Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links: Travis Ford about to lose his job at Oklahoma State?

Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford listens to a question during the Big 12 basketball media day Thursday in Kansas City, Mo.
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford listens to a question during the Big 12 basketball media day Thursday in Kansas City, Mo. The Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Tuesday:

Travis Ford’s difficult job won’t be his much longer, writes Barry Tramel of the Oklahoman. “The Travis Ford era surely comes to a merciful end this week in the Big 12 Tournament. For a moment, forget the auxiliary issues of Ford’s 10-year contract and the fans’ abandonment of Gallagher-Iba. Simply look at Ford’s résumé. Eight years, 55-65 conference record, one NCAA Tournament victory (seven years ago), one season with an upper-division finish. In 2013, Marcus Smart’s freshman year, OSU went 13-5 in the Big 12 and secured the No. 3 seed in Kansas City.”

Kentucky’s pieces falling into place, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. “If Kentucky’s front line can play with any consistency and play well, Kentucky can win it all,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “But when their front line gets outplayed, that’s when they’ve gotten beat. Because their backcourt has rarely been outplayed all year long.”

Should UK fans want Cats to finish second in SEC Tourney? asks Mark Story of the Herald-Leader. “Root for Cats to be SEC tourney runner-up? Kentucky has won three NCAA titles since 1979. Only one of those teams, Tubby Smith’s 1998 Cats, also won the SEC Tournament. Rick Pitino’s 1996 NCAA champs and John Calipari’s 2012 national title winners were SEC tourney runners-up. For that matter, so, too, was Calipari’s 2014 NCAA runner-up.”

UK basketball assistant talks about recruits, reports Ben Roberts of Herald-Leader. “UK special assistant to the head coach Joel Justus was the guest on This is Kentucky Basketball over the weekend, and he spoke about each of the Wildcats’ highly touted signees in the recruiting class of 2016. Justus, a former high school basketball coach, helps UK with scouting and some aspects of recruiting, among other duties, and he relayed the coaching staff’s excitement over the next crop of five-star recruits.”

Peyton Manning was just as good as his farewell, writes John Adams of the Knoxville News Sentinel. “Peyton Manning delivered a speech worthy of his football career Monday. And no one should have been surprised that the former Tennessee quarterback was as good at saying goodbye to a game he loved as he was at playing it. Few athletes could have matched Manning’s farewell address that ESPN televised live. It was poignant, purposeful and all-encompassing.”

Farewell to Peyton Manning, quarterback, gamesman, writes Chris B. Brown of Smart Football. “Peyton Manning announced that he has played his last down of football, and it’s a sad day for any football fan, particularly this one. It’s also simply difficult to fathom a football season that doesn’t include him: His NFL career spanned an incredible eighteen seasons, which, when combined with his four seasons as a starter at Tennessee, means he’s been the starting QB of a major college or NFL team for the last twenty two years; it’s been a very long time since we’ve had football without Peyton Manning’s exploits to marvel at.”

Stefan Moody poses challenge for Alabama, reports Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News. “If timing counts for anything, the University of Alabama basketball team can’t catch a break when it comes to playing Ole Miss. The Crimson Tide opened SEC play against the Rebels in January, serving as the opponent in Ole Miss’ first game at the Pavilion, the new basketball arena on the Ole Miss campus. UA led that game 40-32 at the half, but could not hold on as Ole Miss, led by Stefan Moody (21 points) and Sebastian Saiz (21 points and 16 rebounds), rallied for a 72-64 win.

Picks and predictions for conference tournament season, from Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports. “Skal Labissiere (4) and Jamal Murray (5) of Kentucky. Skal was Rivals.com’s No. 1 recruit, and he was a raging disappointment all year – until last week. Now he could be John Calipari’s latest March makeover player. The rail-thin 7-footer averaged 14.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in victories over Florida and LSU, playing off point guard Tyler Ulis as an effective pick-and-pop jump-shooter from 15 to 18 feet. For a team that has been desperate for frontcourt production, Skal’s sudden signs of life greatly enhance Kentucky’s Final Four chances.”

Kentucky picks up a new football commitment, reports Roberts of the H-L. “Jamin Davis became UK’s ninth football commitment for the class of 2017 on Monday. Davis — a 6-foot-3, 205-pound prospect from Ludowici, Ga. — attended the Wildcats’ junior day event Saturday and earned a scholarship offer. UK was the first major program to extend an offer, and the coaching staff is currently recruiting him as an outside linebacker.”

SEC MEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT PAIRINGS

All times ET

Wednesday

8:00 - No. 12 Tennessee vs. No. 13 Auburn (SEC)

Thursday

1:00 - No. 8 Florida vs. No. 9 Arkansas (SEC)

2:30 - Wednesday winner vs. No. 5 Vanderbilt (SEC)

7:00 - No. 7 Ole Miss vs. No. 10 Alabama (SEC)

9:30 - No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 11 Mississippi State (SEC)

Friday

1:00 - Florida-Arkansas winner vs. No. 1 Texas A&M (SEC)

2:30 - Tennessee, Auburn or Vanderbilt vs. No. 4 LSU (SEC)

7:00 - Ole Miss-Alabama winner vs. Kentucky (SEC)

9:30 - Georgia-Mississippi State winner vs. South Carolina (SEC)

Saturday

1:00 - First semifinal (ESPN)

2:30 - Second semifinal (ESPN)

Sunday

1:00 - Championship game (ESPN)

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