SEC notes: Bulldogs get education on Hurricane Katrina

NEW ORLEANS — The last time Mark Fox came to New Orleans was in 2007 when he was head coach at Nevada. The Wolf Pack was 28-4 and came for the NCAA tournament as the No. 7 seed in the South Regional.

That was two years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, and Fox took his Nevada team to survey the residual damage in the Ninth Ward. He has never forgotten what they saw.

“It really was staggering to see it up close,” Fox said.

Five years later, Fox took his Georgia basketball team to that same area. The Bulldogs surveyed the neighborhood early Wednesday as they awaited their turn to practice at New Orleans Arena for the SEC basketball tournament.

“I just felt it would be good for our players to see what people went through in this region and to see what the aftereffects of a hurricane are like,” Fox said. “All these guys followed it through the news and just to see some still-damaged homes, to see the ones that have been rebuilt, I just felt like it could be a great educational thing to do.”

Fox was amazed at the progress that has been made in the Ninth Ward since he last visited and the work still to be done.

“You think that because time has passed that everything’s fixed,” Fox said. “Well, that’s not the case, and that’s why I’m sure they’re excited to have this tournament and the Final Four here, to bring more attention and certainly consumer dollars to the region.”

Alabama helps its NCAA cause

Alabama may have gotten a step closer to an NCAA tournament bid with its 63-57 win over South Carolina in a first-round game Thursday. The Crimson Tide (22-10), which came in as the No. 5 seed with a 9-7 SEC record, can further enhance its resume if it gets by Florida in Friday’s 3:30 p.m. quarterfinal matchup.

“I’m not even really thinking about it, to be honest with you,” coach Anthony Grant said. “We’re excited to be in the SEC tournament, excited to be here with an opportunity to play, again, on tomorrow, toward the goal of trying to play for an SEC championship and win a championship. So we’re going to live in that.”

Alabama’s addition would mean at least four SEC teams are in good shape for the NCAA berths. Kentucky (30-1) Vanderbilt (21-10) and Florida (22-9), all of which had first-round byes, have RPIs in the top 30. Tennessee (18-13), which earned a second-place finish and first-round bye based on its two wins over the Gators, has some work to do

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In 1988, Willie Anderson represented his country at the Olympic Games. In 2012, Anderson is representing his alma mater among SEC basketball legends. Anderson, 45, is one of 12 former SEC players recognized by the conference during the SEC tournament. The 6-foot-7 Anderson starred for the Bulldogs and then-coach Hugh Durham as a point guard from 1985-88, scoring 1,350 points. ... LSU, which was playing for a bye before losing three consecutive to end the regular season, likely is headed to the NIT. The Tigers (18-13) defeated Arkansas 70-54 in Thursday’s first-round action, but get No. 1-ranked Kentucky in Friday’s second round. LSU lost to the Wildcats 74-50 in Lexington on Jan. 28.

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