SEC opening surprise


We’re finally seeing some basketball here in the Georgia Dome with LSU and South Carolina opening up the SEC Tournament. The energy in the building is overwhelming. Not.

Unless one of the two bands is playing you can hear crickets chirping. Seriously, everything Dave Odom is saying to his team while the ball is in play can be heard by anybody in the arena. The two teams can’t have a combined 100 fans here.

But the basketball is actually pretty entertaining.

* Two things of note ” Kevin Stallings plea to do away with divisional play isn’t going anywhere and we’re not far away from the league making a decision on future TV.

Stallings talked on Wednesday about the injustice of his team having to play Thursday despite having the fourth best record. But according to league spokesman Charles Bloom that has never been discussed by the league’s presidents or athletic directors and likely will not be in the future unless a formal proposal is made.

Bloom also said that this summer or early fall the SEC will decide whether to go forward with its own television network, sign a deal similar to the current one with Raycom, which will handle regional broadcasts for another academic year or sign with another network.

“There are a lot of options out there,” Bloom said.

* South Carolina up 27-19 and whomever inherits either of these teams is getting some talented players. USC’s Mike Holmes, a freshman, has really blossomed into a solid power forward, but the next coach needs to get more of an inside presence. LSU, which came in 5-4 since John Brady was canned, could return all five starters (although the word is Anthony Randolph could be a top 10 NBA pick and is gone) plus get Tasmin Mitchell back.

Anthony Grant will have some choice to make.

* Marcus Thornton of LSU gets hot when his team needs him, hitting a pair of 3s. LSU trailed by 10 at one point but it’s 37-34 Gamecocks at the half. South Carolina can’t buy a basket in the first four minutes of the second half and LSU takes the lead. Evaldas Baliulis has already missed three from outside the arc in the half. USC is 3-of-16 on 3s. If you rely on the triples in a spacious arena, it doesn’t always work out.

* But here come the Gamecocks, suddenly making everything and LSU can’t hit anything. Devan Downey gets on a roll and LSU looks like the team that played the first half of the SEC season. USC is up 11.

* Florida may not repeat as SEC Tournament champion, but the LSU dance girls have successfully defended their unofficial title (according to the media).

* So the speculation was that LSU might be good enough to cause some troubles for top-seeded Tennessee in the second round. We’ll never know. South Carolina finishes off the Tigers 77-73 and will face the Vols. Dave Odom lives to see another day. But just barely. The Gamecocks try to fritter away an 11-point lead in the last minute. Can it be considered an upset when LSU was only a one-point favorite?�1/2