"Professor D" Live Courtside Blog
Join SEC "Blue Ribbon" columnist Chris "Professor D" Dortch live courtside every day at the 2011 SEC Men's Tournament in the Georgia Dome at Atlanta. "Professor D" will report on the behind the scenes happenings during the events, and take your questions every day for one hour prior to opening tip off. We kick things off with Wednesday's press conferences, as teams and players come to the podium to discuss what it will be like playing for all the marbles in the SEC Tournament.
Sunday - Championship Game
Florida vs. Kentucky
3:00 pm (ET)
-- Great effort by Kentucky. Winning the SEC Tournament should give a young team some real momentum heading into the Big Dance. With the way the Cats shoot 3s, they have a chance to make an extended run. As for Florida, the loss probably cost the Gators a No. 2 seed in the NCAAs, but the Gators still have the right mix of talent to go a long way, too. The key for Florida is not to get off to slow starts, as it did in all three games it played in the SEC Tournament.
2:45 pm (ET)
-- That last turnover, with 3:52 to play and Kentucky ahead, 58-49, could have been the backbreaker for Florida.
2:40 pm (ET)
-- Gators have time to get back into it. Joe Lunardi says a win here would give them a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That's a huge advantage.
2:30 pm (ET)
-- Kenny Boynton had better start heating up for Florida. This is getting close to the go, no-go zone for Florida. The huge pro-Kentucky crowd can help carry the Cats in if they maintain a double-digit lead to the 5-minute mark.
2:10 pm (ET) --
Florida has trailed at halftime of all three of its SEC Tournament games. Can the Gators get hot and come back like they did against Tennessee and Vanderbilt? The first half is not starting well.
1:55 pm (ET)
-- Kentucky's interior defense is really good. And Eloy Vargas is contributing today. Good signs for the 'Cats.
1:30 pm (ET)
-- So far this is shaping up to be a great championship game. Both teams competing and making shots. Much rather see an up-and-down high-scoring game than a half-court slugfest.
1:15 pm (ET)
-- DeAndre Liggins starting in place of Doron Lamb for Kentucky.
12:50 pm (ET)
-- Kentucky freshman guard Doron Lamb is on the floor and hoisting jump shots. Looks OK to me.
Saturday - Semifinal Round
Vanderbilt vs. Florida
5:15 pm (ET)
-- Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker blazing for Florida. Vanderbilt has let the Gator guards get heated up.
5:00 pm (ET)
-- Vanderbilt has gone and let Florida's Erving Walker get hot. Double-figure lead all but gone as Walker leads the way.
3:45 pm (ET)
-- The Georgia Dome has been good to Florida. The Gators have won the SEC Tournament there in 2005 and 2007 and the national championship in 2007.
3:41 pm (ET)
-- Vanderbilt hasn't played in the SEC Tournament championship game since 1951. Surprising.
3:40 pm (ET)
-- Vanderbilt's fine wing tandem of John Jenkins and Jeffrey Taylor carrying over hot play from Friday night win over Mississippi State. Dores out to an 11-2 lead over Florida.
3:30 pm (ET)
-- An old coaching adage says that it's hard to beat a good team three times in one season. We'll see in the second game of the SEC Tournament's Saturday session. Florida beat Vanderbilt twice in the regular season, including handily in Nashville. Can the Gators make it three in a row over the Commodores?
Alabama vs. Kentucky
2:55 pm (ET)
-- The Kentucky staff must have a shot doctor on it. Some college coaches don't like to—or can't—teach the art of shooting. Some don't think a player with a poor jump shot can ever improve it. But it's plain to see looking at Kentucky's players that they're being taught perfect shooting form.
2:40 pm (ET) --
The Georgia Dome is Rupp Arena South, as always. You have to admire the passion of the Cat fans. SEC misses the day when Arkansas brought almost as many fans as Kentucky to its tournament.
2:35 pm (ET)
-- Josh Harrellson can't be stopped.
