The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

2 weeks ago

Update: Saban remains asymptomatic, in self-isolation

(@AlabamaFTBL/Twitter)

News of college football’s top coach testing positive for COVID-19 shook the sport on Wednesday. One day later, University of Alabama Athletics Department officials provided an update on his health.

“Coach Saban was evaluated by our team physician Dr. Jimmy Robinson today,” said Jeff Allen, associate athletics director for Sports Medicine, in a statement. “Coach remains asymptomatic at this point and is doing fine. He is continuing to self-isolate and will remain in the SEC testing protocol while being evaluated daily.”

Saban confirmed on Wednesday that he will continue to drive game week preparation remotely.

“I can do absolutely everything here that I do,” he stated. “I will have the same exact routine.”

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He cited his participation in Wednesday’s practice, via phone and video, which occasionally involved him directing that the team repeat plays in the absence of execution.

Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will assume on-field head coaching duties while not delegating play calling to anyone else, according to Saban.

“He’s done a really good job of that,” Saban said of Sarkisian. “We’re not going to make those kind of changes. We have a very capable staff and those guys make good game day decisions. I just kind of monitor what they do and make sure we’re staying on the rails. I think we can get that done even if I am not available, which is not for certain I hope, but it is what it is.”

Over seven seasons as a head coach at Washington and then USC, Sarkisian compiled a 46-35 record.

Sarkisian currently guides an offense which leads the nation in scoring and stands third in total production.

The Crimson Tide are presently listed as a 4.5-point favorite over the visiting Georgia Bulldogs in Saturday’s SEC showdown.

2 weeks ago

ESPN’s Stanford Steve and The Bear: ‘Auburn should not be ranked’

(@ESPNPR/Twitter, YHN)

The No. 15 Auburn Tigers travel to Columbia this weekend as a three-point favorite over the South Carolina Gamecocks. In a colorful conversation on ESPN’s “Stanford Steve and The Bear” podcast, the two hosts questioned both the Tigers’ ranking and the point spread for Saturday’s game.

Following his team’s controversy-filled win against Arkansas, Gus Malzahn said he views the game against South Carolina as the next step in improvement over the course of the season.

“Our goal is to get a little better each week,” he stated. “If we do that, we think that we think we’ll have a chance to be in the mix at the end. There’s not going to be a whole lot of teams to improve especially under these unusual circumstances this year.”

“Stanford” Steve Coughlin and Chris “The Bear” Fallica had the following to say about Auburn’s current standing:

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COUGHLIN: I said it about LSU last week … I said LSU should not be ranked. This week it’s Auburn. Auburn should not be ranked. They are currently ranked I want to say 17.

FALLICA: That’s too high.

COUGHLIN: Come on.

FALLICA: We hit it last week, brother.

COUGHLIN: Fifteenth. They are 15 in the AP [Poll]. Why do we have the AP? Get rid of it.

FALLICA: I don’t know how because you are finally voting teams that aren’t playing to be voted. How are you voting them that high?

COUGHLIN: Why can’t Coastal be ranked?

FALLICA: The refs completely choked in that game last week and Arkansas should have won the game. We talked about it going into the week. Arkansas played Georgia a hell of a lot tougher than Auburn did and what Odom has done defensively has been really good. Franks has been steady, steady at quarterback. They look like a well-coached team for the first time in a while. And there was stuff going on at Auburn. Offensively they’re a mess. I don’t know, man. This is a very tricky number, too, with Auburn only laying a field goal against South Carolina.

COUGHLIN: I don’t understand it. I don’t get it. I don’t want anything to do with it, more importantly.

The Tigers’ game at South Carolina kicks off at 11:00 a.m. CT on ESPN.

2 weeks ago

Saban unsure if remote coaching an option versus Georgia

(@AlabamaFTBL/Twitter)

Nick Saban has been leading the Alabama Crimson Tide from his home Wednesday afternoon after receiving a positive test result for COVID-19. Questions remain whether he will be able to do the same when the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs come to Tuscaloosa on Saturday.

During his mid-week press conference being held via video conference, Saban explained that he is still unsure what the rules will be about his participation in the upcoming SEC showdown.

“I’m not sure exactly how this is going to play out in terms of when the game comes whether I can have communication with people or not,” he stated. “So we’ll have to research and sort of figure that one out. But we did have a plan for each coach on the staff as to what might happen.”

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Athletics department officials announced earlier on Wednesday that Saban and athletics director Greg Byrne had both tested positive for the virus the same day.

“Early this afternoon, we received notification that Coach Saban and Greg Byrne tested positive for COVID-19. Both immediately left the facility and went to their homes to self-isolate after receiving that information,” said a joint statement from Dr. Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allen, associate athletics director for sports medicine.

Saban confirmed that offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian would carry on-field head coaching duties while not delegating play calling to anyone else.

Over seven seasons as a head coach at Washington and then USC, Sarkisian compiled a 46-35 record.

Sarkisian currently guides an offense which leads the nation in scoring and stands third in total production.

“He’s done a really good job of that,” Saban said of Sarkisian. “We’re not going to make those kind of changes. We have a very capable staff and those guys make good game day decisions. I just kind of monitor what they do and make sure we’re staying on the rails. I think we can get that done even if I am not available, which is not for certain I hope, but it is what it is.”

Saban will continue to drive game week preparation remotely.

“I can do absolutely everything here that I do,” he stated. “I will have the same exact routine.”

He cited his participation in Wednesday’s practice, via phone and video, which occasionally involved him directing that the team repeat plays in the absence of execution.

RELATED: SEC’s Greg Sankey reacts to Saban positive COVID test, emphasizes continued vigilance

2 weeks ago

SEC’s Greg Sankey reacts to Saban positive COVID test, emphasizes continued vigilance

(Saturday Down South/YouTube)

On a day when it was announced that Alabama head coach Nick Saban had tested positive for COVID-19 and that the LSU-Florida game had been postponed, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey emphasized continued adherence to established health protocols.

