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Tennessee def. Auburn, 94-85 (SEC Tournament)

Hey everyone. I am located in drizzly Montgomery, Ala., for this epic battle between your Auburn Tigers and the Volunteers of Tennessee. Loser leaves town. Winner faces Mississippi State tomorrow for The Big Game.

Why am I in Montgomery?
In short: My newspaper doesn't have a lot of money right now and a trip wasn't financially feasible.

OK. On with the show ...

    Tennessee 94, Auburn 85.

  • FOURTH TO @ 3:30-ish, 2nd half
    Tennessee leads, 79-71. Same stuff. Tennessee has so many second-chance points. Better hustle = better game. Simple.

  • THIRD TO @ 6:48, 2nd half
    Tennessee leads, 72-62. Auburn's offense seems fine to me, but Tennessee keeps getting second chance on its ends. That's the product of superior hustle in my book.

  • SECOND TO @ 11:00-ish, 2nd half
    Tennessee leads, 65-57. I'm surprised this is an 8-point game. Auburn is being outplayed in most facets right now, but the Volunteers haven't been able to levy the knockout punch just yet. The Tigers still have a decent chance here.

  • FIRST TO @ 15:00-ish, 2nd half
    Tennessee leads, 55-47.

    Tennessee 47, Auburn 36. The Volunteers are getting freaky breaks right now. I just watched a possession where UT committed two turnovers, traveled twice (both on hop steps) and still scored. That was the most funky possession I've seen all year.

  • FOURTH TO @ 3:07, 1st half
    Tennessee leads, 40-29. Wayne Chism, the UT forward, already has 16 points. Might it be time for a strategic adjustment from the Tigers' head coach? We shall see.

  • THIRD TO @ 7:30-ish, 1st half
    Tennessee leads, 30-22. More sloppiness from the Tigers. Tennessee also has been more accurate from three-point range than expected. They're 5-of-10 at this point.

  • SECOND TO @ 11:57, 1st half
    Auburn leads, 16-15. The Tigers are sloppifying. Five turnovers already. Aside from the early dunks, though, Tennessee hasn't had much in the way of good shots.

  • FIRST TO @ 15:00-ish, 1st half
    Auburn leads, 12-10. The Tigers are passing very well today. They can't go body-on-body with the Vols because they're so much bigger, but Auburn can play the steal-and-run game. It's working right now.

    PG -- Speed Reed
    SG -- Quantez Robertson, boyfriend of Sherell Hobbs
    SF -- Tay Waller, shooter
    "PF" -- Rasheem Barrett, jump shooter
    F/C -- Korvotney Barber, "dubs"

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Questions? Comments? Post directly to the blog below or email me at

Setting the table

Post No. 1,115

Hey everyone. Thanks so much to all the HOTTIES for outstanding individual performances last night. I wasn't able to do much with the blog due to other professional obligations, but you all blogged the heck out of that basketball game.

Scottie B. turned in an ace-like performance at the ballpark as well.

I am "off" today, though, so I'll be available to blog today's SEC semifinal. In fact, we could live-chat it if we choose because the SEC's regulations don't apply to me now. I'm not at the arena and, therefore, not beholden to their rules.

Your Auburn Tigers play the Volunteers from University of Tennessee beginning around 2:15 p.m. CDT.

Be there or be rectangular.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Auburn def. Florida, 61-58 (@ SEC Tournament)

Hey everyone. As you may or may not know, I am not in Tampa due to budgetary constraints.

I also am not available to live blog because I'm taking high-school scores at Advertiser headquarters. This one is up to you until further notice.
  • Auburn wins, 61-58.

  • Florida leads at halftime, 29-28.

  • Auburn ended the first half on an 11-4 run.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Scottie B. tunes in from Knoxville

Hey everyone. One of our RoF superstars, Scottie B., is in Knoxville attending the Auburn-Tennessee baseball game.

Here are his dispatches (in reverse chronological order):

  • Auburn has won the game, 4-2. Team now has won 10 games in a row

  • Top of the 9th AU still leads 4-0. The rain has increased and the temp has dropped.

  • Top of 7 still 4-0 AU. Weather not too cold. Light sprinkles.

  • (Joseph) Sanders with a solo HR. AU up 4-0 in middle of 5th. Sweet. Crowd is sparse. Maybe 60 or so AU fans/family. I'm guessing 350 or so in a ...

  • Hunter Morris with a solo HR in the top of the 4th. 3 zip good guys.

  • Ben Jones drove in a runner from 2nd. Hw was caught in a rundown at first. AU up 2-0.