2:20 pm (ET)
-- Danger zone for Alabama. If Brandon Knight starts to heat up for Kentucky, and already trailing 44-28, could be trouble for the Tide, which is still battling for an NCAA spot.
2:00 pm (ET) --
Kentucky in control over Alabama despite minimal contributions from leading scorers Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones. Wonder if Jones' left ankle is a factor? Veteran players carrying the day so far: Josh Harrellson and DeAndre Liggins with eight points each and Darius Miller with five.
1:15 pm (ET) --
Kentucky guard Doron Lamb is a prototypical shooting guard: He can hurt teams in several different ways. SEC's leading in 3-point percentage can also get to the rack.
Friday -- Quarterfinal Round
Tennessee vs. Florida
10:30 pm (ET)
-- Florida coach Billy Donovan says having low post threats gives his team a chance to compete as March Madness rolls on: Alex Tyus and Vernon Macklin combine for 25 points and 9 boards vs. Tennessee.
9:30 pm (ET) --
Florida jumps out to double digit lead in foul-a-thon.
9:00 pm (ET) --
Florida leads 52-50 with 11:20 when Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl gets called for a technical foul. We'll see how big a sequence that turns out to be.
8:15 pm (ET) --
Tennessee gets back into the game with aggressive defense. Still struggling to score, especially Scotty Hopson, who committed three straight turnovers in a row at one point.
8:00 pm (ET)
-- Florida shredding Tennessee defense early. Vols aren't closing out on Gators' 3-point shooters.
7:17 pm (ET) --
In the regular season, Tennessee lost twice to Florida, once in overtime and the other by a point. Still, the Vols have an 8-4 record against the Gators in Bruce Pearl's six seasons.
Kentucky vs. Ole Miss
5:35 pm (ET) --
Kentucky is feeding off the crowd. There has to be 15,000 Wildcat fans in the Georgia Dome. If Ole Miss wants to win, it better start making free throws.
5:05 pm (ET)
-- Josh Harrellson stepped up for Kentucky in the first half. Terrence Jones had two fouls and was limited to 13 minutes, but Harrellson played 18, contributing nine points and five rebounds, including three on the offensive end.
Alabama vs. Georgia
3:55 pm (ET)
-- Alabama's Tony Mitchell on hitting a huge three-pointer that helped the Crimson Tide get past Georgia:
"Coach [Anthony Grant] drew up a play for me to basically get to the rim. But everybody from Georgia sagged off of me. I guess they lost me. So i decided to take the shot."
What did he think when it left his hand?
"Good," Mitchell said.
3:35 pm (ET)
-- Great comeback by Alabama. Can a win over Georgia be enough to secure an NCAA Tournament bid? Overall body of work still the primary consideration, but this win didn't hurt.
3:00 pm (ET)
-- Alabama fighting for its NCAA Tournament life. High drama!
1:45 pm (ET)
-- Then again, if Georgia keeps knocking down threes, Alabama's build a wall defense is going to collapse.
1:43 pm (ET)
-- If Charvez Davis keeps making threes, Alabama's chances to beat Georgia improve significantly.
1:13 pm (ET)
-- Is it an NCAA Tournament play-in game today for Georgia and Alabama? Maybe not for the Dawgs, who seem to have earned their spot. Alabama needs to win, though, which should make this one of today's most entertaining games.
Thursday -- The Opening Round
Vanderbilt vs. LSU
10:55 pm (ET)
-- Jeffrey Taylor on his game against LSU. Vanderbilt needs his A game to make a deep NCAA run.
Tennessee vs. Arkansas
10:30 pm (ET)
-- Tennessee locker room was relieved to say the least. Coach Bruce Pearl points to Vols' overall schedule strength as a primary consideration for NCAA committee.
9:36 pm (ET)
-- Is Tennessee trying to toss away an NCAA bid? Rotnei Clarke ties score at 68. Vols lose 16 points lead.