Sankey began his Wednesday appearance on “The Paul Finebaum Show” by reciting a line from a preseason presentation he made in front of a group of athletic directors.

“‘Once we begin we will encounter circumstances we cannot currently imagine,'” the SEC’s leader recalled telling the group.

Sankey elaborated further to Finebaum, “And while we’re surprised at what happens, we’re not surprised. That’s part of preparation and conversation. But we all have work to do to stay healthy and all pull off a season in a positive way.”

As he has done throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Sankey expressed a thoughtful and measured approach to the day’s news.

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“We’ll have to see going forward,” he remarked. “Obviously, we’re attentive at Florida given the information shared about the numbers of people involved. We want teams that are close to that margin, which we really don’t have that many of them, to get well and get well quickly so that we can move forward. But just as we’ve seen in the last few moments [with the Saban positive test] the health of all of our participants is at the forefront of our mind.”

Sankey outlined that student-athletes and staff members go through testing Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at a minimum. He described the Thursday tests as being the ones “where you hold your breath” knowing their importance to the weekend’s games.

The protocols that conference members have put in place, such as masking and distancing, seek to limit transmission. However, they do not guarantee that positive tests will not happen, he explained.

“What it means is what we’ve set up, and our work with our local health departments, has worked in the way it was supposed to work to maintain health around our programs,” said Sankey.

Asked by Finebaum to describe his reaction to coaches not following the conference guidelines, Sankey was blunt in his assessment.

“Displeased would be the word,” offered Sankey. “We have to do better. We have to do better. And the news of this week reminds us that this is not some memo. All of those who can be somewhat skeptical of what’s happening around us, this is real life, this is 2020. This is functioning within a pandemic. We have to attentive and careful. Things will happen and then we have to adapt to them. But we have to meet the expectations and that’s being re-emphasized continuously.”

Last week, the SEC office warned coaches and athletic directors of potentially facing $100,000 fines plus suspensions for not adhering to masking protocols on the sidelines.

So far in the 2020 season, something that has not surprised Sankey has been what he referred to as “the intensity of competition.”

“I was asked about asterisks next to the season,” he said. “Whether it’s a questionable call on the field, or the intensity of a game or opinions about what happened. There are no asterisks. The ‘It Just Means More’ philosophy is alive and well in the league. But you see in real time, literally, the reality of a pandemic, of the sensitivities to health protocols, the attention to testing and systems that we’ve put in place doing what they were intended to do.”

2 weeks ago

Mac Jones ‘really impressed’ with physicality of Bama skill position players — ‘They’re fearless’

Alabama football/Twitter

Even in the midst of historic offensive production, Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones expressed his admiration for the physical approach to the game by his unit’s skill position players.

Appearing on Tuesday’s edition of “The Paul Finebaum Show,” Jones gave his assessment of his own team’s progress, as well as previewing his team’s matchup with Georgia.

When addressing a question from Finebaum about playing with what Finebaum called “the most powerful and explosive skill position players in the country,” the Tide quarterback was quick to offer his praise.

“That’s definitely a big reason why I chose to come here is just to play with guys like that who make you look better than you are,” he explained. “They go and make plays. Credit to the offensive line for doing their job, too, because it’s an 11-person operation, and they make it obviously a lot easier when you can just throw the ball up there, and they can get 10 or 15 yards like that. I think all of our skill players have done a great job.”

Jones did not hesitate to elaborate on what he really thinks sets that group apart.

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“Even when they don’t have the ball that’s what has really impressed me this year is like you see Smitty, Waddle, Miller, all those guys, Metchie, blocking on RPOs and things like that after the play,” he stated. “That just fires me up to see them getting in there and getting physical with guys that might be a lot bigger than they are. But they go in there, and they’re fearless. They kind of play like our offensive line plays so we’re all kind of in the same category of going out there and doing our jobs to the best of our ability.”

As for Alabama’s offensive line, Jones described their performance as “almost perfect all year.”

And he knows something about near perfection.

Jones has thrown for 1,101 yards with an astounding 80% completion rate, which is even more remarkable given the fact that he is leading the nation in yards per pass attempt. He is first in passing efficiency, as well.

The Crimson Tide enter the showdown against the Bulldogs leading the nation in scoring offense and ranking third in total offense.

PFF College has Jones as its highest-rated Power 5 quarterback.

He is fourth on ESPN’s Heisman Watch List.

Perhaps one of the reasons Jones has seen his offseason development translate to the field was the plan put in place by Alabama under COVID-19 restrictions.

The Crimson Tide program handled the situation well, according to Jones, because of the preparation by head coach Nick Saban.

“It was definitely hard,” Jones told Finebaum. “I think it goes back to Coach Saban, he’s always one step ahead. Right when we got sent home, we had everything planned out. Obviously there were some changes to the plan along the way but he did a great job just implementing what he wanted to do, and making sure that we stayed on top of what we needed to do just day-by-day, kind of taking that philosophy of ‘you gotta be ready as if we’re playing tomorrow.’ Every day you just have to prepare like that. If feel like everybody on our team did a really, really good job.”

With the epic matchup in Tuscaloosa looming, all eyes will be on Jones offense squaring off against the vaunted Georgia defense.

Kirk Herbstreit confirmed what everyone else sees in an appearance on the “ESPN College Football Podcast.”

“The only thing I know for sure is that Mac Jones and the Alabama offense against the Georgia defense, that side of the ball is going to live up to its billing,” stated Herbstreit. “That is what you are going to this game to watch.”

Jones offered his own summary of Saturday evening’s proceedings.

“At the end of the day, they have great players, we have great players so it comes down to execution and the team that’s the most prepared and ready to play will be the team that comes out on top,” he concluded.