  • Hooters delayed us. Yum yum. Tigers up 1-0 top of 3rd.

So what will we do today?

Hey everyone. It's another warm, overcast day in lower Alabama. I'm good with that. I wonder what it's like in Tampa?

LSU has just defeated Kentucky in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals. That rush of wind you hear are the UK fans exiting the St. Pete Times Forum for the last time this year. If you thought the stands were desolate before, just wait.

AUBURN HOOPS: The Tigers (21-10) play Florida tonight at approximately 8:30 CDT. Auburn is in dire need of at least a modest run here to enhance its resume. I don't think the team has yet to accomplish enough to earn an NCAA bid.

I'll be here as often as I can during the game. We'll start a new thread.

(FYI: The tournament is being broadcast on Dish Network in HD on channel 443.)

AUBURN BASEBALL: The Tigers (11-4) open SEC play this weekend at Tennessee. We're hoping that Scottie B., a Knoxville resident, will be on hand to provide the real story from the Volunteer State.

Auburn enters the series with the second-most home runs in the nation with 33. Two of the Tigers, sophomore outfielder Trent Mummey (aka "Mums") and junior infielder Joseph Sanders, rank among the nation’s top home run hitters. Mums has eight; Sanders has seven.

Tonight's game starts at 6 p.m.

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Brad Lester speaks

Hey everyone. As part of our continuing coverage of Auburn's Pro Day festivities, let's take a gander at tailback Brad Lester.

(He's a man so fast my camera can't catch him.)

Height: 5-9
Weight: 190
40 time: 4.48 sec
Vertical: 38.5 inches
Broad jump: 10-foot-4
Bench press: 18 reps of 225 pounds

I thought he looked pretty good at the event. He's clearly in shape and focused on marketing himself. That's a change, at least in my mind, because I didn't think he played very hard last season. Injuries were an issue. Still, Lester's poor senior season went beyond physical problems.

He seemed listless to me during the season's second half. I didn't get that sense Thursday.

Here's what he had to say:

On a surprising weight-lifting performance: ``Actually, when I was working out all offseason on it, I was getting like 22, 23. I guess since we did it at the end of workouts today it was hard to get as many, but it was still a good amount."

On people watching him so closely at the event: ``For a lot of guys it’s tough but I came in with the mindset that once I start my drills, block everybody out and just focus on myself and just do the best that I can."

On being anxious: ``I was really nervous. I actually threw up like two or three times before I got here. I was pretty nervous but once I got started and ran my 40, I was alright."

On not being an anxious person by nature: ``It actually surprised me. I couldn’t sleep most of last night and then woke up throwing up this morning. I was surprised myself, but I still came out and performed well and that’s all that mattered."

On how important Pro Day was for him: ``That’s why it was so important and I guess it’s why I was so nervous because I knew how much today could help me potentially get drafted."

On his performance: ``Yeah, I feel like I did pretty well and set myself with a chance to get drafted by somebody."

On his 40 time: ``I felt very comfortable. I used the techniques that I was taught all offseason and I thought today was very productive overall."

On if he'll be drafted: ``I’m pretty confident I will. If I don’t, it’s just going to motivate me to work harder as a free agent and try to get on somebody’s team in mini-camp. But I’m hoping to be drafted."

On where he's working out: ``I was in Atlanta, but I moved up to New Jersey with Joe DeFranco. It’s me, (USC linebacker) Brian Cushing and Tony Fiametta, the fullback from Syracuse. We’re all working together."

All we have are the embers

Thanks to everyone who attended our little Campfire on Wednesday night. We had 195 total participants during the two-hour enterprise.

Topics included: Barrett Trotter, Dontae Aycock, jhag's alleged homework, my skanky ex-girlfriends, Nodoro, chicken nachos at Corky's in Memphis, the NIT, the NCAAs, Starland Vocal Band, everyone's age, Nick Saban, short people, people who wear straw hats, cult of personality vs. delusions of grandeur.

Notable participants were: wifey, MonD, The Front Rims, DMiller, jhag, Kristina, Zimas4Ziemba, FSJ, DennyCrum, WDEwg.

Clarification: Z4Z will not be elected into the next RoF class.

The Banhammered: vizslawinston (being annoying), Sparkles (annoying), IsaacVasquez (needs attention)

Gandy giving it another shot

Hey everyone. Thanks for taking time yesterday to monitor Pro Day and the Cap City Classic here at the HABOTN. Our numbers are above what I'd expect this time of year, so BIG UP to all the HOTTIES.

