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Photos: 2018 Winter Olympics: U.S. women's hockey team wins gold

Twenty long years after taking gold when the sport debuted in 1998 at Nagano, the United States snapped Canada's streak of four straight Olympic golds Thursday with a 3-2 shootout victory.

U.S. women's hockey team wins Olympic gold

The United States has defeated Canada 3-2 to win the gold medal in women’s hockey at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

>> PHOTOS: 2018 Winter Olympics: U.S. women's hockey team wins gold

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Auburn basketball: No more ‘holding back’ Chuma Okeke after freshman’s career night vs. Alabama

Auburn basketball-Auburn Tigers-Auburn-Alabama-Chuma Okeke

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn basketball fans finally got to see the full version of Chuma Okeke on Wednesday night.

With center Anfernee McLemore out for the season and No. 2 scorer Mustapha Heron battling a stomach virus, Bruce Pearl pulled his hands back and let his 6-foot-8 freshman phenom from Atlanta go.

“I’ve been telling you the only thing that is holding Chuma Okeke back is me,” Pearl said. “He can play.”

ON THE BEAT:  Just stop trying to figure out this Auburn basketball team

In a critical 90-71 win over Alabama, Okeke set or tied his career high in minutes played (34), points (16), rebounds (10), blocks (2) and steals (2).

During a 7-minute stretch in the second half, Okeke scored 13 points — including a transition 3-pointer and a pair of and-1 plays. Auburn went from up 2 points to leading by a dozen during that takeover period for the versatile forward.

“The coaches kept saying to get him the ball, and we were waiting to see the matchups,” Pearl said. “We were able to decide looking at who they had guys guarding, and we went at certain people. Chuma could do it at the perimeter. He could do it off the pinch post, he did it off the bounce. He was really good in the back, breaking pressure.”

Auburn basketball-Auburn Tigers-Auburn-Alabama-Chuma Okeke
Auburn forward Chuma Okeke had a pair of and-1s in the second half against Alabama. (Dakota Sumpter/Auburn Athletics)

Auburn needed someone to replace the post production of McLemore, who suffered a severe lower-leg injury in a loss to South Carolina last Saturday. Okeke exceeded it.

He doubled McLemore’s averages of 7 points and 5 rebounds per game. Okeke’s 10 rebounds were a game-high.

“One of our leading scorers was down, Mustapha,” Okeke said. “One of our leading rebounders was down, Anfernee. I had to come in this game with an aggressive mindset and crash the boards a lot, and I had to do what I had to do to help my team win.”

New career high 16 points for diaper dandy Chuma Okeke pic.twitter.com/j429ISmaK9 — ¯_(ツ)_/¯ (@SkyeUnderwood) February 22, 2018

That’s been the attitude of Okeke, a former 4-star signee from one of basketball’s top recruiting hotbeds. But with Auburn returning McLemore and adding Presbyterian transfer Desean Murray into the mix, the Tigers didn’t need Okeke to be a star right away.

“I think I’m just adjustable,” Okeke said. “Whatever [Pearl] needs me to do, I do it. I don’t have a problem doing anything.”

That’s not an easy mindset for most freshmen, especially ones who teammates — such as Auburn point guard Jared Harper — said were “gypped for McDonalds All-American” spots.

“The biggest compliment I could pay Chuma is this: he’s good enough and talented enough to start on most teams,” Pearl said. “You wouldn’t even guess it or know it, but he’s here to help and get better. Because so many freshmen come in and they want balloons, they want streamers, they want shots — ‘it’s my turn.’ Him, no.”

Okeke got plenty of turns, though, against Alabama. The 6-foot-8 forward moved like a wing on drives and finished at the rim, including a tomahawk dunk in the second half.

CHUMA OKEKE pic.twitter.com/FWQvAFlnJ7 — ¯_(ツ)_/¯ (@SkyeUnderwood) February 22, 2018

“I just think it is playing with confidence,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said of Okeke’s performance. “It is also being ready to play no matter who is in uniform.”