RELATED: Kirk Herbstreit says one factor ‘could ultimately decide the outcome’ of Georgia vs. Bama

2 weeks ago

Gus Malzahn: Offensive line continuity ‘critical’ this week — ‘I think you’ll see improvement’

(Auburn Tigers/Facebook)

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn emphasized his team’s continued development on both sides of the ball at his Tuesday press conference.

Entering the fourth week of the season, Malzahn thinks each game has been valuable for his team’s improvement.

“Our goal is to get a little better each week,” he stated. “If we do that, we think that we think we’ll have a chance to be in the mix at the end. There’s not going to be a whole lot of teams to improve especially under these unusual circumstances this year.”

One of the ways Malzahn and his staff have sought to fuel that development is through more padded practices, even on Sundays.

While pointing out it has been helpful to all position groups, Malzahn mentioned a particular point of emphasis in the padded practices was adding depth along the line of scrimmage.

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“Trying to get those younger guys, all of them up front, and then our two junior college players and our two junior college players on the offensive line, too, to get them more reps,” he explained. “We’ve got a couple freshman on the offensive line that we feel like just needs more reps, too. Getting those guys developed for depth.”

He has found what he has seen on tape to be encouraging, as well.

“That’s been part of the process and our plan and develop more depth and get our guys ready,” said Malzahn. “You can see improvement even watching the film Sunday night after we went 16 plays or something you can see a couple guys starting to take that next step.”

After three games, the Tigers have scored five touchdowns on 10 red zone trips, but Malzahn hopes to see better offensive production across the board.

“Chad [Morris] is learning a lot about his guys,” Malzahn advised. “He’s got three games under his belt. Just like anything else, the offense will continue to improve each week, not just in red zone but third down and first down and all that. That’s the goal.”

Malzahn addressed the current construction of the offensive line, which has struggled at times this season. He indicated the mixing and matching of linemen caused by some injuries has been at the root of the problems.

He highlighted offensive tackle Austin Troxell’s being injured, a player Malzhan said had been really coming on. He also said the inability of a player like Brandon Council to settle into a single position has been challenging. Council has played three different positions along the line so far this year.

“I really believe that getting five guys, getting healthy up front, which this week will be healthier and getting those five guys set,” Malzahn offered. “I think it helps everything not just red zone and all that.”

Malzahn is eager to see five guys working for an entire week of practice at their best positions, creating continuity he called “so critical.”

“I think you’ll see improvement,” he stated.

Another position group that elicited an optimistic outlook from the Tigers’ head man was at wide receiver. He believes the snaps gained by Kobe Hudson, Ja’Varrius Johnson and Ze’Vian Capers have been valuable to their development.

“The more reps those guys get the better they are going to be,” Malzahn outlined. “We think they’re very talented, and I think those guys have done some good things so far. They’ve practiced extremely well. I think that’s a hungry group that really the moment is not going to be too big when they start playing more which is just a matter of time. I think their development is going really well right now.”

Auburn currently ranks 67th in total offense, averaging 329 yards per game. The Tigers are 62nd in scoring offense, averaging 22 points per game.

The Tigers’ game at South Carolina kicks off at 11:00 a.m. CT on ESPN.

2 weeks ago

Kirk Herbstreit says one factor ‘could ultimately decide the outcome’ of Georgia vs. Bama

(ESPN/YouTube)

Kirk Herbstreit did not make a pick on his weekly appearance on the “ESPN College Football Podcast.” He did, however, identify one factor which he thinks could make the difference in the outcome of Saturday’s much-anticipated matchup between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs.

Herbstreit and the rest of the ESPN “College Gameday” crew will be in Tuscaloosa this weekend as the No. 2 Crimson Tide host the No. 3 Bulldogs.

He sees what everyone else sees with the heavyweight matchup between the Alabama offense and the Georgia defense.

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“The only thing I know for sure is that Mac Jones and the Alabama offense against the Georgia defense, that side of the ball is going to live up to its billing,” he said. “That is what you are going to this game to watch.”

The Crimson Tide enter the showdown against the Bulldogs leading the nation in scoring offense and ranking third in total offense. Quarterback Mac Jones is leading the nation in passing efficiency by a fairly wide margin. He is second in passing yards per completion, averaging nearly 17 yards per completion.

Herbstreit named Tide offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian his top-performing coach of the week for his unit’s effort against Ole Miss.

RELATED: Saban previews epic matchup against ‘outstanding Georgia team’

The Bulldogs currently stand second in the country in total defense and fifth in scoring defense.

Yet, Herbstreit thinks another matchup could prove to be the key to the game.

“The other side of the ball may ultimately decide the outcome of the game,” he asserted. “How Stetson Bennett, with this new offense over the last couple of weeks, how they do against a defense that is reeling, could ultimately — the ball is in his hands in the fourth quarter and they’re down three or they’re down four and they need to go win the game — that ultimately could decide the outcome.”

Appearing on the podcast with Herbstreit, former Bulldog star David Pollack suggested that Bennett and the Georgia offense do not fit the bill of others which have given the Tide problems as recently as its shootout with Ole Miss.

“Alabama struggles with a mobile quarterback and tempo,” Pollack remarked. “Alabama couldn’t get lined up fast enough a lot of times because their tempo was so fast. And then the shifts, the motions, the pop passes, the play action, so many things to look at where it makes you think very fast, and Bama is the defense that wants to be in the perfect position all the time and it struggled to me. I didn’t understand why we can’t be more simplistic defensively and not have to try to do so much.”

Pollack sees a difference in style this weekend.

“Georgia isn’t that,” explained the former Bulldog defensive linemen. “Georgia doesn’t have Corral at quarterback who is a running back who can throw the football. Georgia doesn’t live in the tempo world. Styles make fights.”

Herbstreit echoed those comments that Georgia’s style of offense is not the same as those which typically present problems for Nick Saban’s defense.

