From the "Rhinestone Cowboy studios," let's go.
Tennessee guard Cameron Tatum (23) swipes the ball away from Arkansas guard BJ Young (11) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn., Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. Tennessee won 77-58 over Arkansas. (AP Photo/Knoxville News Sentinel, Adam Brimer)
With a slight nod toward the family-oriented nature of the 5-at-10, Arkansas has preached the return of the "40 minutes of heck" defense that helped the Hogs reach national power status under Nolan Richardson in the 1990s. Wednesday night, "40 minutes of heck" became "40 minutes of heck yes" for Tennessee.
Six Vols reached double figures in scoring, and watching early on, every time a Vols player even looked at the rim, the ball immediately jumped through the hoop. UT made its five 3-point attempts and was 12-of-16 from the floor to start the game. Tennessee cruised to its fourth straight win, belting Arkansas 77-58 in a game that really wasn't even that close.
As our UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown tells us here (Vols keep streak alive as UT cruises to win over Arkansas) there were plenty of back slaps for everyone in orange last night. As our ace columnist Mark Wiedmer tells us here (Wiedmer: UT's Cameron Tatum a study in toughness) Cam Tatum has been a big part of the leadership coalition for these Vols.
It was a nice win, and it was arguably the best offensive first half for a UT basketball team since Chris Lofton was in uniform. Everybody give someone a High 5. Hey you, c'mon on over here and give the 5-at-10 a High 5.
OK, we got that out of our system.
While at times it looked like UT had Teen Wolf running the offense, we'd like to paraphrase another Wolf, one Winston Wolfe from "Pulp Fiction." It was a fine win against a better than average-to-good Arkansas team, but let's not go and kiss each other cheeks just yet. The Vols were a 7-point favorite after all, and we still believe UT would have to win out to be on the NCAA bubble. (Is that possible? The way UT is playing and the way the schedule sets up, yes, it's possible. But it's still a tall order.)
Enjoy this for what it is — a young team coming together for a first-year coach and playing good basketball. This puts the Vols on track for an NIT bid and helps the long-distant dedication. (Hey, what ever happened to Casey Kasem, and did you know he was the voice of Shaggy on the 'Scooby-Do' cartoons, and yes, we know entirely too much useless junk. Keep reachin' for the stars.)
Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin (17) scores a second-quarter touchdown on a 2-yard run on Saturday, Oct. 24, 1998 in Knoxville, Tenn. Trying in vain to bring Martin down is Alabama's Trevis Smith (48). (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
College football notes
When we weren't looking there was some college football happenings. Yay.
— Tennessee added another piece to the 2012 recruiting class. Linebacker Kenneth Bynum signed with the Vols, signing with the Vols after a long-standing commitment to Cincinnati. Here's Downtown Patrick Brown's report (Vols pick up late football signee Kenneth Bynum). Bynum is a three-star prospect at a five-star position of need for UT. And no matter how bad the last season was for Johnny Vols Fans everywhere, UT dominates Cincinnati. Taste it Bearcats.
— According to reports, Lane Kiffin lured Tee Martin out west, hiring the former Kentucky assistant coach and former UT national-championship-winning QB to USC. It's a super hire in our opinion. Super. Kiffin may have the social skills of an axe-murderer, but dude has USC rolling right now, and if you think Martin is not going to pull at least one star recruit from SEC country, then you're kidding yourself.
— Georgia suspended cornerback Sanders Commings for two games as our SEC ace David Paschall tells us here (UGA's Sanders Commings suspended two games). Paschall makes an interesting point that the second game of that suspension will be against Missouri and super-recruit Dorial Green-Beckham, the 6-6, 220-pound monster receiver.
— OK, TCU has acclimated to big-time college football quicker than expected. On the day the Horned Frogs officially joined the Big 12, four players were arrested in a major drug bust. And like that TCU storms to the lead in the Fulmer Cup (the unofficial standings that 'award' football programs for off the field issues). And, according to SI's Stewart Mandel, one of the arrested players — starting linebacker Tanner Brock — said only "about 20" players on the TCU football roster would pass a drug test.