Okeke also showcased his range with a pair of 3-pointers. One of them came on an excellent pick-and-pop move with Harper in the second half.

“When Chuma is playing like that, we are very hard to beat,” Harper said. “He is definitely a matchup problem at the 4, and if he even plays the 5. If Chuma and I are in a pick and roll, they’re going to have to choose to stay, guard me or guard him.”

MORE:  Auburn fans sing reverse ‘Rammer Jammer’ after blowout against Alabama

It was a lethal combination Wednesday night. Harper assisted on 4 of Okeke’s 6 made shots. He finished with 6 assists.

As one of Auburn’s few healthy post players, Okeke was thrown into a difficult situation against Alabama. He had to play 13.5 more minutes than his season average. He had to play center after spending most of his season backing up Desean Murray at power forward.

Through all of it, though, the future of Auburn basketball rolled with the punches and delivered a flurry in the Tigers’ beatdown of Alabama. Expect more of the same as Auburn closes in on an SEC title.

“He’s just terrific,” Pearl said. “He asked me what I wanted him to do, and he’s ready to step up now.”

The post Auburn basketball: No more ‘holding back’ Chuma Okeke after freshman’s career night vs. Alabama appeared first on SEC Country.

Florida CBs coach Charlton Warren shares initial thoughts on Marco Wilson, C.J. Henderson

florida-florida football-florida gators football-marco wilson

Florida Gators football is the No. 1 topic in  Good Morning, Gators   every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across the Gators sports world. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Florida football, recruiting, basketball and more.

New position coach Charlton Warren likes Gators young cornerback duo

Florida cornerbacks coach Charlton Warren won’t get to work with his personnel and evaluate the guys first-hand until the Gators open spring practice next month.

But he already knows he’s got a strong foundation to work with in sophomore corners Marco Wilson and C.J. Henderson, who established themselves as freshmen starters last fall.

“I think they meet the mold of what you’re looking for in a corner,” Warren said. “They’re long. They’re athletic. They have good ball skills. They can run. I think as young guys playing in the SEC, they did a tremendous job. I think like every DB, they have a thirst and a hunger to get better fundamentally and technique-wise. I love players that embrace that. ‘Even though I did something well, I have so much more room to grow.’

“And I think when you have players of that mentality, as a coach, you love it. Because now I can push them day-to-day, knowing that they have a lot more to go to become great players. And they understand that and they want that. I love their mindset and I love that I have the opportunity to refine and improve their technique and fundamentals.”

Warren said he is eager to grow the young duo’s football IQ and introduce different defensive concepts, both in man and zone coverage, they may not have learned yet.

“I’m looking forward to working with those guys as well as the other guys in that room that have the ability to play corner for us so that those two don’t have to play 80 snaps a game, which I think will make all of us better,” Warren said. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to working with all those guys in that room and push those guys to be the very, very best player because I am a pusher. I want to really push those guys day-in and day-out to competitively be better, to improve their football I.Q. and that their fundamentals and techniques are on point every time we step on the field.”

For that matter, the Gators do have a lot to sort out in their secondary, both at corner and at safety.

And that may involve shifting some players from one spot to the other. New Gators coach Dan Mullen and his staff have all preached the importance of versatility and having guys who can play multiple positions.

Here’s more on what Warren and new safeties coach Ron English said about their plans for the secondary

Also, the latest edition of the Chomp Chat podcast covers this topic as well.

MORE:  Click here  to sign up for the Good Morning, Gators newsletter!