“I think David is 100% right when it comes to the style of Georgia with what they have and how [offensive coordinator Todd] Monken wants to try to attack,” outlined Herbstreit. “It’s very different from what Alabama has had to go up against, and when they’ve had some issues just because the quarterback play is different. [Bennett’s] an athletic guy, but he’s not running the kind of system that Alabama has struggled with. If I’m Monken, though, based on what I’ve seen on film of Alabama’s defense, the kid is athletic, I might reach into that a little bit more, and I might crank the tempo up a little bit more because those are areas that they really struggled to defend last week. They don’t have Corral, but they do have a guy that’s a better athlete than people want to give him credit.”

During his Monday press conference, Saban also spoke approvingly of the job done at quarterback by Bennett, a former walk-on who sat as low as fourth on the preseason depth chart.

“He’s done an outstanding job,” offered Saban. “He’s played within himself, made good choices and decisions. They’ve had great balance in their offense, they’ve got good play-action passes.”

The Tide’s head man described Bennett along the lines of the game-managing quarterback which used to be a staple in Saban’s own system.

“He’s really just facilitated everything that he’s needed to do from his position to help all the other good players that they have make a lot of plays,” said Saban. “And he’s athletic. He’s extended plays at times. I think the guy has done an outstanding job and has really executed well for them.”

RELATED: Kirby Smart on what he learned from Saban, trying to stop Jaylen Waddle — ‘He’s electric’

2 weeks ago

Kirby Smart on what he learned from Saban, trying to stop Jaylen Waddle: ‘He’s electric’

georgiadogs.com

At his Monday press conference, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart was generous in his assessment of this year’s Crimson Tide team ahead of Saturday’s top three matchup, and he offered the highest praise to one Tide playmaker, in particular.

When asked what makes this version of the Alabama offense so prolific, Smart pointed to a mix of personnel and coaching.

“What has made them succeed is players,” he said. “They’ve got really good players. [Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian] does a great job of implementing a system that the kids can execute.”

Believing Najee Harris to be one of the best running backs in the country, Smart added that the Tide are “massive up front.”

“They make you defend the whole field,” he explained.

The Crimson Tide enters its showdown against the Bulldogs leading the nation in scoring offense and ranking third in total offense.

Perhaps the greatest factor in forcing teams to defend the whole field has been the play of Jaylen Waddle, someone Smart says requires significant game planning.

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“He’s as dynamic and electric as I’ve seen,” Smart said of the Tide’s leading wide receiver. “He touches the ball, you can see it on tape, it pops off. And it’s really not just special teams. They find ways all over the field to get him the ball. They move him around, they motion him, they give him touches every way you can. Shame on them if they don’t because he’s electric when he touches the ball. He’s just a really, really good football player. He’s tough. Man, he’s tough. He runs the ball tough. He’s physical. There’s a lot of challenges there for us with him. He creates a lot of issues.”

Waddle is third in the nation in receiving yards per game, averaging 132 yards per game, while also posing a threat on special teams.

This is the third week in a row that Alabama head coach Nick Saban faces a former assistant.

Last week’s game against Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin resulted in a revelation that some of those assistants are on a group text thread in which they talk about their former boss.

Kiffin took to Twitter on Monday to allege Smart had wished the thread remained confidential.

When asked about the text thread and Kiffin’s use of the “Fight Club” mantra, Smart laughed it off as being typical of Kiffin’s persona.

“That’s Lane being Lane,” Smart explained. “I’m not interested in that. He can do whatever he wants to do. He did it all last week. That’s Lane’s personality.”

As for the 0-21 record of Saban’s former assistants against their one-time boss, Smart sought to look at the larger picture.

“I don’t know anybody who has a good record against Coach Saban,” he remarked.

Smart did identify one area where he has learned the most from college football’s greatest coach.

“Focus on the task at hand,” he concluded. “I’ve thought he was always the master at that of not really having the highs and lows and emotional spells of a coach. Focus on what’s important now.”

2 weeks ago

Saban previews epic matchup against ‘outstanding Georgia team’

UA Athletics/Youtube

Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban will look across the field on Saturday and see one of his former assistant coaches for the third week in a row.

At his Monday press conference, Saban previewed the matchup and talked about the job Kirby Smart has done during his tenure at Georgia.

“This is an outstanding Georgia team,” outlined Saban. “Kirby has done an outstanding job there.”

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Having put up 44 points against Tennessee, more conversation than anticipated has revolved around Georgia’s offense following a slow start to the season.

“Offensively, they have been able to really control the ball. They are one of the leading teams in the country in time of possession,” Saban asserted.

The Bulldogs offense is currently ranked fifth in the nation in time of possession.

Saban also spoke approvingly of the job done at quarterback by Stetson Bennett, a former walk-on who sat as low as fourth on the preseason depth chart.

“He’s done an outstanding job,” offered Saban. “He’s played within himself, made good choices and decisions. They’ve had great balance in their offense, they’ve got good play-action passes.”

The Tide’s head man described Bennett along the lines of the game-managing quarterback which used to be a staple in Saban’s own system.

“He’s really just facilitated everything that he’s needed to do from his position to help all the other good players that they have make a lot of plays,” said Saban. “And he’s athletic, he’s extended plays at times. I think the guy has done an outstanding job and has really executed well for them.”

Yet, defense is still the calling card for Smart’s team, a unit Saban regarded as “maybe the best defensive team in the country.”

The numbers support Saban’s assertion, too. The Bulldogs currently stand second in the country in total defense and fifth in scoring defense.

As a former defensive coordinator to Saban, the comparison between the style of defenses played at each school is inevitable.

Saban indicated it is not that easy of a comparison to make.

“I think there are some similarities, but they have sort of progressed in what they do relative to the players they have,” he explained. “And I think they do it really, really well. They’ve got some new things and some different things that they do which is what we’re all trying to be able to grow and develop in. I think they have a veteran team. So when you have a veteran team on defense, I think you can do a little more. And I think they have taken good advantage of having good players who have experience and those guys execute those things extremely well.”

