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March 13, 2008
GEORGIA 97, OLE MISS 95 (OT)
OVERVIEW: Another SEC team's bubble burst. Georgia, the No. 6 seed in the SEC East, almost certainly ended Ole Miss' hopes for the NCAA Tournament by defeating the Rebels 97-95 in overtime in the final game of the fist day of the SEC Tournament. Ole Miss' David Huertas was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three free throws with 7.7 seconds left to send the game into overtime. Then, Ole Miss' Chris Warren was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 5.5 seconds left in the first overtime, then sank all three free throws to tie it at 95. But Corey Butler drove the ball upcourt before finding Dave Bliss on the wing. Bliss made the 10-foot jumper with 0.4 seconds remaining to win it. The Bulldogs were 26-of-32 from the line. Huertas scored 29 points, including seven 3-pointers.
BIG PICTURE: As with Florida, which lost earlier in the day, Ole Miss entered the SEC Tournament needing a couple of wins to strengthen its case for an NCAA bid. After the loss, the Rebels likely are headed to the NIT. The bigger implication may be for Georgia coach Dennis Felton, whose job status was murky entering the game. A win in the first round of the SEC tourney and a strong performance against Kentucky on Friday may earn him a few more believers.
TURNING POINT: Georgia made its win a lot tougher with by fouling Huertas on a 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation. The Bulldogs led 84-81 at the time, but Huertas calmly made all three free throws.
WHAT'S NEXT: Georgia could be a tough matchup for Kentucky. Kentucky hasn't faced a front line like this since Patrick Patterson was lost for the season.
NOTES: Shooters felt pretty comfortable at the Georgia Dome on the first day of the SEC Tournament, making half of their shots from the field. The eight teams were a combined 209-of-418.
Video Highlights: Georgia 97, Ole Miss 95, OT
VANDERBILT 93, AUBURN 82
OVERVIEW: Vanderbilt hopes to become the first team since 2000 to win four SEC Tournament games in four days, the Commodores got a good start. Freshman A.J. Ogilvy scored 27 points and SEC Player of the Year Shan Foster added 26 as the Commodores defeated an overmatched Auburn team in the first round of the SEC Tournament. Arkansas was the last team to win the SEC Tournament without the benefit of a first-round bye. The Hogs won the 2000 tournament as the third seed in the West; Vandy is the No. 3 seed in the East this season. On a day when Vanderbilt shot 67.3 percent from the field, Ogilvy led the way by going 12-of-13 from the field. Auburn blocked a dunk for Ogilvy's only miss. "It reminds me of playing in the backyard against my 6-year-old son. I could score on him anytime," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. "It was like that with Ogilvy."
THE BIG PICTURE: The outcome was no surprise. The Commodores' chances of improving their NCAA seeding will have to wait until at least Friday, when they face Arkansas. Foster is heating up at the right time, averaging 28.7 points in the past six games.
TURNING POINT: Auburn played with only a six-man rotation. When forward Quan Prowell, who at 6 feet 8 was the Tigers' best matchup against 6-10 Ogilvy, fouled out with 11:43 left, the Tigers were all but finished. Vanderbilt led by six at that point but went on to open a 17-point lead over the next five minutes.
WHAT'S NEXT: Vanderbilt faces Arkansas on Friday. Vanderbilt lost 78-73 in Fayetteville in its only meeting with Arkansas this season. Auburn's season ends at 14-17 overall and 4-12 in the SEC, and rumors are swirling about Lebo's future.
Video Highlights: Vanderbilt 93, Auburn 82
SOUTH CAROLINA 77, LSU 74
OVERVIEW: It was fitting that a game marked by coaching turnover was won and lost on turnovers. South Carolina forced 19 LSU turnovers to defeat the Tigers and advance to the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament.
The Tigers' loss begins a period of uncertainty in Baton Rouge; LSU fired coach John Brady in February and assistant Butch Pierre went 5-5 the rest of the way. South Carolina's win means Dave Odom, set to retire at the end of the season, will coach another day. All five South Carolina starters scored in double figures, led by freshman Mike Holmes' 16. Guard Devan Downey had 12 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and three steals. Evaldas Baniulis, a sophomore from Lithuania who reached double figures in only three regular-season games, had 16 points for South Carolina; he hit four 3-pointers.
THE BIG PICTURE: The Gamecocks face top-seeded Tennessee on Friday, when the Gamecocks hope to mess with the Volunteers' aspirations for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. South Carolina has made deep runs in the league tournament under Odom; during his tenure, the Gamecocks reached the semifinals in 2002 and '04 and reached the final in 2006 despite playing on the first day.
TURNING POINT: LSU freshman Anthony Randolph took over the game early in the second half; he finished with 22 points and eight rebounds. But after LSU cut the lead to 57-56, South Carolina recovered with a decisive 15-2 run for a 71-59 lead.
WHAT'S NEXT: : LSU is set to begin a coaching search. Pierre, an assistant at LSU for 11 years, has the support of his players, but the Tigers could look elsewhere. South Carolina has not played well against Tennessee this season, losing twice by a combined total of 47 points.
NOTES: Randolph is projected to be a high pick the NBA draft, but he has said he is 90 percent sure he will return to Baton Rouge. Randolph said his decision is not necessarily tied to Pierre's fate. "Coach P has been a great mentor," Randolph said. "It will affect my decision, but I love LSU. It's not just about one person." ? South Carolina scored 26 points off LSU's 19 turnovers. The Gamecocks committed just eight turnovers.
Video Highlights: South Carolina 77, LSU 74