In & around SEC basketball

February 15, 2018 chris
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By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent

Auburn Week 7 Review
Auburn responded to its first home loss of the year by winning consecutive games by double digits. First, the Tigers dominated Georgia, 78-61, on the road and did so without leading scorer Bryce Brown. Auburn followed up that win a 76-66 home win over Kentucky. The Wildcats challenged Auburn throughout and led in the second half, but the Tigers took over down the stretch to increase its lead in the SEC back to two games over Tennessee. Auburn improved to 23-3 overall and 11-2 in conference play. The Tigers travel to Columbia to take on South Carolina on Saturday (Feb. 17) before a rematch with Alabama next week.
Alabama Week 7 Review
The Crimson Tide put together their best back-to-back performances of the year with a pair of blowout home wins over Tennessee and LSU. The win over the Volunteers was especially impressive considering UT had won nine of 10 entering the matchup at Coleman Coliseum. Alabama walked away with a 78-50 win and followed that up with an 80-65 win over LSU. Avery Johnson’s team is safely in the NCAA Tournament as of now, and it would take a monumental collapse for them to miss out on the Big Dance. Alabama improved to 17-9 overall and 8-5 in league play and travel to Lexington to take on Kentucky on Saturday.

SEC rankings
1. Auburn (23-3, 11-2)
2. Tennessee (19-6, 9-4)
3. Florida (17-9, 8-5)
4. Missouri (18-8, 7-6)
5. Alabama (17-9, 8-5)
6. Texas A&M (17-9, 6-7)
7. Kentucky (17-9, 6-7)
8. Mississippi State (18-8, 6-7)
9. Arkansas (18-8, 7-6)
10. Georgia (14-11, 5-8)
11. South Carolina (13-13, 4-9)
12. LSU (14-11, 5-8)
13. Ole Miss (11-15, 4-9)
14. Vanderbilt (10-16, 4-9)

Week 8 Preview and Predictions
Week 7: 9-3; Season: 36-23
Saturday, Feb. 17
Game of the Week: Alabama at Kentucky. For the first time in John Calipari’s tenure at Kentucky, the Wildcats are on a four-game losing streak. This might be the worst team Calipari’s had at Kentucky, and while ‘Cats will still likely make the NCAA Tournament, they aren’t one of the best teams in the country, or even in the SEC. Alabama is playing its best ball right now but have lost eight straight games to Kentucky and they have not won in Lexington since 2006. Prediction: Kentucky 70, Alabama 67.
Missouri at LSU. Missouri might be the hottest team in the SEC right now, and it’s possible the Tigers could get star freshman Michael Porter back from in-jury before the end of the season. Missouri has won five straight games and is in position to reach the NCAA Tournament after being the worst team in the league for the last three years. LSU is in a rebuilding year during Will Wade’s first season but has been a tough team to beat at home this year. Prediction: Missouri 74, LSU 68.
Auburn at South Carolina. Auburn is close to locking up the regular season championship and essentially has a three-game lead over Tennessee, since the Tigers beat the Vols head-to-head. South Carolina is a tough opponent at home, but AU has played well on the road this year. These two teams play twice over the last three weeks and they are the two wins Auburn needs if it wants to secure a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Prediction: Auburn 77, South Carolina 71.
Texas A&M at Arkansas. The Aggies had won four straight games before falling at Missouri, and they’re finally looking like one of the best teams in the SEC. Texas A&M dominated Kentucky, South Carolina and Arkansas during that winning streak and also won an impressive road game at Auburn. As of now, Arkansas would be in the NCAA Tournament, but the Hogs have a brutal schedule down the stretch, including games against Kentucky, Alabama, Auburn and Missouri. A couple of wins would solidify Arkansas a spot in the tournament, but a losing streak could have the Razorbacks on the outside looking in. Prediction: Texas A&M 78, Arkansas 76.
Florida at Vanderbilt. Florida led Georgia for most of the game, but the Gators blew a six-point lead with less than 30 seconds remaining. The Gators are loaded with talent but they’re inconsistent and don’t defend particularly well. Mike White still has an NCAA Tournament team, but the Gators don’t look as good as the squad that made the Elite Eight a season ago. Vanderbilt has a great home court advantage, and the Commodores are capable of pulling off the upset if Florida doesn’t play well. Prediction: Florida 83, Vanderbilt 77.
Tennessee at Georgia. Tennessee responded to its blowout loss at Alabama with a close home win over South Carolina. Georgia picked up a much-needed road win at Florida to keep its slim tournament chances alive. If the Bulldogs can beat Tennessee on Saturday, it would give them a chance down the stretch. Prediction: Tennessee 76, Georgia 73.
Ole Miss at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs’ NCAA Tournament chances suffered a crushing blow after an 81-80 loss to Vanderbilt. Vandy guard Riley LaChance hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Commodores the win, and now Mississippi State needs a very strong finish to the year to make it to the tournament. Ole Miss is at the bottom of the standings in the SEC, and head coach Andy Kennedy announced he will step down at the end of the year. Kennedy has led the Rebels to two NCAA Tournament appearances and has the most wins in school history. Prediction: Mississippi State 81, Ole Miss 73.
Tuesday, Feb. 20
Texas A&M 77, Mississippi State 68
Missouri 82, Ole Miss 74
Arkansas 71, Kentucky 66
LSU 67, Vanderbilt 62
Wednesday, Feb. 21
South Carolina 62, Georgia 60
Auburn 79, Alabama 75
Tennessee 80, Florida 75