He also believes Georgia’s defense has adjusted its approach to handle evolving college football offenses.

“It is difficult, the run-pass conflicts that are created,” observed Saban. “But I think they’ve done as good a job as anybody of being able to make those adaptations.”

Smart’s defense faces its most stern test against a Tide offense operating at a break-neck pace.

The Crimson Tide lead the nation in scoring offense and are ranked third in total offense.

Quarterback Mac Jones is leading the nation in passing efficiency by a fairly wide margin. He is second in passing yards per completion, averaging nearly 17 yards per completion.

2 weeks ago

Former SEC coach Jackie Sherrill: ‘I’d take Georgia’s defense’ over Bama’s offense

(@GeorgiaFootball, @AlabamaFTBL/Twitter, YHN)

All eyes will be on the epic matchup between Alabama’s offense and Georgia’s defense in Saturday’s SEC game of the week.

Former Mississippi State and Texas A&M head coach Jackie Sherrill offered his take on the two stellar units during an appearance on “SEC This Morning” on Monday.

Sherrill was asked by host Peter Burns which unit he would rather be coaching, Alabama’s offense or Georgia’s defense, in this week’s game.

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“I’d take Georgia’s defense,” Sherrill said. “Defense always wins. Especially when you look at the road games.”

The Bulldogs will make the trip to Tuscaloosa this weekend.

Sherrill expressed his belief that even at the pro level, defense still matters, and battles along the lines of scrimmage are key even though the perception of what it takes to win has seemed to change.

“We like the pretty boys,” he concluded. “We don’t like the mudders.”

The average point total in the SEC last weekend was 33 points, according to the show’s co-host Chris Doering. The Crimson Tide are coming off two consecutive games in which it scored 52 or more points. The combined scored in its game against Ole Miss was 111 points. The 1,370 yards off total offense was the most in an SEC game in the conference’s history.

This type of offensive production has brought about a change in defensive philosophy, according to Sherrill.

“Nick [Saban] went through that at one time,” he explained. “He ended up having the big defensive linemen. The one at one time was a nose guard who was about 350 pounds. But all of a sudden he realized that in our game today we have to have the mobile defensive linemen. But we also have to have two, sometimes three-deep to finish out the game against the style that’s being played.”

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones continues to lead the nation in passing efficiency by a fairly wide margin. He is second in passing yards per completion.

Alabama leads the nation in scoring offense, while Georgia ranks fifth in scoring defense. The Bulldogs currently stand second in total defense, while the Tide are ranked third in total offense.

2 months ago

‘Behold: the most powerful rocket booster ever built for flight’ – NASA test fires Space Launch System

(NASA)

Earlier this week, NASA and Northrop Grumman fired up a Space Launch System (SLS) support booster, producing more than 3 million pounds of thrust.

The full-scale booster test in the Utah desert lasted a little over two minutes and provided valuable insight into the performance of boosters which will power future Artemis missions, a series of flights to the moon and beyond powered by SLS.

The SLS program, which will result in the most powerful rocket ever built, is managed out of Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

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While Artemis I boosters are being prepared for launch at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the test fire in Utah will aid NASA in preparing for missions occurring after Artemis III.

RELATED: Dynetics finishes critical hardware for NASA’s Space Launch System

“NASA is simultaneously making progress on assembling and manufacturing the solid rocket boosters for the first three Artemis missions and looking ahead toward missions beyond the initial Moon landing,” said John Honeycutt, the SLS Program Manager at Marshall. “Today marks the first flight support booster test to confirm the rocket motor’s performance using potential new materials for Artemis IV and beyond.”

“This flight support booster test is the first motor firing NASA and Northrop Grumman have completed since qualifying the booster design for the Space Launch System rocket,” said Bruce Tiller, SLS boosters office manager at Marshall. “Full-scale booster tests are rare, so NASA tries to test multiple objectives at one time so we are highly confident that any changes we make to the boosters will still enable them to perform as expected on launch day.”

SLS has been billed as the only rocket powerful enough to carry the Orion spacecraft, astronauts and supplies to the moon in one launch.

“Landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon is just the beginning of NASA’s Artemis Program,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “The SLS flight support booster firing is a crucial part of sustaining missions to the Moon. NASA’s goal is to take what we learn living and working on the Moon and use it to send humans on the first missions to Mars.”

RELATED: ‘From Alabama to the Moon’ — Richard Shelby is the driving force making America’s space dreams a reality

2 months ago

Alabama’s DataPerk makes third acquisition in five years, eyes continued growth

(Dataperk Technology Solutions/Contributed, Wikicommons, YHN)

The Alabama-based technology solutions company DataPerk has made its third acquisition in five years.

The company has acquired ByteSize, one of its competitors in the local market, according to a release from the company.

Founded in 2001 by Troy Wallwork, DataPerk offers a wide range of services, including web design and hosting, network design and cabling, and hardware and software support.

ByteSize was founded by Jerry Feld in the Birmingham area in 1985.

Wallwork envisions his company delivering the same quality service to its new customer base.

“Our goal was is to continue the legacy of customer service that Jerry worked so diligently to maintain for over 30 years,” he said.

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Wallwork told Yellowhammer News that while his company does not have a particular vertical, it does have a significant customer base in the legal, healthcare and manufacturing sectors.

DataPerk can customize a plan for businesses seeking to build or upgrade their technology infrastructure, Wallwork noted.

“We always recommend a thorough analysis and comprehensive plan and roadmap,” he explained. “Even if you can’t afford to implement all aspects at once, an understanding of the critical aspects such as connectivity and security and how they fit into your overall plan is crucial.”

As an expert in the industry, Wallwork also sees the urgency in Alabama’s effort to expand access to high-speed internet.