9:15 pm (ET)
-- Hogs not done yet. Cut Tennessee lead to seven after a couple of ill-advised three-point jacks by the Vols.
9:00 pm (ET)
-- Tennessee's Scotty Hopson doesn't start second half. Coaches decision. Perhaps due in part to the fact Hopson took just two shots. Once he gets back in the game, Hopson quickly doubles his shot attempts.
8:45 pm (ET)
-- Big reason Arkansas trails Tennessee by 12 at halftime: Marshawn Powell and Rotnei Clarke haven't made a field goal between them.
8:30 pm (ET)
-- Tennessee freshman Tobias Harris is putting on a clinic on how to use the backboard to score. Vols up 33-23 behind Harris' 14 points.
8:25 pm (ET)
-- Tennessee and Arkansas seem to be playing hard enough. Just not getting much out of all that effort. Tons of fouls being called too.
8:00 pm (ET)
-- Tennessee was 3-5 in SEC home games this season but 5-3 on the road. Vols also beat VCU, Villanova and Pitt at neutral sites. Does that bode well for Tennessee against Arkansas?
Ole Miss vs. South Carolina
5:00 pm (ET)
-- If Ole Miss bigs played all season the way they're playing today, Rebels would have sat out today's action and started the tournament tomorrow.
4:30 pm (ET)
-- Ole Miss/South Carolina tightening up a bit. Ole Miss needs this for guaranteed NIT spot. Rebels would have to win SEC Tournament to go dancing.
3:55 pm (ET)
-- Hot topic on press row is Arkansas situation
3:40 pm (ET)
-- Ole Miss could use a win over South Carolina to re-establish a little momentum in the postseason. Will have to win the SEC Tournament to go dancing, but worst case scenario, NIT is invaluable in terms of giving your returning players more practice and game experience.
Auburn vs. Georgia
Before Chris gets the live blog up and running, I figured this would be as good a place as any to promote today's "One-On-One" that "Professor D" wrote. He interviewed Vanderbilt's Festus Ezeli, and intriguing player with a remarkable background. Check out that article on the SEC Blue Ribbon Report section of SEC Nation here.
2:25 pm (ET)
-- Speaking of the tornado game, I wrote a story about that night for the SEC Tournament game program. Got to speak with Mikhail Riley, who hit the now-legendary shot that sent the Mississippi State-Alabama game into overtime and probably saved some lives. Riley's now playing in a pro league in France. Good guy.
2:30 pm (ET)
-- Regardless of what happens today, Tony Barbee has Auburn headed in the right direction. Here's a little reminder for Auburn fans: In the fall, Barbee and his staff signed Cedrick McAfee, Willy Kouassi and Bernard Morena, three players that will provide a quick talent infusion.
2:00 pm (ET)
-- Trey Thompkins is a load for Auburn to handle today.
1:50 pm (ET)
-- Nice to see the sun pouring through the roof of the Georgia Dome and not rain. Last time I was in this building a tornado struck.
1:30 pm (ET)
-- If Vanderbilt's Festus Ezeli is not the most improved player in the SEC, Georgia's Jeremy Price is.
1:25 pm (ET)
-- Talked to ESPN commentator Jimmy Dykes just before he went on the air. Like a lot of us, he sees a wide-open tournament that mirrors the SEC's regular season. If that holds true, will Florida be the last team standing on Sunday?
1:10 pm (ET)
-- Big game for Georgia. "Joey Brackets"'Lunardi has the Dawgs in his latest bracket. But a win over Auburn today would make Selection Sunday that much easier for Georgia fans.
Wednesday -- Press Conference Day and Pre-Tourney Practices
Below you'll find links for each team's quotes that took part in the Wednesday press conference. Click on the team to read the full quotes.
We also snapped some pictures of what the dome looks like before the SEC "madness" begins tomorrow. Check out those photos at the SEC's official Facebook page here