SEC: Tennessee picks up win; Trouble at Alabama, MSU

Around the SEC on a Friday morning:

Mike Griffith of the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports on Tennessee’s 69-56 win at Auburn. The Vols did not have Scotty Hopson, out with a sprained ankle. But that was no problem. Griffith: “Tennessee showed its resiliency once again. The Auburn men’s basketball team continued to exhibit ineptitude. The Vols, missing their head coach and leading scorer, dominated from start to finish in a 69-56 men’s basketball victory Thursday night before a crowd of 6,274 at Auburn Arena.”

Mike Strange of the News-Sentinel writes that Tennessee threw it weights around on the road. Strange: “For the second consecutive game the Vols steamrolled an SEC West opponent on the road. The margin was 17 points at Ole Miss on Saturday. Both were welcome developments for Tony Jones, whose job filling in for suspended Bruce Pearl has grown progressively less ulcer-inducing.”

The Vols are now 5-2 in the SEC, second behind first-place Florida at 6-2. Kentucky is 4-3.

The AP reports that an SEC school complained to commissioner Mike Slive about Alabama’s signing day webcam. “Web photos on what Alabama calls its “Fax Cam” showed an unidentified female student in a short, slitted skirt standing next to the fax machine and a board where names of each confirmed signee were posted as they arrived. The student is a Crimson Cabaret dancer who works in the football offices and was wearing her uniform. The dance team performed at halftime of the men’s basketball game Wednesday night, which tipped off some seven hours after the signing day Web cam went offline.”

Brad Locke of the NE Mississippi Daily Journal reports on the continuing circus that is Mississippi State basketball. Locke: “Rick Stansbury is muting his players’ voices on the social network. Mississippi State’s basketball coach announced Thursday that all players have been banned from using Twitter, the micro-blogging site that senior Ravern Johnson used to express his frustration after the Bulldogs’ 75-61 loss to Alabama on Wednesday. On his Twitter page, Johnson wrote that he understood why players transfer – a reference to the departures of Elgin Bailey and Twany Beckham – and criticized Stansbury’s coaching.”

The guess here would be that after everything that has happened this year in Starkville, Stansbury is on very thin ice.

Evan Woodbery of the Mobile Press-Register reports on the Auburn loss. After a big win at South Carolina, the Tigers fell flat against the Vols. “The Tigers’ problems were compounded by the loss of Rob Chubb, a starting center coming off the best game of his career, who was suspended for a violation of team rules. The move was announced about two hours before tip-off. Chubb scored 18 points at South Carolina and had been playing with increasing aggressiveness in the post.”

Elton Hayes reports for the Tuscaloosa News on the continuing recruiting saga of Cyrus Kouandjio. Hayes: “Cyrus Kouandjio still hasn’t made a final decision on his college destination and is down to the University of Alabama, Auburn and Iowa, the prospect’s father told The Tuscaloosa News on Thursday morning. The father said there are no plans to make an announcement until today at the earliest.. . .
Cyrus Kouandjio told the Washington Post on Thursday that he is no longer considering Iowa, but that New Mexico is back in play for his choice. The player told the Post that he remains committed to Auburn, but made it clear that his choice is not settled.”

The Montgomery Advertiser reports that Auburn looked timid in its loss to Tennessee. “Tennessee grabbed 38 rebounds to Auburn’s 24, which demonstrated the visitors’ most obvious advantage. Shooting percentages — perhaps even offensive strategy — are nearly immaterial when missed shots can be gathered at will and tipped in for easy baskets. That happened frequently. The Volunteers finished with 15 second-chance points.”

Jeff Lockridge of the Tennessean reports on Vandy’s search for a quarterback. New coach James Franklin celebrated his 39th birthday by signing three quarterbacks. Lockridge: “Ocean Lakes (Va.) quarterback Lafonte Thourogood committed to Virginia Tech, but new Vanderbilt offensive recruiting coordinator Chris Beatty convinced him to change, giving the Commodores the biggest surprise of their three quarterbacks. His other offers included Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Stanford and West Virginia.”

Rachel George of the Orlando Sentinel reports that the Florida quarterback situation has more questions than answers. George: “With a five weeks until the start of spring practice, two months until the spring game and seven months until the start of the season, there’s plenty of time for Will Muschamp to figure out his quarterback situation. That’s a good thing, because as he starts his tenure at Florida there are more questions than answers. Who will be the best option in Charlie Weis’ pro-style attack? Will rising senior John Brantley fare better in that system than Urban Meyer’s spread-option offense, as is expected? Will Jeff Driskel take over the position as a freshman?”

Jeff Schultz of the AJC writes on the rejuvenated Mark Richt. He thinks Georgia AD Greg McGarity is part of the reason. Schultz: “Amid cries from alumni, fans and media to fire Richt, McGarity has stood behind his football coach. McGarity’s belief has been that Richt proved himself early in his career, so he deserved an opportunity to fix the problems. That’s not an easy position for an athletic director to take, particularly in the SEC. The Richt that we saw on Wednesday on national letter of intent day didn’t remotely resemble the one on display for most of the season. He looked happy, excited – even in a relative state of bliss.”

Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald reports that Georgia has lost an assistant to the NFL.

Chris Low of espn.com runs down the possible replacements for OL coach at Georgia.

Glenn Guilbeau of the Shreveport Times thinks LSU missed a gold opportunity at a No. 1 recruiting class. Guilbeau: “A year like 2010-11 in Louisiana may not come around for another 10 years. Miles can recruit nationally. He did sign his only No. 1 class in 2009, according to ESPNU, with 12 from out of state, including No. 1-ranked safety Craig Loston of Houston, No. 6 defensive end Sam Montgomery of Greenwood, S.C., linebacker Kevin Minter of Suwanee, Ga., defensive tackle Michael Brockers of Houston and No. 1 quarterback Russell Shepard of Houston. But the best chance for LSU to grab a No. 1 on signing day is when the state has a year like it just did, and it did not happen.”

Robbie Neiswanger of the Arkansas News reports on the Razorbacks’ recruiting haul. Neiswanger: “Arkansas’ 30-member class won’t rank as high as many of its Southeastern Conference foes. But the Razorbacks were still brimming about their latest haul Wednesday. Petrino believes help is arriving at every position – including the needs at critical spots like the offensive line and linebacker positions – as the Razorbacks try to build on their 10-3 season.”

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