“I’ve long been a proponent of universal access to broadband,” he stated. “Now with Covid-19 and remote learning it has become even more important. Having the infrastructure in place to support both the young minds that become future leaders and the opportunity to create jobs in those areas is crucial for our future. I feel it is important to remove barriers such as limited connectivity to level the playing field.”

This is the third acquisition for DataPerk in the past five years. The company also acquired IT Express, which focused on providing computer consulting services for many law firms in Birmingham and Mobile, as well as VentureNet in Birmingham.

DataPerk maintains offices in Birmingham and Mobile.

2 months ago

Colin Cowherd says SEC has ‘winning’ strategy — ‘This is a health crisis. You manage it, you don’t panic’

(@ColinCowherd/Twitter, Southeastern Conference/Facebook, YHN)

Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd pointed to the SEC’s plan as the winning strategy for college football’s major conferences in navigating the challenges presented by COVID-19.

Cowherd also spoke at length on his Tuesday radio show about his belief that unjustified panic from sports media members has made the situation more difficult.

“The media too often seeks negative over positive, never considers the ramifications of business, that’s why many people in the media are losing their jobs now,” he remarked. “I believe this entire COVID is managing it, trying to find the bright lights and the silver clouds. It’s a pandemic. We’re in the middle of it. It’s difficult. Don’t panic.”

He asserted that excessive negativity has colored much of the reporting in sports.

“I am seeking people that give me good information that don’t panic,” said Cowherd. “I have seen so much panicking in the media, and that doesn’t solve anything.”

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Using several instances in sports this summer, the longtime sports radio host outlined his belief that overreaction in sports has been the rule, so far.

One example, he said, was the NFL’s decision to proceed with the draft.

“A reporter at the other network said, ‘There will be blood in the streets’ if you hold the draft,” explained Cowherd.

The result, according to Cowherd, was the most entertaining NFL draft ever.

“The NFL just managed it,” he said. “They didn’t panic.”

Cowherd rattled off NASCAR, professional golf, UFC, and major league baseball as having effectively managed their situations after numerous positive tests.

“Baseball had some positive tests,” he said. “What happened? The media panicked and said you should cancel the season.

“What have we seen over and over in this: media panicking.”

Citing an ESPN report that Big Ten coaches and athletics directors are furious at the conference for prematurely canceling the season, Cowherd held the SEC out as having taken the correct approach in determining whether it should play.

“We’re managing our way through this, and aggressive is winning,” conveyed Cowherd. “Petrified, panic, stay home, that’s not winning. Hiding is not winning. I’m just talking sports, what has worked through this is not expecting perfection, understanding you are going to have positive tests, social distancing, mask wearing, bubbles or semi-bubbles wherever it’s possible and work your way through it. This is a health crisis. You manage it, you don’t panic, you find the silver lining, you figure out how to keep people working.

“Maybe the Big Ten made a massive mistake. Aggressive is winning. Managing this thing is winning.”

2 months ago

ESPN’s McShay proposes college football mini-season in Mobile

(@DMcCarthy_USA/Twitter, City of Mobile/Contributed, YHN)

ESPN analyst Todd McShay is proposing a mini-season for draft-eligible college football players, and he wants it to be played in Mobile.

McShay’s proposal is in response to what he sees as a lack of opportunity for players facing canceled college football seasons, as well as his opinion that a spring football season is unreasonable.

As one of the primary NFL draft analysts for ESPN, McShay has said he wants to create resume-building opportunities for players in conferences who have canceled their seasons.

McShay outlined on the “Ryen Russillo Podcast” on Tuesday exactly how essential the Senior Bowl is to his pre-draft scouting.

“Nothing more do I benefit from than the three practices in Mobile, Alabama,” he said.

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In controversial moves last week, the Big Ten and Pac-12 have canceled their football seasons. The SEC, ACC and Big 12 moved forward with plans to play beginning in September.

RELATED: Beware — The Big Ten and Pac-12 have put a hit out on the SEC’s season

With many players losing the ability to add to their game tape, McShay explained how he reached out to an old friend to see if there was a way to help both players and talent evaluators.

“What I proposed to Jim Nagy, who is the executive director of the Senior Bowl, and I worked with him when I was an intern coming out of college and we’ve been friends for twenty years now, is expanding it,” McShay said. “I would love to see three weeks, maybe only two weeks. Whatever it is, creating a bubble in Mobile.”

Expanding on the existing Senior Bowl format, his proposal includes a mini-season of practices and multiple games between a select group of draft-eligible players, all of which could be televised.

Citing a benefit to players and NFL teams, as well as a potential television deal, McShay concluded, “Everyone wins if this happens.”

In the midst of pressure from players and their families, and its member institutions, there are reports that the Big Ten is formalizing a proposal to play football beginning in January.

McShay expressed his doubts that such a proposal will end up becoming a reality.

“It’s just not going to work … any big-name player you are thinking about who is draft-eligible, cross them off, he’s not playing,” he noted. “I’ve seen the proposals … none of it works.”

He said having to play what could amount to 26 games in nine months would put too much of a toll on players’ bodies, so would advise any player who projects in the first four rounds of the NFL draft to not play in the spring.

Rece Davis, ESPN College Gameday host and University of Alabama graduate, offered similar sentiments earlier in the week on the ESPN “College Football Podcast.”

When asked about the Big Ten’s plan for a spring season, Davis remarked, “I think the notion is ludicrous because so much has gone into player safety.”

He asserted that strength and conditioning programs are not designed to prepare players for two seasons in a single calendar year.

“It doesn’t make any sense to try to condense two seasons [into 2021] even if they’re truncated, unless you ridiculously truncate them like four games in the spring and ten games in the fall,” Davis said. “Then maybe that’s a different thing but I’m not sure anyone is signing up for that to begin with so I don’t think we’re going to see college football played in the spring.”

While the Big Ten is struggling to come up with a coherent message or plan, Davis said leadership in the SEC has been steady.

“I think that Greg Sankey has been prudent and wise and patient more than anything else,” he observed.