One of the peripheral (but intriguing) stories from Pro Day was the re-appearance of Steve Gandy. Many of you remember him as a powerful safety-turned-linebacker who "retired" in August 2007 after suffering a third college concussion.

He suffered several similar injuries in high school. After the dizziness and irritability didn't subside in August 2007, Gandy elected to walk away from football. Two years later, though, he's trying to earn a professional contract.

Here's what he had to say Wednesday ...

On where he wants to play: "I think safety is my spot. It's a better spot than linebacker. I'm too small to play linebacker. I don't like to have regrets, but if I could go back, I wouldn't have moved to linebacker. I feel like I can make a difference at safety."

On his health: "I've been playing ball since I was five. Sometimes, your body gets to a point where it needs a break. I feel like the same Steve Gandy who came here in 2004 ready to go. Hopefully I can get some pads on soon and see where I'm really at."

On if doctors advised him to walk away for good in 2007: "When I decided to quit football, it wasn't that they wouldn't let me play. I was just trying to do what was best for me. I decided to go back and give it one more shot and let God guide me."

On his Pro Day performance: "I did pretty well. I could have done better. I performed last week at the CFL combine and I had better numbers there and stuff. That's disappointing. This is just one day. I felt good, so that's all that matters."

GANDY'S NUMBERS FROM PRO DAY (comparing him to LB Merrill Johnson and CB Jerraud Powers)

*40-yard dash, seconds
Gandy -- 4.65
Johnson -- 4.60
Powers -- 4.44

*Vertical, inches
Gandy -- 31.5
Johnson -- 40.0
Powers -- 35.0

*Broad jump, feet-inches
Gandy -- 9-6
Johnson -- 10-5
Powers -- 10-3

*Bench, number of 225-lb reps
Gandy -- 14
Johnson -- 17
*(LB Chris Evans) -- 14

*=Powers didn't participate in the bench press drill.

Auburn wins MAX Capital City Classic, 8-7

Hey everyone. Welcome to Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Ala., where Auburn and Alabama are engaged in a baseball game.

This is a large crowd. I'd say it's in the 7,000 range.

Auburn 8
Alabama 7

  • AUBURN FIRST: Brian Fletcher knocks a double off the wall in deep center, taking full advantage of a bases-loaded situation.

  • Alabama first: Not much going on.

  • AUBURN SECOND: Trent Mummey hits a solo ding-dong.

  • Alabama second: Not much going on.

  • AUBURN THIRD: Not much going on.

  • Alabama third: Kent Matthes hits a three-run dong to centerfield. It was a 2-2 fastball, chest-high. Probably not the best pitch ever ... from a pitcher's perspective.

  • AUBURN FOURTH: Auburn scores one on a pass ball. Another run scored on a sac by Justin Hargett.

  • Alabama fourth: Not much going on.

  • AUBURN FIFTH: Not much going on.

  • Alabama fifth: Bases loaded, but reliever Michael Hurst managed to escape disaster.

  • AUBURN SIXTH: Not much going on.

  • Alabama sixth: Not much going on.

  • AUBURN SEVENTH: Not much going on.

  • Alabama seventh: Not much going on.

  • AUBURN EIGHTH: Not much going on.

  • Alabama eighth: Vin DiFazio just doubled off the wall in center, drove home a run. Taylor Dugas just doubled in another run. Jake Smith then hits a two-run dong. That's four for the Tide.

  • AUBURN NINTH: Casey McElroy leads off with a triple ... and promptly is lifted for a pinch runner. He's the only shortstop on the roster. Justin Hargett drives home the run with a sac fly. Ben Jones drove in the go-ahead run with a double into left field. Auburn scored twice.

  • Alabama ninth: Not much going on.

Pro Day video

In this spot once upon a time was a video showing several players working out at Pro Day. Jerraud Powers concluded with a short interview. I thought the production quality was excellent.

I have disabled the auto-play stuff, but the video will wait for you somewhere in the Gannett abyss.


Auburn Pro Day

Hey everyone. I'm headed out the door to Auburn's Pro Day festivities at the Athletic Complex momentarily. My goal is to provide frequent updates from the fields, post pictures and produce an afternoon video for your enjoyment.

We also have the Capital City Classic (Auburn v. Alabama baseball) going tonight, so I'll be blogging from there as well.


Guys who have stood out so far:

*Merrill Johnson had a 40" vertical. That's an outstanding number. Jerraud Powers, by comparison, posted a 35". James Swinton led the way with a 42" jump.

