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March 9, 2012
2012 SEC TOURNAMENT
Today-Sunday * New Orleans Arena * New Orleans
Game 1 -- (8) LSU 68, (9) Arkansas 54
Game 2 -- (5) Alabama 63, (12) South Carolina 57
Game 3 -- (7) Ole Miss 68, (10) Auburn 54
Game 4 -- (11) Georgia 71, (6) Mississippi State 61
Game 5 -- (8) LSU vs. (1) Kentucky, 1 p.m. (SEC Network)
Game 6 -- (5) Alabama vs. (4) Florida, 3:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
Game 7 -- (7) Ole Miss vs. (2) Tennessee, 7:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
Game 8 -- (11) Georgia vs. (3) Vanderbilt, 10 p.m. (SEC Network)
Game 9 -- Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 1 p.m. (ABC)
Game 10 -- Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
Championship -- Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 1 p.m. (ABC)
VIDEO: Anthony Gill
VIDEO: Damien Leonard
VIDEO: Damontre Harris
VIDEO: Brenton Williams
NEW ORLEANS - The question was hanging out there, just as it was last year.
Bruce Ellington answered it in a different, but similar, way.
"I still haven't made my decision yet," Ellington said after South Carolina's 63-57 season-ending loss to Alabama in the SEC tournament. "I've got to talk it over with the coaches and my mother. I haven't talked to anybody about that. I'm just going to take it as it comes, really."
The question was - all together, now - "Will you be playing football?"
Ellington's been facing the question since he returned to the basketball team in January, and saying then that he was thinking about just playing one (unspecified) sport in 2012-13. Playing two sports would take a toll on anybody, especially when they overlap - Ellington was playing basketball one night in January before rising at the crack of dawn the next day and flying to Orlando, Fla., so he could get ready for the Capital One Bowl.
Ellington said then that he was tired from the dual practices and such, but he still had good grades (a 3.1 grade-point average, he said). Yet he did drop the tantalizing comment that he was thinking of just playing one sport next year.
So, which one? If that comment still stands?
Ellington said he didn't know. His mother, Gwen Ellington, told GamecockCentral.com on Thursday that she didn't know. No one on the football or basketball teams seems to know.
Spring football practice begins on Tuesday. Since Ellington is on scholarship for football, it's assumed that he would need to be there.
But if he's planning on going back to basketball full-time, perhaps not.
Ellington was directly asked after last year's SEC tournament loss if he would be playing football, and he replied, "No. No, sir. No, I'm not." A week later, he announced he would be playing football, so anything that he might say this week may not be the gospel truth, even if USC does something with its basketball coaching situation.
Coach Darrin Horn, despite public support from USC's Board of Trustees, may be in jeopardy of losing his job after three straight losing seasons and no huge hope for significant change next year. While athletic director Eric Hyman is keeping mum until he can meet with Horn, the rumblings began long ago.
Ellington said that if that were to happen, it wouldn't play a part in his decision.
"No, sir, it wouldn't affect my choice," he said.
COOKIE: Thursday was the final game for Malik Cooke, the Gamecocks' lone senior. He finished with six points and a rebound.
"A lot of mixed emotions, I guess," Cooke said. "I learned a lot from everybody on the team. I wish we could have got a few more wins, I could have led my team to a few more wins. But they're a great group of guys and they will come back next year ready to work hard and definitely win some more games."
Cooke ended his career by breaking the 1,000-point plateau (including his two years at Nevada) and will attempt to try to play professional basketball next year. One source close to the program said that Cooke has had interest expressed in him by the Charlotte Bobcats, to at least bring him in for a workout. If that doesn't work, perhaps Cooke could play overseas until he can get into what he would like to do - coaching.
Cooke was never going to be a superstar, as he was more of a role player, but the impact he brought to USC was tremendous. It was Cooke who held together a locker room that was nearly fractured beyond repair last year, and even though USC didn't get many wins this year, the team's willingness to fight and not check out midway through the season was impressive.
Cooke also hit two game-winners this season -- a soft shot off the glass to beat Georgia, and two free throws to cinch a win over Clemson.
SOUR STREAKS: USC ended 10-21, the first time since 1958 that the school's football team (11) won more games than the basketball team. In that year, the football Gamecocks had seven wins while the basketball team had four.
Horn also extended his postseason misery at USC to 0-5 in four years. Horn has not won an SEC tournament game in his tenure and went one-and-done in the 2009 NIT, losing to a Davidson squad led by Stephen Curry.
By comparison, predecessor Dave Odom was a combined 8-7 in the SEC tournament and 14-2 in the NIT/NCAA tournament. Yet, fans howled that he had to go, much as some are for Horn now.
TROUBLE BREWING: Auburn took to the court to play Ole Miss on Thursday night, reeling from a bombshell of an announcement. Suspended guard Varez Ward, who has not played since Feb. 25, is the target of a federal probe investigation involving possible point-shaving.
The report: Click
LEGENDARY: USC's representative in the SEC's Legends Class of 2012 was Henry Martin, a forward in 1943 and again from 1947-49. Martin was the first player in school history to score 1,000 points, and averaged a crisp 16 points per game as a senior.
Martin was represented by his son, as he was unable to attend due to a broken hip. Martin, 87, still attends most USC home games.
SPOTTED: As usual, the SEC tournament crowd boasted its share of the celebrity and unusual. Former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson attended Thursday's first game, between the Razorbacks and LSU, and former Kentucky great Kenny "Sky" Walker was seen on the concourse. Richardson was part of the SEC's Legends class as well.
The SEC's fan base also displayed its colors, wearing the apparel of many of the schools and also sporting some clever T-shirt slogans. Guessing game: Which schools are represented by the following mottos (Note: May not be related to basketball)?
"Fear the Brow"
"Honeybadger For Heisman"
"Welcome to the Jungle"
"1996 National Champions"
MISSING IN ACTION: Ole Miss' Jelan Kendrick was not on the active roster for the Rebels' first-round game, and will not play if Ole Miss advances. He was left home after a strange incident during the Rebels' last regular-season game.
Kendrick, a redshirt freshman averaging 5.1 points and 2.2 rebounds per game, was warming up before the Rebels' 60-51 win over Alabama on March 3. He abruptly stopped, went into the arena stands to get his girlfriend, and left the arena.
Kendrick returned to the bench during the first half, but never left his seat - for huddles, high-fives and certainly not to play. It was a curious situation for a curious player - a McDonald's All-American, Kendrick signed with Memphis but was kicked off the team before he ever played. Reported reasons were at least two altercations with teammates.
Coach Andy Kennedy left Kendrick at home and didn't comment too heavily on Kendrick's status going forward. At 18-12, Ole Miss is at least going to the NIT and may be in consideration for the NCAA tournament with a strong run in New Orleans.
"Other than the fact that he's not with us, I think that speaks volumes," Kennedy said on Wednesday. "We're in a situation now where we're in the grind day-to-day. It's survival of the fittest for us, and I would like to focus on the guys that are here, with all due respect. It's a situation that's unfortunate, but he's not with the team and where we go in the future's yet to be determined."
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