3 months ago

Alabama project management firm ranked among nation’s top 25

(HPM/Contributed, YHN)

Birmingham-based HPM was ranked number 22 on ENR’s Top 50 Program Management Firms, a list of the top U.S. construction management firms.

The ranking is based on agency fees for multi-project construction programs. HPM took the largest jump in the rankings of any firm during the last 12 months.

“This significant jump in ENR’s rankings is a true testament to our firm’s ability to take risks and insert ourselves into new markets,” said HPM president Mike Lanier in a release from the company. “We started as a small local firm in Birmingham and have grown to build a portfolio of successful projects in aerospace, sports, education and more across the country, establishing ourselves as leaders among some of the biggest names in construction and commercial real estate.”

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RELATED: Progress continues on Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center, HPM managing construction

The firm’s footprint now expands across a wide swath of the Sun Belt and continues to grow as it takes on new projects and personnel. Some of HPM’s recent projects include the A320 and A220 assembly lines for the Airbus campus in Mobile, CoolToday Park (the official Atlanta Braves spring training facility) in North Port, FL, and Louis Pizitz Middle School (part of Vestavia Hills City Schools) in Birmingham.

Founded in 1997, HPM provides comprehensive guidance to clients on the construction and development process and offers “a one-stop approach to complete program management and owner’s representation.”

4 months ago

Watch: Red panda celebrates 10th birthday at Birmingham Zoo

(Birmingham Zoo/Facebook)

Sorrel, a female red panda at the Birmingham Zoo, has had a tough time of it over the last year.

In March, Sorrel’s fellow red panda at the zoo passed away suddenly.

Parker, a four-year-old male, was found deceased one morning with no obvious physical injuries or any indication of illness.

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Parker the red panda (Courtesy: Scott Kayser, the Birmingham Zoo)

Sorrel experienced another tragedy in June 2019.

Almost a year ago exactly, Sorrel gave birth to a stillborn cub. This came days before her ninth birthday.

This week, however, brought a much happier milestone.

On Monday, Sorrel celebrated her 10th birthday.

In a video posted on social media by the zoo, she can be seen enjoying an animal-friendly birthday cake.

Watch:

The zoo also reopened last week for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit Alabama. Read more about the zoo’s current operations here.

Red pandas are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.

5 months ago

Coastal Alabama prepares for heavy rain, storm surge as Cristobal heads toward landfall

NOAA

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for extreme southwest Alabama as Cristobal is expected to make landfall Sunday evening.

The National Hurrican Center warns conditions will deteriorate throughout the day as coastal flooding, dangerous surf and a high risk of rip currents are expected.

The environment has become favorable for brief tornadoes near the immediate coast. The tornado threat will gradually spread inland across southwest Alabama & southeast Mississippi Sunday afternoon and evening.

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Maximum sustained winds in Cristobal remain at 50 mph, as of Sunday morning. Cristobal continues to track northward with a forward speed of around 12 mph, as it moves closer to the Louisiana coastline.

No significant strengthening is forecast prior to the landfall of Cristobal’s circulation center later today.

Dangerous surf conditions and rip currents have been observed on Dauphin Island.

The National Weather Service in Mobile issued several warnings regarding the extreme rainfall that is expected:

“Here are the key messages: Dangerous surf with 9-12 foot breakers and a HIGH rip current risk will persist well after landfall, through at least midweek. Coastal flooding with around 3 feet of inundation in northern Mobile Bay, 2-3 feet across coastal Alabama, and 1-3 feet across northwest Florida is likely Sunday and Monday during high tide (morning and afternoon). Heavy rainfall of 4-8″ with higher amounts up to 10″ possible, mainly across southeast Mississippi and coastal Alabama. Tropical storm force winds will begin this morning along the coast. The greatest chance of sustained tropical storm force winds is in coastal Alabama, with tropical storm force gusts mostly likely over northwest Florida and southeast Mississippi. Lastly, a few tornadoes are possible within rain bands through tonight. Continue to monitor the latest forecasts.”

6 months ago

Watch: Nick Saban surprises 103-year-old WWII veteran with Facetime call

(Nick's Kids Foundation, Rick Karle WVTM 13/Facebook, YHN)

It takes a lot to impress a 103-year-old World War II veteran who landed on the beaches of Normandy. Alabama head coach Nick Saban pulled it off earlier this month when he surprised the American hero with a call.

WVTM 13’s Rick Karle reported Major Wooten’s encounter with Saban and posted video of the scene on his social media accounts on Thursday.

Watch:

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Here is what Karle wrote:

Major Wooten (yes, Major is his first name) is a World War II hero from Cullman who is in hopice, his heart giving out after what has been a wonderful life. Back in the 40’s, Major Wooten landed in Utah Beach and helped liberate hundreds as he marched through France near the end of the war.

One of Mr. Wooten’s dreams has been to meet Coach Nick Saban- his planned meeting with the coach was dashed weeks ago when COVID-19 hit. His chances of meeting the coach dwindled, as his days were numbered.

It looked as if Mr. Wooten would leave us last Saturday. As his family huddled and prayed, something amazing happened: Mr. Wooten climbed back, and God gave him another chance to talk with Coach Saban.

Yesterday morning came the call: It was the the UA Athletics department!
Could it be? Could Nick Saban be standing by to talk to this hero?
The answer was “yes”, and soon after that call, Mr. Wooten and the coach were chatting (click the video to hear the conversation) alongside family members in Alabama and Florida.

I pray that Major Wooten has many days remaining, but if he leaves us soon, he will leave us content in knowing that he served his country, he loved the Alabama football team and just when he thought it would never happen, he chatted with Coach Nick Saban.

6 months ago

Alabama’s HPM hires senior manager with 35 years in design and construction

(Hoar Program Management/Contributed,

Birmingham-based HPM recently announced the hiring of industry veteran Bruce Quisno as the company’s newest senior program development manager, according to a release from the company.

