-half deficit in the league tournament in Nashville. But this is a new-look Gamecock team, powered by three starting freshmen and a revamped Sam Muldrow in the middle.
Bost, though, is a known quantity. He is 3-1 against the Rebels, a mark that senior point guard Chris Warren is likely well aware. Generally speaking, Warren knows Bost is skilled in transition and thinks the key to success is containing him on defense. But this year, with Bost having played just one game? “I really don’t know what to expect,” Warren said. “I”m not going to underestimate anyone. I’m not going to overestimate anyone.”
Scott Hotard: Arkansas provides a challenge for LSU
If the Tigers (9-7, 1-0) are to stay unbeaten in the SEC very long, Johnson knows they will have to earn it. LSU nearly gave up a 26-point halftime lead Saturday in its 62-55 win. It can’t afford anything short of a 40-minute effort against Arkansas, which visits the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Wednesday after beating Tennessee to open its conference season.
Mark Bradley: Fran Tarkenton rips Georgia football
Richt’s all-is-well press briefing of Jan. 4 apparently set Tarkenton’s teeth to gnashing. Concerning the announcement that Richt would re-immerse himself in the finer points of football, Tarkenton said this: “Holy cow! Yesterday, where Mark Richt says, ‘I have been freed from administrative duties to spend more time on football.’ Then I quote him, he said, ‘The moves give [me] more time to study the game of football and be an expert and be on the cutting edge.’ What has he been doing for nine years? I have never heard any college, high school, professional coach [say] that [he] was not able to spend enough time on football.”
Sure, quarterback Cam Newton made a series of nice throws and important runs. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley, now considered the top professional prospect, made a mess of the Ducks’ defensive front as expected. Yet the Tigers’ overall defensive effort was the difference. Oregon is a running team at heart with a tailback, LaMichael James, who was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. He finished with 49 rushing yards on 13 carries.
Kevin Scarbinsky: This won’t be Gene Chizik’s last rodeo
On the morning after, Gene Chizik looked nothing like a national championship football coach. Instead of sporting a suit or a blazer, he went all Casual Friday three days early. Blue jeans. Open-collar shirt. Leather jacket. He looked like a 49-year-old dad about to fly cross-country with his kids.
The same oddsmaker lists three SEC teams in the top 10 – Florida, Alabama and LSU. But how about some outside-the-box thinking? Look, nobody expected Auburn to make this kind of run – hence the Tigers’ No. 22 ranking in the preseason polls – so why not go off the grid? Here’s one out of left field – Mississippi State.
Quarterback Barry Brunetti says he will transfer to Ole Miss, and plans to enroll in classes for the spring semester. Brunetti, from Memphis, Tenn., played as a backup in two games last season at West Virginia as a freshman.