Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links: Kentucky basketball’s Marcus Lee excels at giving back

Kentucky Wildcats guard Charles Matthews (4) and Kentucky Wildcats forward Marcus Lee (0) battled Florida Gators forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) for a rebound as the University of Kentucky played the University of Florida at the O'Connell Center, Gainesville, Fl., Tuesday, March 1, 2016.
Kentucky Wildcats guard Charles Matthews (4) and Kentucky Wildcats forward Marcus Lee (0) battled Florida Gators forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) for a rebound as the University of Kentucky played the University of Florida at the O'Connell Center, Gainesville, Fl., Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Lexington Herald-Leader

Big Blue Links for Friday:

Kentucky’s Marcus Lee leaving his mark on community, writes Jason King of Bleacher Report. “ Shortly after Kentucky's Marcus Lee threw down a dunk and swished a free throw in last month's win at South Carolina, a 10-year-old boy sat up in his hospital bed 420 miles away and posed for a picture. Kelly Melton, who has leukemia, became Lee's biggest fan after the Wildcats junior first visited him in the hospital nearly two years ago. Now, whenever Lee has a memorable moment in a game, Melton is quick to express his excitement on social media.”

Obasohan gets plenty of help as Alabama beats Ole Miss, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. “Alabama Coach Avery Johnson had been looking for a second scorer to lighten the load on guard Retin Obasohan, who made the all-league and all-defensive teams this season. Oh, and he also was the Southeastern Conference’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Thursday night’s 81-73 victory over Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament brought Alabama not only a second, but a third and fourth scorers.”

Tide overcomes poor start to beat Ole Miss, reports Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News. “The Crimson Tide trailed 10-3 when Obasohan left the game at the 16:53 mark of the first half. But the 3-point shooting of Riley Norris and Justin Coleman ignited a 23-9 run and gave Alabama a lead that was threatened but never overtaken despite Moody's record-tying shooting display.”

John Calipari believes UK is starting the SEC Tournament with a “big team,” says my story from Nashville. UK opens play Friday at 7 p.m. ET against Alabama. “What we have for the first time, and no one has talked about this is, I have a full team,” Calipari said.

Tennessee’s win over Vanderbilt was worth the wait, reports Mike Strange of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “We all know the shot didn't count, that it was a fraction of a tick late. We know Tennessee beat Vanderbilt 67-65 and, improbably, will be back at Bridgestone Arena on Friday to play LSU in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament. We know that now. But Thursday afternoon for several agonizing minutes, nobody was sure.”

Inexcusable loss puts Vandy’s hopes in peril, writes Zac Ellis of “Now the Commodores, who looked the part of an SEC title contender in the preseason, find themselves sweating ahead of Selection Sunday. Vanderbilt simply needed to avoid an embarrassing exit in the SEC tournament to remove doubt about its postseason plans. Instead, coach Kevin Stallings’s program laid a black-and-gold egg at the worst possible time, a performance that might end up spoiling Vanderbilt’s shot at the Big Dance.”

Georgia advances with win over Mississippi State, reports Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph. “(J.J.) Frazier was once again the catalyst for Georgia, shooting the deep 3 and driving to create his own looks. He finished with 28 points on 8-of-17 shooting. He also made all eight of his free-throw attempts. He did have his leg looked at during the second half but was able to return and finish the game.”

Florida survives, advances past Arkansas, reports Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun. “Now comes the harder part. Florida (19-13) will face rested and top-seed Texas A&M in Friday's SEC Tournament quarterfinals (1 p.m. SEC Network). A win against the No.17 Aggies (24-7), the co-SEC champions, could get Florida back on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble. Florida lost 71-68 in its lone game against Texas A&M in College Station on Jan. 12. Sophomore point guard Chris Chiozza had a chance to tie the game at the end of regulation, but his open 3-point attempt carromed off the front rim as the buzzer sounded.”

Kings suspend DeMarcus Cousins for one game, reports Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. “Yell at George Karl once and get your hand slapped. Yell at the Kings’ coach a second time and get slapped with a costly one-game suspension. The Kings on Thursday suspended All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins for one game for what team general manager Vlade Divac called ‘conduct detrimental to the team,’ making Cousins unavailable Friday against the Orlando Magic at Sleep Train Arena.”

New UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran talks about second day of practice, reports Jennifer Smith of Herald-Leader. “On the quarterback competition:It’s great. I love it. I love that we got Stephen (Johnson) to come in here at the semester. I think they’re all swimming a little bit as we go and you put stuff in, and we’re asking them to do a lot and we’re gonna continue to ask them to do a lot. Hopefully somewhere after we’ve hit the wall, that we can come back, start over, go back to install one and then you’ll see some more progression. That’s what’s gonna happen. That’s what usually happens when you install, but I love the way they’re competing right now against each other.’”

Devin Booker scores career high in loss to Denver, reports Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. “Booker followed up a 32-point game Wednesday night in Phoenix with a season-high 35 points, including a 16-point third quarter and a 25-point second half after seeing waves of Will Barton’s and Gary Harris’ defense in the first half. The 19-year-old rookie now has more 30-point games (four) than any NBA rookie this season. Booker already was the only player besides LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony to have at least three 30-point games as a teenager.”


All times ET


8:00 - No. 12 Tennessee 97, No. 13 Auburn 59


1:00 - No. 8 Florida 69, No. 9 Arkansas 61

2:30 - No. 12 Tennessee 67, No. 5 Vanderbilt 65

7:00 - No. 10 Alabama 81, No. 7 Ole Miss 73

9:30 - No. 6 Georgia 79, No. 11 Mississippi State 69


1:00 - No. 8 Florida vs. No. 1 Texas A&M (SEC)

2:30 - No. 12 Tennessee vs. No. 4 LSU (SEC)

7:00 - No. 10 Alabama vs. No. 2 Kentucky (SEC)

9:30 - No. 6 Georgia vs. No. 3 South Carolina (SEC)


1:00 - First semifinal (ESPN)

2:30 - Second semifinal (ESPN)


1:00 - Championship game (ESPN)

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