Jimmie Johnson (48) crosses the finish line slightly ahead of Clint Bowyer (33) to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Talladega Superspeedway, Sunday, April 17, 2011, in Talladega, Ala. (AP Photo/Todd Warshaw, Pool)
Can you smell it? It's the scent of high-octane gasoline, burnt rubber, Copenhagen and Danica's overwhelming perfume. You bet, it's the start of NASCAR sneaking up on us like a 500-pound pit bull driving the No. 14 Old Spice Chevy.
The Bud Shootout is this weekend and that signifies the start of the festivities at Daytona. We're excited, especially after the way NASCAR ended last season with a firework-filled finish. The new rules worked better than anyone this side of France family could have imagined.
So what do we expect? Well, we'll cover some NASCAR predictions in tomorrow's mailbag (there's still a spot open if you're so inclined), but know that things get revved up this weekend, and we're pretty pumped about it.
That said, two quick NASCAR points:
1) The guys at SportTalk — friends of the show all — had their first NASCAR show of the season last night. It's every Wednesday starting at 6 p.m., and as always it was enjoyable.
2) Before anyone gets the wrong idea, we're not anti-Danica Patrick. OK, maybe the perfume joke was easy and cheap. We're sorry. Kind of. That said, we're not a fan of Danica getting an automatic bid into the Daytona 500 by dealing and trading. If NASCAR wants her to succeed, then she needs to succeed on her own merits, and if that happens, it will be the biggest story in sports. Seriously. (Think of it this way, if Danica wins the Daytona 500, you're not going to hear about Jeremy Lin for like four or five hours at least.) Now, though, even if she wins, there will be some folks pointing out that the only reason she got in the field in the first place was because of NASCAR creating a spot for her.
Either way, NASCAR's back and that's a good thing.
New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin (17) drives past Sacramento Kings' DeMarcus Cousins (15) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012, in New York. Lin had 10 points and 13 assists as the Knicks won the game 100-85. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
This and that
— So much for confidence builders, huh? The UTC Mocs basketball team fell to 0-13 on the road with a 79-70 loss to Appalachian State, and the game sounded like it was not as close as the final score. The starters were pulled in the second half when ASU's lead reached 22, and two UTC reserves led the Mocs in scoring. Dontay Hampton had 17 points and Ronrico White scored 16. Ouch.
— Jeremy Lin had a career best 13 assists as the Knicks won their seventh straight game. Dude has become a phenomenon. Here's saying at some point in the next week, you're going to see some dude in Chattanooga with a Knicks' No. 17 jersey, and not only will you not be surprised, you're going to know who that is. Crazy times indeed. (Side note: There are a million Lin-whatever puns circling, but one poster last night at the Knicks game was pretty clever. It had Maximus from "Gladiator" with Lin's face and the words, "Aren't you Lin-tertained?" Well-played indeed.)
— We love the draft. You know this. We hold ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. in especially high regard in matters of our beloved draft. Now you know this, too. Kiper's latest mock gives a lot of insight into why the top teams were the top teams last year. Alabama has four players in Kiper's first round, LSU and Stanford each have three. Those three teams were among the top five teams all season.
— Quick scheduling note: We'll make our regular Thursday appearance on "The Show" with Chris Goforth today around 2 p.m. Stop if you can, as Bluto says, "Don't cost nothing."
We referenced Teen Wolf earlier, and it got us thinking, which is always a dangerous proposition.
OK, it today's internet-crazy, recruiting-loving, next-great-thing sports world, who would be the bigger high school basketball recruit and where do you think they would end up going to college in today's college basketball realm:
a) Scott McCall/Teen Wolf from "Teen Wolf"
b) Jimmy Chitwood from "Hoosiers"
c) Jesus Shuttlesworth from "He Got Game"
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...