Recruiting roundup
  • SEC Country’s Zach Abolverdi considers which Class of 2019 de-commits could end up rejoining the Gators’ class by next National Signing Day.
  • Abolverdi also has an interesting story about how Warren surprised 4-star DB recruit Trey Dean on his official visit after being hired by the Gators. Warren had been recruiting Dean to Tennessee, but he helped convince him to sign with the Gators in the end. “Coach Warren recruited me to Tennessee. He came to Florida and told me I was their No. 1 guy they’re going to recruit at corner. He likes me very much and recruits me very hard,” Elam said. Read more here.
  • Florida doled out scholarship offers to two Class of 2019 quarterbacks this week, offering 4-star Taisun Phommachanh from Bridgeport, Conn., and 3-star prospect Jacob Zeno from San Antonio.
  • Speaking of that connection, Warren was also recruiting 4-star Class of 2019 cornerback Kaiir Elam at Tennessee. Now, he’ll try to land him in Gainesville as well.
  • Scout.com’s Jason Higdon caught up with Class of 2019 QB prospect Jalon Jones, who said “The one program I know I’m 100 percent taking an official visit to is Florida. I have a great respect and love for Coach Mullen.” Jones is a 3-star prospect ranked the No. 9 dual-threat QB in this next recruiting cycle, according to the 247Sports composite. See the rest of Jones’ comments here.
On the court
  • The Florida men’s basketball team continued its late-season spiral, taking a 62-57 loss at Tennessee on Wednesday night for its third straight defeat and sixth loss in its last eight SEC games. See what coach Mike White said here.
  • The Gators are now part of a 6-way tie for third place at 8-7 in the league.
  • The Florida women’s basketball team (11-16, 3-11 SEC) has its final home game on Thursday night at 7 p.m. against No. 15 Tennessee (21-6, 9-5).

On the diamond

  • The No. 1 Florida baseball team defeated Bethune-Cookman 7-4 Wednesday night, facing a Wildcats program it clashed with in the NCAA regional finals last year. The Gators improved to 5-0 heading into a weekend series at Miami.
  • JJ Schwarz hit his second homer of the season, an opposite-field shot off the scoreboard in right, while going 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs and 3 runs. Nelson Maldonado also stayed hot, going 3-for-4 with 2 runs.
  • Freshman Jordan Butler made his first start, allowing 3 runs over three innings with 6 hits, 3 walks and 3 strikeouts. Sophomore Nick Long got the win, throwing 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief.
  • The Florida softball team swept two games from Oakland on Wednesday, 6-2 and 10-0. The Gators moved to 10-1 on the season. Read more about the wins here.
What they’re saying on Twitter
  • Florida wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland is getting mentally ready with spring practice less than a month away:
Never satisfied got to go harder #Focus — Cleve (@Tyrie_1) February 21, 2018
  • As is Gators running back Lamical Perine:
Grinding from the bottom gone make being at the top so much better .. #Focused — La’Mical Perine (@LP_deucedeuce) February 21, 2018
  • Florida defensive end CeCe Jefferson commented on one of his highlights that was posted on Twitter on Wednesday:
One of my favorite plays https://t.co/jUuxpz8DrQ — CeCe (@cecejeferson7) February 22, 2018

Miss a previous edition of Good Morning, Gators? Get caught up  here .

The post Florida CBs coach Charlton Warren shares initial thoughts on Marco Wilson, C.J. Henderson appeared first on SEC Country.

Florida CBs coach Charlton Warren shares initial thoughts on Marco Wilson, C.J. Henderson

florida-florida football-florida gators football-marco wilson

Florida Gators football is the No. 1 topic in  Good Morning, Gators   every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across the Gators sports world. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Florida football, recruiting, basketball and more.

New position coach Charlton Warren likes Gators young cornerback duo

Florida cornerbacks coach Charlton Warren won’t get to work with his personnel and evaluate the guys first-hand until the Gators open spring practice next month.

But he already knows he’s got a strong foundation to work with in sophomore corners Marco Wilson and C.J. Henderson, who established themselves as freshmen starters last fall.

“I think they meet the mold of what you’re looking for in a corner,” Warren said. “They’re long. They’re athletic. They have good ball skills. They can run. I think as young guys playing in the SEC, they did a tremendous job. I think like every DB, they have a thirst and a hunger to get better fundamentally and technique-wise. I love players that embrace that. ‘Even though I did something well, I have so much more room to grow.’

“And I think when you have players of that mentality, as a coach, you love it. Because now I can push them day-to-day, knowing that they have a lot more to go to become great players. And they understand that and they want that. I love their mindset and I love that I have the opportunity to refine and improve their technique and fundamentals.”