Founded in 1997, HPM provides comprehensive guidance to clients on the construction and development process and offers “a one-stop approach to complete program management and owner’s representation.”

HPM says Quisno will provide strategic leadership and direction for new and developing client engagements while serving as a key component between business development and the operational phases of an assignment.

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“Bruce’s diverse background, deep connections in the industry, and ability to see through the lens of the owner make him an extremely valuable addition to our leadership team,” said Greg Ellis, vice president of program development at HPM. “His can-do personality and passion for cultivating strong client relationships have served him well throughout his career, and those traits will play an integral role moving forward as HPM prepares to enter new markets and expand our service offerings. We look forward to seeing Bruce apply his strategic leadership skills as he helps guide us into the next chapter of our growth story.”

Quisno, a registered architect with more than 35 years of experience in design and construction, most recently served as vice president of retail at CR architecture + design in Cincinnati, where he directed strategy and execution for the firm’s national retail teams. He spent 20 years as vice president of construction at Macy’s, where he managed projects for Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s Southeast, South Central and Midwest regions. He led design and construction efforts for new stores in both Hawaii (Bloomingdale’s) and Puerto Rico (Macy’s), as well as supervising the design and construction of a 2.2 million-square-foot fulfillment center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“I’m thrilled to join the team at HPM and look forward to building upon its strong foundation of integrity and creative, client-focused solutions,” said Quisno. “My background and prior experience provide key advantages for building holistic strategies that are responsive to the needs of owners and help generate meaningful results. Now more than ever, program managers must rise to meet the emerging challenges in our industry while identifying new opportunities to add value for clients. I’m grateful for the firm’s confidence and look forward to hitting the ground running.”

6 months ago

Read it for yourself: The proposal to reopen Alabama’s economy immediately

(W.Miller/YHN)

Formed by Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) and chaired by State Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville), the Alabama Small Business Commission Emergency Task Force’s “Subcommittee to Reopen the Economy” on Friday released its plan to begin getting Alabamians back to work.

Entitled “Reopening Alabama Responsibly Phase One,” the plan was unveiled in a press conference by Ainsworth and Garrett at the State House in Montgomery.

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The plan has been presented to Governor Kay Ivey, who ultimately controls when Alabama’s economy can reopen.

The plan recommends many sectors of the economy get back to work “immediately,” including retail; close-contact services such as barbershops and salons; and restaurants (but not bars). Others, such as beaches, would reopen May 1. Social distancing and protective measures would be put in place for all areas covered by the report, hence the word “responsibly” in the plan’s title.

You can read the full report here.

Yellowhammer News will also breakdown the report’s contents in a separate article.

7 months ago

‘Don’t let the corona get on ya!’ — Alabama retirees sing during COVID-19 crisis

(Wesley Gardens/Facebook)

An Alabama retirement community shared a helpful message on social media this week amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In a video posted on Facebook, residents of Wesley Gardens Retirement Community in Montgomery joined with facility driver Lee McBryde (while practicing social distancing by staying six steps away) to dance and sing some important lyrics during the COVID-19 crisis such as properly washing hands and covering up when coughing and sneezing to help prevent the spread.

“Don’t let the corona get on ya!” McBryde sang as residents danced around him while holding containers of disinfectant wipes.

Watch:

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7 months ago

Auburn University launches website for coronavirus resources

(Pixabay, YHN)

Auburn University on Friday announced that it has launched a website on coronavirus-related topics as a helpful resource for the public.

Through the new website, Auburn researchers share their expertise regarding healthcare, the economy, community impacts and education. The site is intended to support Alabamians and people across the country as they navigate the landscape inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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To access the site, click here.

The university will finish its spring 2020 semester via online instruction. Spring commencement has been combined with the summer commencement, scheduled for August 8-9.

Summer courses will also only be offered online for at least sessions 1 and 2.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is now providing real-time updates of the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the state. You can view that information here.

RELATED: Keep up with Alabama’s confirmed coronavirus cases, locations here

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

8 months ago

Video: Look inside Blue Origin’s new Huntsville rocket engine plant

(Blue Origin/Twitter)

Blue Origin officially opened its Huntsville manufacturing facility on Monday. The company will use the facility to manufacture its BE-4 rocket engines.

The opening was lauded by numerous industry leaders and Alabama’s elected officials across social media platforms.

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Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine will power United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan rocket built in Decatur.

Watch this video produced by Blue Origin providing a sneak peek inside the pristine facility:

9 months ago

Auburn cruises past South Carolina to get back on winning track

(Auburn Basketball/Twitter)

The No. 16 Auburn Tigers basketball team returned to its winning ways with a decisive 80-67 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks on Wednesday night.

Auburn got a boost from small forward Isaac Okoro at the end of a strange first half when Okoro barely beat the buzzer on a tip in. After a sluggish start to the game, Okoro’s basket gave the Tigers a 39-31 lead into the locker room and also provided the Tigers with much-needed momentum going into the second half.

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The catalyst for Auburn was a breakout performance from freshman guard Devan Cambridge, who went for 26 points, including a six of nine performance from behind the three-point line. Coming into Wednesday’s contest, Cambridge had been averaging 10.4 points per game and 25% from three-point range.

Between Cambridge finding his stroke, and Auburn’s ability to really lock down on defense in the final 20 minutes, the game went comfortably toward Auburn for most of the second half.

The Tigers improved to 16-2 overall and 4-2 in the SEC.

Following its two losses last week, Auburn had dropped to a predicted No. 4 seed in the latest NCAA tournament prediction from ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. Lunardi’s “Bracketology” is a weekly feature slotting teams according to similar metrics used by the tournament selection committee to make its seedings.

Head coach Bruce Pearl’s squad faces off next with Iowa State on Saturday morning in Auburn Arena as part of the Big 12/SEC challenge. The Cyclones are 9-9 on the season and currently seventh in the Big 12 standings.