Sidelines with John Clay

Conference tournaments: Jarred Vanderbilt, Michael Porter, Jr. and more links

Georgia's Yante Maten (1) looks to the basket as Vanderbilt’s Clevon Brown (15) defends during Georgia’s 78-62 win in an NCAA college basketball game at the Southeastern Conference tournament Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in St. Louis. Maten scored 25 points.
Georgia's Yante Maten (1) looks to the basket as Vanderbilt’s Clevon Brown (15) defends during Georgia’s 78-62 win in an NCAA college basketball game at the Southeastern Conference tournament Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in St. Louis. Maten scored 25 points. Associated Press

Thursday news and links:

Jarred Vanderbilt’s status clouds start of SEC Tournament

▪ The big breaking news Wednesday involved Kentucky freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt, who suffered an unspecified injury which has rendered his status day-to-day for the SEC Tournament. Vanderbilt’s father told the Herald-Leader’s Ben Roberts that the injury was not serious and had nothing to do with the pre-season foot injury that postponed Vanderbilt’s collegiate debut until late January.

▪ Vanderbilt appeared to be walking fine when he was spotted in the lobby of the team hotel on Wednesday.

▪  John Calipari is not a fan of conference tournaments, but there are several reasons why the SEC hold its annual get-together. Start with cold, hard cash. The tournament is a money-maker for the league office. “That would be a factor, and maybe the primary factor,” said retired NCAA executive Tom Jernstedt.

▪ My column says that this is actually a very wide-open SEC Tournament with plenty of reasons to pick or not to pick several of the top teams.

▪ Click here for conference tournament brackets in a Google Doc.

Missouri welcomes back Michael Porter, Jr.

▪ Considered the nation’s No. 1 prospect for the Class of 2018, Missouri’s Michael Porter, Jr. is expected to play in the SEC Tourney when Mizzou begins play Thursday. Porter played two minutes early in the season before injuring his back. He has not played in a game since undergoing surgery, but has practiced with the Tigers.

▪ Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star writes about what Porter’s return means now and could mean soon for the Tigers. “The possibilities are endless,” said Mizzou guard Kassius Robertson.

▪ Missouri will play Georgia, which beat Vanderbilt 78-62 on Wednesday night. The Bulldogs got 25 points from SEC Player of the Year Yante Maten. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt missed its first nine three-point attempts. The Georgia-Missouri winner will play Kentucky on Friday.

▪ South Carolina slipped past Ole Miss 85-84 in the SEC’s second first-round game on Wednesday night. Chris Silva scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Gamecocks, who will play Arkansas on Thursday night.

▪ Needing a win in the worst way, Alabama opens Thursday’s SEC Tournament action against Texas A&M. It’s the last chance for Avery Johnson’s young team to grow up. Alabama lost its final five games of the season.

▪ Mississippi State is in a similar boat. The Bulldogs need a win over LSU on Thursday to help their chances of making the NCAA Tournament. Sensing mental fatigue, MSU coach Ben Howland gave his team two days off before prepping for the trip to St. Louis.

Louisville earns a rematch with Virginia

▪ Louisville led by as many as 26 before beating Florida State 82-74 in the ACC Tournament on Wednesday. Quentin Snider scored 19 points, dished six assists and did not commit a turnover for the Cardinals, who play No. 1-ranked Virginia at noon on Thursday. It was just a week ago that Virginia banked in a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat U of L 66-64 in Louisville.

▪ Louisville defeated its doubts, writes Eric Crawford of WDRB. The Cardinals say they have learned how to finish games, but can they finish against the top-ranked Cavaliers? And do they need to beat Virginia to secure an NCAA bid?

More ACC Tournament news

▪ Woody Durham, long-time voice of the North Carolina Tar Heels has passed away at age 76. Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer writes on Durham’s legacy. “There is magic in a voice with a good story to tell,” writes Scott.

▪ North Carolina advanced in the ACC Tournament, beating Syracuse for the seventh straight time. Theo Pinson scored 16 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished six assists in the 78-59 victory. No. 6 seed Carolina takes on No. 3 Miami on Thursday night.

▪  North Carolina State was bounced from Brooklyn, losing 91-87 to No. 12 seed Boston College in the ACC Tournament. BC shot 50.7 percent and averaged 1.23 points per possession in knocking off the Wolfpack.

▪  Notre Dame rallied to shock Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament on Wednesday night. With Bonzie Colson back, the Irish provide an interesting decision for the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee on Sunday. Mike Brey’s team plays No. 2 seed Duke on Thursday.

Kansas without center for Big 12 Tournament

▪ Top seed Kansas will be without center Udoka Azubuike for the Big 12 Tournament. Azubuike has a sprained knee. Kansas plays Oklahoma State on Thursday afternoon. Oklahoma State knocked out Trae Young and Oklahoma on Wednesday.

▪ Dennis Dodd of cbssports.com writes that Oklahoma doesn’t deserve an NCAA Tournament bid. The Sooners lost eight of their last 10 and 10 of their last 14. Trae Young was seven-of-21 from the floor for 22 points in the loss to Oklahoma State.

▪  Texas kept its NCAA Tourney hopes alive with a 68-64 win over Iowa State in the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. The Longhorns play No. 2 seed Texas Tech on Thursday.

Ex-Cats news

▪ Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes that the Hornets need to find out what they have in first-round draft pick Malik Monk, the former Ketnucky guard. Monk had played all of 74 minutes from Jan. 11 until Tuesday.

▪  Anthony Davis suffered an ankle sprain late in the third quarter of New Orleans’ 10th straight win on Wednesday night. The Pelicans beat Sacramento 114-101. The team reported x-rays of Davis’ ankle were negative.

You can’t win them all

▪ Kentucky baseball’s win streak ends at eight with an 8-6 loss to Northern Kentucky on Wednesday night. The Cats dropped to 12-2. Northern Kentucky improved to 3-9. Temperatures for the game at Cliff Hagan Stadium hovered in the 30s throughout the game.

SEC Tournament schedule

All times ET

1:00 - Alabama vs. Texas A&M (SEC)

3:00 - Georgia vs. Missouri (SEC)

7:00 - Mississippi State vs. LSU (SEC)

9:00 - South Carolina vs. Arkansas (SEC)

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