SEC news and links for Monday:
FLORIDA KEEPS ON WINNING – Florida’s Gators improved to 10-2 in the league with a 69-61 win at lowly LSU. The Gators were without Chandler Parsons, who missed the game because of a thigh bruise. Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun reports that Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton led the way with 17 points each, while Vernon Macklin added 16.
Scott Hotard of The Advocate reports that LSU did pull within six points of Florida with four minutes left, but could get no closer. “The Tigers, down 40-25 at the half, got within 58-52 when Turner sank a jumper with 4:41 to play. The paid crowd of 7,711 grew loud and lively. But the Gators kept LSU stuck on 52 for two minutes, 55 seconds. A perfect 8-for-8 effort from the free-throw line took care of the rest, allowing Florida to grab a 68-57 edge with 36 seconds left.”
Glenn Guilbeau of the Shreveport Times points out that even without Parsons, Florida outrebounded LSU 41-29.
SEC WOMEN – Alabama won its third consecutive game, beating Ole Miss 61-52, reports Don Kausler of the Birmingham News. Ericka Russell scoring a season-high 21 points for the Lady Tide. Florida whipped Mississippi State 78-63, rallying from a 40-37 deficit with 15 minutes remaining in Gainesville.
South Carolina beat fading Auburn 65-49. Arkansas held off visiting LSU 42-40.
Carroll Rogers of the AJC previews tonight’s Tennessee-Georgia showdown. The Lady Vols are 13-0 in the league. Georgia is 10-3. The game is on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. The game is in Knoxville, but Roger Clarkson of the Athens Banner-Herald writes that Georgia believes it is ready for UT’s raucous arena.
SEC MEN’S TOURNAMENT – Seth Emerson, writing for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, has an excellent blog post looking ahead to the men’s SEC Tournament, and what the brackets would look like if the division standings were not used. Under the current set-up, Kentucky would be the No. 3 seed in the East, playing Auburn in the first-round. If the teams were re-seeded, Kentucky would be the No. 4 overall seed and receive a first-round bye.
Writes Emerson, “You could make an argument that the issuee isn’t the SEC not re-seeding the tournament – it’s having divisions in the first place. The ACC and Big East don’t do it, even though the ACC does it for football and the Big East has almost as many teams as the NBA. The SEC likes having the divisions because there’s consistency – you know you’re playing five teams twice a year, and six teams just once. There’s a lot of merit to that. But it’s always going to make it tougher for teams like Georgia and South Carolina.”
TENNESSEE TROUBLES – After a home loss at Georgia on Saturday, Tennessee must travel to Vanderbilt on Tuesday night in a must-win game. Now 6-6 in league play, the Vols may be sliding off the NCAA bubble. Mike Strange of the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports that Bruce Pearl wants someone besides Scotty Hopson, who scored 32 points against Georgia, to step up on Tuesday. According to Pearl, Vandy is better than Georgia.
ALABAMA VIOLATION? – A video of Nick Saban with Barry Sanders and Sanders’ son, who is being recruited by Alabama, is not an NCAA violation, claims Alabama. The video was of the three sitting together at the Alabama-Arkansas basketball game on Saturday night, reports Izzy Gould of the Birmingham News. “Our compliance office is aware of this claim and has looked into it,” Alabama spokesman Doug Walker wrote in an e-mail to Gould. “Based on that inquiry, it was determined that no violation was committed.”
Chase Goodbread of the Tuscaloosa News is also on the story/non-story, writing, “NCAA rules prohibit institutions from introducing visiting prospects at functions attended by the media or the public. Violation of the rule would be considered a secondary violation by the NCAA, which are lesser offenses generally self-reported by institutions.”
In other football news, Rachel George of the Orlando Sentinel looks at Will Muschamp’s rebuilding project at Florida.
SIDNEY AVAILABILITY FALL-OUT -- That Rick Stansbury allowed Renardo Sidney to do a TV interview after Mississippi State’s win over Ole Miss on Saturday has the Mississippi media in an uproar. Writes John Pitts of the NE Mississippi Daily Journal, “Renardo Sidney’s brief interview at the end of Saturday’s SEC-TV broadcast set off a furor in the Mississippi State press room. It was a tense scene for a few moments, as several reporters – including David Brandt of The Associated Press and Rick Cleveland of the Clarion-Ledger – demanded to know why Sidney, who’s been barred by the coaching staff from talking to reporters, was made available for the TV interview with Joe Dean Jr.”
Mississippi State officials said Sidney was not allowed to answer questions in the media room because of the fear that the media would ask him about the infamous fistfight-in-the-stands between Sidney and teammate Elgin Bailey in Hawaii.
MASS MOURNING – Auburn fans showed up at Toomer’s Corner on Saturday for a mass mourning over the poisoned oak trees at the legendary site, reports the AP. John Zenor writes, “Alabama student Sean Phillips, wearing a crimson-and-white Mark Ingram jersey, says it is [a really sad day for Alabama as a whole.’ He made the two-hour drive from home in Birmingham ‘to support a tradition that will soon be lost here.’”
Mr. SEC on the death threats to the family of “Al from Dadeville.”