Warren said he is eager to grow the young duo’s football IQ and introduce different defensive concepts, both in man and zone coverage, they may not have learned yet.

“I’m looking forward to working with those guys as well as the other guys in that room that have the ability to play corner for us so that those two don’t have to play 80 snaps a game, which I think will make all of us better,” Warren said. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to working with all those guys in that room and push those guys to be the very, very best player because I am a pusher. I want to really push those guys day-in and day-out to competitively be better, to improve their football I.Q. and that their fundamentals and techniques are on point every time we step on the field.”

For that matter, the Gators do have a lot to sort out in their secondary, both at corner and at safety.

And that may involve shifting some players from one spot to the other. New Gators coach Dan Mullen and his staff have all preached the importance of versatility and having guys who can play multiple positions.

Here’s more on what Warren and new safeties coach Ron English said about their plans for the secondary

Also, the latest edition of the Chomp Chat podcast covers this topic as well.

MORE:  Click here  to sign up for the Good Morning, Gators newsletter!

Recruiting roundup
  • SEC Country’s Zach Abolverdi considers which Class of 2019 de-commits could end up rejoining the Gators’ class by next National Signing Day.
  • Abolverdi also has an interesting story about how Warren surprised 4-star DB recruit Trey Dean on his official visit after being hired by the Gators. Warren had been recruiting Dean to Tennessee, but he helped convince him to sign with the Gators in the end. “Coach Warren recruited me to Tennessee. He came to Florida and told me I was their No. 1 guy they’re going to recruit at corner. He likes me very much and recruits me very hard,” Elam said. Read more here.
  • Florida doled out scholarship offers to two Class of 2019 quarterbacks this week, offering 4-star Taisun Phommachanh from Bridgeport, Conn., and 3-star prospect Jacob Zeno from San Antonio.
  • Speaking of that connection, Warren was also recruiting 4-star Class of 2019 cornerback Kaiir Elam at Tennessee. Now, he’ll try to land him in Gainesville as well.
  • Scout.com’s Jason Higdon caught up with Class of 2019 QB prospect Jalon Jones, who said “The one program I know I’m 100 percent taking an official visit to is Florida. I have a great respect and love for Coach Mullen.” Jones is a 3-star prospect ranked the No. 9 dual-threat QB in this next recruiting cycle, according to the 247Sports composite. See the rest of Jones’ comments here.
On the court
  • The Florida men’s basketball team continued its late-season spiral, taking a 62-57 loss at Tennessee on Wednesday night for its third straight defeat and sixth loss in its last eight SEC games. See what coach Mike White said here.
  • The Gators are now part of a 6-way tie for third place at 8-7 in the league.
  • The Florida women’s basketball team (11-16, 3-11 SEC) has its final home game on Thursday night at 7 p.m. against No. 15 Tennessee (21-6, 9-5).

On the diamond

  • The No. 1 Florida baseball team defeated Bethune-Cookman 7-4 Wednesday night, facing a Wildcats program it clashed with in the NCAA regional finals last year. The Gators improved to 5-0 heading into a weekend series at Miami.
  • JJ Schwarz hit his second homer of the season, an opposite-field shot off the scoreboard in right, while going 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs and 3 runs. Nelson Maldonado also stayed hot, going 3-for-4 with 2 runs.
  • Freshman Jordan Butler made his first start, allowing 3 runs over three innings with 6 hits, 3 walks and 3 strikeouts. Sophomore Nick Long got the win, throwing 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief.
  • The Florida softball team swept two games from Oakland on Wednesday, 6-2 and 10-0. The Gators moved to 10-1 on the season. Read more about the wins here.
What they’re saying on Twitter
  • Florida wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland is getting mentally ready with spring practice less than a month away:
Never satisfied got to go harder #Focus — Cleve (@Tyrie_1) February 21, 2018
  • As is Gators running back Lamical Perine:
Grinding from the bottom gone make being at the top so much better .. #Focused — La’Mical Perine (@LP_deucedeuce) February 21, 2018
  • Florida defensive end CeCe Jefferson commented on one of his highlights that was posted on Twitter on Wednesday:
One of my favorite plays https://t.co/jUuxpz8DrQ — CeCe (@cecejeferson7) February 22, 2018

Miss a previous edition of Good Morning, Gators? Get caught up  here .

