By Cole Frederick
Auburn and Alabama Week 3 Review
The Tigers pulled away from Alabama in the second half on Jan. 18, winning 84-64 behind dynamic performances from a pair of true freshmen in Mustapha Heron and Austin Wiley. Heron finished with 15 points, while Wiley had the best game of his young career as he finished with 19 points and nine rebounds. Freshman Braxton Key scored 18 points for the Crimson Tide (11-7, 4-2). The game was tied at half time. Auburn (13-7, 3-5) started to pull away halfway through the second half and won the first of two meetings between the two rivals. Auburn followed up that victory with a 98-69 road loss at South Carolina. Auburn travels to Fort Worth. Tex., to take on TCU in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge this Saturday (Jan. 28). Alabama hosts Mississippi State.
SEC basketball rankings
1. Kentucky (17-3, 7-1)
2. South Carolina (16-4, 6-1)
3. Florida (14-5, 5-2)
4. Arkansas (16-4, 5-3)
5. Georgia (12-7, 4-3)
6. Mississippi State (12-6, 3-3)
7. Ole Miss (12-7, 3-4)
8. Auburn (13-7, 3-5)
9. Alabama (11-7, 4-2)
10. Tennessee (11-9, 4-4)
11. Vanderbilt (9-11, 2-5)
12. Texas A&M (10-8, 2-5)
13. LSU (9-9, 1-6)
14. Missouri (5-13, 0-6)
Week 4 Previews and Predictions
Week 3: 7-3
Saturday, Jan. 28
SEC/Big 12 Challenge
Game of the Week
Kansas at Kentucky. Both teams are coming off of road losses from earlier this week, but these remain two of the best teams in college basketball. Kentucky and Kansas are first and second in total wins in college basketball history, respectively. The teams squared off in the 2012 national championship game, with Kentucky prevailing over the Jayhawks. Bill Self previously defeated John Calipari’s Memphis Tigers in the 2008 national championship game. Kentucky probably possesses more overall talent, though Kansas is also a title contender. Home court advantage might be crucial for the Wildcats on Saturday. Prediction: Kentucky 85, Kansas 82.
Texas A&M at West Virginia. West Virginia has one of the best home court advantages in the country and dominated top-ranked Kansas at home earlier this week. The Mountaineers are known for their full-court pressure, which can be problematic for teams with below-average guard play. Texas A&M has had a disappointing season thus far, and it’s unlikely they’ll be able to win on the road in Morgantown. Prediction: West Virginia 77, Texas A&M 62.
Florida at Oklahoma. Despite losing back-to-back games to South Carolina and Vanderbilt, the Gators still have a solid NCAA Tournament resume. Oklahoma has been playing much better in recent weeks, but Florida must find a way to win this game on the road. Prediction: Florida 80, Oklahoma 76.
LSU at Texas Tech. LSU is in the midst of another disappointing season under Johnny Jones, and unless the Tigers quickly turn things around, this could be his last season in Baton Rouge. Prediction: Texas Tech 75, LSU 68.
Kansas State at Tennessee. Tennessee has perhaps the best win of any team in the league so far this year after defeating Kentucky last week, but the Volunteers have been very sporadic this season. Kansas State presents a big challenge for the Vols, but Tennessee is a much better team at home than on the road. Prediction: Kansas State 72, Tennessee 71.
Arkansas at Oklahoma State. Arkansas has been surprisingly good on the road this season, and road struggles crippled Mike Anderson’s teams in the past. This isn’t necessarily a must-win game for the Hogs, but a road win at a decent Oklahoma State team definitely wouldn’t hurt their NCAA Tournament chances. Prediction: Oklahoma State 93, Arkansas 88.
Texas at Georgia. The Bulldogs are a middle-of-the-road team in the SEC and desperately need big wins and must avoid bad losses if they want a chance at another NCAA Tournament berth. Losing to Texas at home wouldn’t good look for Mark Fox’s team. Prediction: Georgia 67, Texas 61.
Iowa State at Vanderbilt. The Commodores are one of the hardest teams in the SEC to figure out. They followed up an impressive win at Florida with a bad loss at home to Arkansas. Iowa State is a tournament-caliber team, but Vandy is still capable of winning, depending on which Vandy team shows up. Prediction: Iowa State 75, Vanderbilt 70.
Auburn at TCU. Auburn’s road woes continued at South Carolina, and the Tigers have another tough road test this week against the Horned Frogs. TCU is fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid and can’t afford to lose at home to Auburn. Prediction: TCU 71, Auburn 65.
Baylor at Ole Miss. The Rebels have a chance to add a win over a top-10 team this weekend as the Bears visit Oxford. Ole Miss’ resume is relatively bland, with no good wins or bad losses. This is a great opportunity to bolster its NCAA Tournament chances. Prediction: Baylor 76, Ole Miss 67.
Mississippi State at Alabama. The Crimson Tide already defeated the Bulldogs, 68-58, on the road earlier this season. Neither team is in position to reach the NCAA Tournament at this point unless they put together a major winning streak, but a postseason berth isn’t out of the question for either squad. Prediction: Alabama 65, Mississippi State 61.
South Carolina at Missouri. As long as the Gamecocks can avoid bad losses – and a loss to Missouri certainly would constitute as a bad loss – they should end their 13-year NCAA Tournament drought this season. Prediction: South Carolina 76, Missouri 65.
Tuesday, Jan. 31
Ole Miss 78, Mississippi State 74
Auburn 84, Tennessee 77
Kentucky 88, Georgia 72
Texas A&M 66, Vanderbilt 63
Wednesday, Feb. 1
Arkansas 72, Alabama 68
South Carolina 75, LSU 67
Thursday, Feb. 2
Florida 79, Missouri 58