*Tez Doolittle led the bench press drill. He pushed 225 pounds on 22 distinct presses. That's pretty impressive. Johnson and Brad Lester, believe it or not, finished second with 18 apiece. Former Auburn defensive lineman Pat Sims me "pound for pound, Brad Lester is the strongest guy at Auburn."

*Doolittle ran a 4.9 in the 40. He also jumped 39.5. He looks like a serious athlete now and I wouldn't be surprised to see him selected during the second half of the draft.

*It was a difficult day for Sen'Derrick Marks. He injured a hamstring at the NFL Combine and it's clear that the problem hasn't abated. He struggled through a serious of agility drills and finished only 14 reps on the bench press drill.

*Swinton put up a 4.3s during the 40-yard dash. Jerraud Powers was a few hundredths over 4.4. They don't post times on a board or anything, so I have to get my information third hand in a sense.

*Tristan Davis had the fastest 40 time: low 4.3s.

Here is Jerraud Powers, dressed in his NFL Combine jersey, attempting to improve on his first high jump.

Here is Tez Doolittle, looking remarkably cut and strong, making his first attempt at the broad jump. His best jump was in the 8-foot range.

Here is Merrill Johnson warming up before the bench press drill. It's not how much you can push; it's how many times you can push 215. Johnson hit it 17 times.

Here is Tez Doolittle. You can see ... his gut is almost enirely gone and his arms look like something out of a magazine. He has been quite impressive today.

Here is former quarterback Brandon Cox and Tyronne Green enjoying a laugh Tuesday. Cox, a 2007 Auburn graduate, was hanging around to provide support ... and pass to his former teammates during the outside drills.

Here is coach Gene Chizik talking with former players Pat Sims (center) and Pat Lee (right.)

Here's Pat Sims (left) and former Auburn player Marcus McNeill watching the proceedings. McNeill recently finished his third season with the San Diego Chargers. Sims is with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Looking ahead

Hey everyone. Well, I'm somewhat tired after a semi-week in Little Rock, Ark. I'll be driving home throughout the day Monday and will be preparing for another great day of blogospheric magic on Tuesday.

That's PRO DAY for the football seniors (might there be a junior or two?) and the Capital City Classic, which pits Auburn vs. Alabama baseball at Riverwalk Stadium. That should be a fun day.

Thanks for everyone's interest and support throughout the women's tournament. I know it's a new area of (potential) interest to a lot of you. You've been awesome.

Before I leave, though, let me give you some reaction to the Vanderbilt loss:

On Vanderbilt's defense: "They smothered Alli all day. She is our best three-point shooter. They smothered DeWanna all day. We didn't get any nice looks. They did a good job of taking that away."

On Christina Wirth, who dropped 20 points on Auburn Sunday: "She played inspired basketball today. She was better today than I've seen on film and when we played them in Nashville."

On regrouping after this one: "We haven't lost very much this year, but it is disappointing. When the prize is as big as the one was today, it's even more disappointing. You know what? We understand what lies ahead and we have to take it and learn from it and use it as we move forward."

On why Vanderbilt is so effective: "They're efficient with their offense. They pound you and pound you. You think you've got them stopped and then at the end of the shot clock, they make a three. They're mechanical."

MELANIE BALCOMB, Vanderbilt head coach
On Auburn: "We know we can't play 'em straight up. They've got great players. You have to do different things to get them out of their flow on offense, disrupt their offense and limit touches to their shooters. They're the fastest team up and down the court in transition that I've ever coached against."

On which defenses she deployed Sunday: "We worked on about six. We used some triangle (and two) against them as well as some man and some ... I don't want to give out all our secrets. We've got games to play."

Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University

Vanderbilt def. Auburn, 61-54

Hey everyone. Let's get it started.

    Vanderbilt 61, Auburn 54.

  • FOURTH TO @ 2:34, 2nd half
    Vanderbilt leads, 55-50. Auburn has broken through offensively, but they keep losing Vandy shooters on designed three-point plays. It's bizarre. The shooters have half the court to themselves. That's the difference right now.

  • THIRD TO @ 7:08, 2nd half
    Vanderbilt leads, 49-41. It seems like Auburn is making advances to their offensive approach, but Christina Wirth keeps hitting shots. It's a wash right now.

  • SECOND TO @ 11:35, 2nd half
    Vanderbilt leads, 41-33. Auburn still is struggling to score. Fortner now is willing to use 6-foot-7 center KeKe Carrier to counteract Vanderbilt's miniature lineup. I haven't seen Carrier play well in years. Will this be the game she pulls her team from the abyss? Vanderbilt cannot stop her.