The post Florida CBs coach Charlton Warren shares initial thoughts on Marco Wilson, C.J. Henderson appeared first on SEC Country.

South Carolina coach talks SEC East vs. West; Gamecocks try to replace first-round talent at TE

South Carolina Gamecocks Hayden Hurst TE

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

‘It’s not the West, it’s Alabama’

South Carolina Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp  doesn’t think the SEC East is any less talented than the West .

“I think it all goes in cycles,” Muschamp told The Athletic’s Jason Kersey . “There was a time when Florida and Tennessee were really battling every year for the SEC championship and the national championship. It has swung to the West side.”

“But I think more than anything, it’s not the West, it’s Alabama. Alabama has been dominant. That’s what I would look at and point to.”

In his two years at South Carolina, Muschamp is 1-3 against SEC West teams. Texas A&M (South Carolina’s permanent SEC West foe) and Ole Miss are the Gamecocks’ cross-division opponents in 2018.

Next generation

With All-SEC tight end Hayden Hurst moving on to the NFL, the Gamecocks turn to a talented but mostly inexperienced tight end group to replace his production.

“Who’s used where and in what capacity is sort of up in the air right now,” SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan wrote as he previewed the Gamecocks’ tight ends. “With a new offensive coordinator [Bryan McClendon] and another season with a complete arsenal of wide receivers, there are plenty of unknowns as it relates to the future of the tight end position.”

South Carolina’s six returning tight ends combined for 9 catches for 83 yards in 2017.

On the big board

Speaking of Hurst, the former Pittsburgh Pirates farmhand could go in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, according to multiple draft experts.

“With the release of his Mock Draft 2.0, [Mel] Kiper believes Hurst will go No. 27 overall to the New Orleans Saints, a team he says needs a new No. 1 tight end for quarterback Drew Brees,” The Big Spur’s John Del Bianco reports. “[NFL Network analyst Mike] Mayock listed Hurst as his No. 1 tight end on Tuesday.”

Hurst’s 44 catches in 2017 led all SEC tight ends.

Checking in

Despite being courted by other Power 5 programs, 4-star defensive end and 2019 prospects Rodricus Fitten is comfortable with his commitment to South Carolina .

“I really enjoyed myself there,” Fitten said. “I really enjoyed myself at South Carolina, like I did before. They treat me like family. That’s what I love about it, and the coaches ask how I’ve been doing in school and all that, and I’ve been doing well.”

Fitten is rated as the No. 22 overall weakside defensive end for 2019, per the 247Sports composite.

The Atlanta native plans to return to Columbia for the Garnet & Black spring game on March 31.

MORE: Want this roundup in your inbox every morning? Sign up here!

On the hardwood

The South Carolina men’s basketball team won its second straight game on Wednesday night, toppling Georgia, 66-57. Gamecocks’ Wes Myers and Chris Silva led all scorers with 15 points apiece.

With the win, South Carolina improved to 15-13 overall and 6-9 in the SEC.

Previously, South Carolina snapped a six-game losing streak on Saturday with a 84-75 upset of No. 10 Auburn. The Gamecocks hope to maintain their winning ways on Saturday when they head to Starkville, Miss., to take on Mississippi State.

Let’s celebrate

The No. 7-ranked South Carolina’s women’s basketball team celebrates senior night on Thursday in the team’s final home game of the regular season, a Top 25 showdown with No. 24 LSU.

Hard to believe it's been 4 years since she said "I'll be attending the University of South Carolina." She's been #Gamecocks game-changer, so help us honor #22 on Feb. 22. Stars aligned for @_ajawilson22! Senior Night starts at 6:10 p.m. See everyone there! @dawnstaley pic.twitter.com/to7VpilAOf — GamecockWBB (@GamecockWBB) February 22, 2018

All-SEC forward A’ja Wilson will be at the center of the team’s festivities.

