John Clay: A long day of SEC basketball, whether you liked it or not

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistFebruary 24, 2013 

Bonus basketball.

It might not have been great basketball. This was Southeastern Conference basketball after all, a league bashed since the season's first bounce, a league that some experts predict could get one NCAA Tournament bid.

If you were an SEC fan, however, Saturday brought bonus basketball, and plenty of it.

Tennessee beat Texas A&M in four overtimes. LSU beat Alabama in three overtimes. Georgia needed an extra period to beat South Carolina. And, of course, Kentucky registered a key win over Missouri with an overtime period at Rupp Arena.

Some tidbits from a special Saturday:

■ It took 60 minutes of game clock and three hours of real time for Tennessee to finally outlast the Aggies, but the Vols had enough energy to dance in the locker room.

Coach Cuonzo Martin described a post-game scene that including yelling, hugging, music blasting from speakers, and dancing all around.

"It was a good time," said Martin after the 93-85 win, which was (a) the longest game in UT basketball history, and (b) the fifth straight win for the Vols.

■ Elston Turner reset his own Reed Arena scoring record Saturday, but it wasn't enough. The same Turner who scored 40 points in Rupp Arena against Kentucky and 37 against Ole Miss on Feb. 13 scored 38 points on Saturday. Turner scored 27 in regulation, then 11 more in the four overtimes. He played 58 of the game's 60 minutes.

■ Nine players logged more than 50 minutes in the Tennessee-Texas A&M game.

■ LSU's three-overtime win over Alabama was the longest game ever played in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, which opened in 1972.

■ Trevor Releford scored a career-high 36 points for Alabama, but there was one problem. Releford did not score a point the final seven minutes of regulation, when the Crimson Tide lost a 69-59 lead with 3:37 remaining.

■ LSU guard and former Kentucky Mr. Basketball Anthony Hickey was benched for more than nine minutes in the second half because Coach Johnny Johnes did not think the point guard was being aggressive enough.

When Hickey returned, he made some key plays for the Tigers down the stretch.

■ Beware. Not only did Florida handle Arkansas 71-54 Saturday night in Gainesville, but injured Gator Will Yeguete participated in pre-game warm-ups.

Out with a knee injury, Yeguete isn't ready for game action yet, Coach Billy Donovan said. It can't be that far away, however.

■ South Carolina had not one, but two chances to beat Georgia in regulation on Saturday.

After Bruce Ellington missed a three-pointer, apparently sending the game into overtime, the officials ruled that there was a clock problem and the Gamecocks would get another try. They missed again, and Georgia won in overtime.

Bulldogs Coach Mark Fox compared the situation to the 1972 Olympics when the Soviet Union got multiple chances at the end of the game, supposedly because of clock malfunctions, and beat the U.S. for the gold medal.

■ After Marshall Henderson missed 13 of 17 shots in Ole Miss' loss at South Carolina, Andy Kennedy decided to bring his high-strung shooting guard off the bench Saturday.

Henderson responded by tying a school record with eight three-pointers, and Mississippi mauled Auburn, 88-55.

■ Then there's Mississippi State, which shot 17.5 percent and scored all of 31 points in its 41-point loss to visiting Vanderbilt. It was the Bulldogs' fourth loss by 30 or more points in Humphrey Coliseum this season.

MSU visits Rupp Arena on Wednesday.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: jclay@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: Johnclay.bloginky.com.

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