  • FIRST TO @ 16:36, 2nd half
    Vanderbilt leads, 34-29. Auburn is deflecting far more passes on defense now. If they can start grabbing rebounds and pushing the pace, they can win this game. That's a big if. I see a different air exuding from Boddie ... she seems prepared to beat somebody down.

    AUB -- 10-24 42%
    VAN -- 12-27 44%

    3 Shooting
    AUB -- 0-2 00%
    VAN -- 5-14 36%

    FT Shooting
    AUB -- 1-2 50%
    VAN -- 2-2 100%

    AUB -- 12 (2o, 10d)
    VAN -- 16 (4o, 12d)

    DeWanna Bonner: 2-4, 4 points, 3 reb
    Whitney Boddie: 0-5, 0 points, 6 ast, 1 turnover

    Vanderbilt leads, 31-21.

  • FOURTH TO @ 3:01, 1st half
    Vanderbilt leads, 24-20. The Commodores have turned this around on Auburn, pushing the tempo and getting some easy baskets in transition. Auburn, to me, seems impatient on offense. Vanderbilt is good with that zone. You have to be thoughtful about attacking it. I'm not seeing that in general right now.

  • THIRD TO @ 7:11, 1st half
    Auburn leads, 14-13. Vanderbilt's zone is somewhat unique. They like to trap along the perimeter. It's what Jeff Lebo used in that win against Arkansas a few weeks ago. Auburn is having a hard time with that. They badly need fast-break situations to get Vanderbilt's defense unraveled and dissociated.

  • SECOND TO @ 11:36, 1st half
    Auburn leads, 10-8. The Tigers certainly have slowed down. They're now in that jump-shot mode we saw in the first half against Tennessee yesterday. Not much away-from-the-ball motion. Not sure what's going on there. Vanderbilt is sitting in that zone and won't come out of it. This should be Smalley's chance to shine.

  • FIRST TO @ 15:19, 1st half
    Auburn leads, 6-0. Vanderbilt currently is 0-for-8 from the floor. Some of those shots have been open. It's just bad luck. Boddie is playing way too fast. You can tell she's amped up to be on ESPN2. Nell already has yelled at her a few times: "SLOW DOWN."

    PG -- Whitney Boddie, 44
    SG -- Alli Smalley, 5
    SF -- Sherell Hobbs, 12
    PF -- DeWanna Bonner, 24
    C -- Trevesha Jackson, 1

Prelude to a Championship

Hey everyone. I'm already on the scene from the SEC Tournament Final Showdown between Vanderbilt and your Auburn Tigers.

I wouldn't say there's much buzz in the arena. I counted 29 fans at 5:30 p.m.

AUBURN (29-2) vs. VANDERBILT (23-8)
*Vanderbilt has won 14 consecutive games in this series dating back to the 2001 season.

Sunday Round-up

Though we all know the women's team is playing The Big Game tonight, several other Auburn teams engaged in contests of skill Sunday.

BASEBALL: SS Casey McElroy's 11th-inning single to centerfield drove home the deciding run in Auburn's 10-9 win against Brown University. The victory consummated a four-game sweep for the Tigers. The team now is 9-4 and has won seven consecutive games.

SOFTBALL: Lauren Guzman drove in three runs, helping Auburn earn an 8-5 win against Ole Miss. That victory sealed a three-game weekend sweep. The team now is 20-6 overall and 3-0 in SEC play.

MEN'S TENNIS: Auburn earned a 4-1 win against Arkansas, providing a meaningful complement to the Tigers' victory against LSU on Friday. The team now is 7-2 overall and 2-0 in SEC play.

BONUS: Oaklawn Race Track

Post No. 1,101

Hey everyone. As less than 5% of you know, I love horse racing. I was born in Kentucky. I graduated from a pair of Kentucky universities. I like the place. Horse racing becomes a part of your life.

So that explains why I was so geeked about visiting Oaklawn Park on Saturday. It's a fairly nice track in Hot Springs, Ark., which is 45 minutes south of my hotel in Little Rock.

Here is photographic proof of my trip:

This is what the grandstand looks like from the track side. It's OK, I guess. I don't like being indoors when it's track time. That explains why I ...

... didn't like Oaklawn's indoor paddock. I've never seen anything like this. Also, as an aside, Oaklawn was LOADED with people on what I figured was Just Another Saturday. I was shocked. Where did all these people come from?

Here come the ponies past the grandstand for the first time!

We have a winner. Those front-running horses, of course, were not my picks in that race. That's why I have a camera in my hand ... and I'm not waving my tickets in the air.

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