The Hopkins, S.C., native averaged 17.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 1.4 assists per game in her four seasons in Columbia — earning a number of All-America and All-SEC accolades in addition to leading the program to its first-ever national championship in 2017.

Offensive explosion

The South Carolina baseball team improved to 4-1 on Wednesday afternoon, thanks to a 15-2 win against Wofford.

Senior catcher Hunter Taylor’s grand slam to put the Gamecocks ahead 8-0 in the third inning was the highlight for South Carolina.

. @bigpine96 grand slam is our Play of the Day!! #Gamecocks pic.twitter.com/ZhDubvgWut — Gamecock Baseball (@GamecockBasebll) February 22, 2018

Freshman right-hander Logan Chapman (1-0) earned the win, fanning 4 batters and surrendering just 3 hits and 1 earned run in 3.0 innings on the mound.

South Carolina returns to Founders Park on Friday afternoon for Game 1 of a three-game set against Charleston Southern.

Craving more Chicken & Waffles? Get your fix with previous versions here.

The post South Carolina coach talks SEC East vs. West; Gamecocks try to replace first-round talent at TE appeared first on SEC Country.

Freshman Kjerstad homers as Arkansas beats Arizona, 1-0

arkansas-arkansas baseball-kacey murphy

Four days after the Arkansas baseball team scored 32 runs, one off its all-time high, the Diamond Hogs had just one against Arizona.

Get you a team that can do both.

The lone run, a Heston Kjerstad home run in the fifth inning, was the only run of the game Wednesday night. It was the only one Arkansas needed, too, in its 1-0 win over the Wildcats out in San Diego. The last two years the two teams have combined to score just four runs (a 3-0 Arizona win in 2017) between them.

Arkansas’ Kacey Murphy, who had a one-hitter last year through seven innings against Memphis, had the same against Arizona, just through six. Alfonso Rivas had a single in the fourth and that was it. Murphy ultimately went those six innings, walking one and striking out six. Odds are strong he becomes Arkansas’ Sunday starter when SEC play rolls around.

Arizona is hardly Bucknell, the team the Razorbacks scored 32 on Saturday. The Wildcats are picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12 and are around 30th in the country in a composite of the six national polls.

Cody Scroggins replaced Murphy in the seventh and picked up where his predecessor left off at first. He struck out the first two Wildcats hitters he faced before trouble started. A hit, a walk, a passed ball and another walk gave Arizona the bases loaded with two outs. Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn went to the bullpen, where Matt Cronin entered from. He induced a groundout and Arizona left its runners stranded.

Arkansas had an opportunity to add insurance in the ninth, loading the bases with two outs. Jared Gates, however, had his fly ball tracked down a couple feet from the wall to end the inning.

Grading the Hogs

Pitching: A-

Other than Scroggins’ three-batter hiccup, things went swimmingly for the Arkansas staff. They combined to give up just two hits, allow four walks and strike out 11 Wildcats batters.

Hitting: D+

Ten strikeouts. Seven hits and walks. Not an ideal recipe.

The Big Stick + The Arm

Arm:  Murphy

Coach Dave Van Horn had said earlier this year Murphy wasn’t, specifically, a strikeout guy. His stuff doens’t make him, certainly, but somehow he gets them. He is the returning leader on the team from last year in strikeouts per nine innings and he cut through Arizona smoothly to start this year, too.

Stick: Kjerstad

The freshman from Amarillo, Texas, has looked wholly impressive as Arkansas’ everyday leftfielder. Not out of place whatsoever. Besides the home run, he was hit by a pitch in the ninth.

What’s next for Arkansas?

Arkansas sticks around San Diego until Sunday night. The Razorbacks are taking part in the Tony Gwynn Classic this weekend. First game is Friday afternoon, 3 p.m. Arkansas time, against Cal Poly.

The post Freshman Kjerstad homers as Arkansas beats Arizona, 1-0 appeared first on SEC Country.

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