SEC News & Notes: Gators Pounding The Baseball

A new feature for Tiger Ticket subscribers is a news and notes report featuring Auburn's Southeastern Conference rivals.

Coach Pat McMahon's tenure as Florida's baseball coach is off to an impressive start. The Gators opened the season with a school record 11 straight victories and have been pounding the baseball. In a two-run stretch against Siena, the Gators scored 22 runs on their way to a 31-3 victory.

Gator standout Ryan Shealy received SEC Player of the Week honors this week. The senior first basemen was 13-for-26 with four home runs and eight runs scored and helped the Gators to a three-game sweep of what is believed to be a strong Ole Miss team. He currently has a 19-game hitting streak for the 19-3 Gators. Shealy's best performance came in Friday's contest vs. Ole Miss. He hit three home runs during that game, one of which was a grand slam. The final score, 24-5, more closely resembled that of a football game. However, scoring that many runs is not new to the sixth-ranked Gators as Friday's outing was their third consecutive 20-plus run game.

Auburn's hot pitching staff, which has produced two no-hitters this year and a one-hitter on Sunday vs. Kentucky, will receive a big test when the Tigers open a three game series vs. the Gators in Gainesville on March 29th. The Gators have already pounded 51 homers this season, which is two more than their entire 2001 total. Led by Aaron Sobieraj, who is batting a sizzling .526, nine Gators have batting averages of .400 or better and 14 are hitting at least .300.

Elsewhere around the SEC:

Tennessee power forward Marcus Haislip has announced he will enter the NBA draft. The loss of the 6-10, 230 pound, All-SEC junior is almost sure to have a negative impact on next year's team, which struggled to finish with a 15-16 overall record. Haislip missed the first six games of the season due to academic ineligibility, but he showed no ill effects from the layoff by averaging almost 17 points per game. The 21-year-old Haislip is expected by some analysts to be a possible Top 10 NBA draft pick when selections are made in June...The Kentucky Wildcats are the last men standing of the six SEC teams that received invitations to the NCAA Tournament. Nicknamed "Team Turmoil" for its problems on and off the court this season, UK pulled out an 87-82 victory over the Tulsa Hurricanes to survive and advance to the Sweet 16 where they will face No. 1 seed Maryland on Friday. The SEC's highest seed, No. 2 Alabama, never seriously challenged MAC champion Kent State in the second round and third-seeded Georgia was upset by 11th-seed Southern Illinois in the second round... It looks like another SEC program could have some NCAA issues to deal with this year. An investigation is underway at LSU to look into allegations that student athletes received preferential treatment in tutoring and grading. Bo Hahnsen, the compliance coordinator for LSU, met with SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer at the LSU campus to discuss the situation. LSU is currently under probation in men's basketball for a violation that took place in 1998 when, according to the NCAA's report, cash payments totalling $5,000 were made to a former student athlete. Because of their probation status, LSU could be considered by the NCAA as a repeat offender, and thus be subject to harsher penalties if the latest problems prove to be NCAA violations.

Nearly a month after Arkansas basketball head coach Nolan Richardson went on a public tirade against the UA administration that virtually assured a buyout of his contract, there is now a chance that the buyout may not even take place. UA President B. Alan Sugg has announced that he will take a few days to decide whether or not he will overturn chancellor John White's decision to buy out Richardson's contract. With six years remaining on the contract, the buyout cost is expected to exceed $3 million. Despite his comments to the media that UA officials could "take this job tomorrow," Richardson insists that he has no desire to resign or be bought out of his contract and has hired John Walker, a noted civil rights attorney, as his legal counsel in his attempt to be reinstated as head coach. Mike Anderson, formerly an assistant coach to Richardson, continues to act as UA's interim coach until the matter is resolved. One of the nation's more successful basketball coaches, Kelvin Sampson of Oklahoma, has been mentioned as a possible successor to Richardson. If athletic director Frank Broyles gets his way, Richardson is finished at Arkansas...At Ole Miss, the football team is changing its defensive alignment with a new coordinator running the show. Chuck Driesbach is installing an eight-man front system that head coach David Cutcliffe predicts will make the Rebels a more aggressive defensive team. The Rebels open the season August 31 vs. Louisiana-Monroe and face Abuurn Nov. 2nd in Oxford.

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