By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Alabama Week 6 Review
For the first time in nearly three decades, Alabama beat Vanderbilt in Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville. Granted, the Commodores are winless in the SEC this season, but it was still a solid performance for the Crimson Tide. However, UA followed up that win with a disappointing performance in an 81-62 loss to Mississippi State in Starkville. Still, Alabama is 6-5 in the SEC and 15-9 overall, and Avery Johnson’s team remains in position to reach the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. Alabama hosts Florida on Saturday (Feb. 16) in a pivotal matchup for both teams.
Auburn Week 6 Review
After winning three consecutive home games, the Tigers dropped back-to-back contests to fall below .500 in the SEC. Auburn led LSU at the half in Baton Rouge but this hosts stormed back for a five-point victory. Bruce Pearl’s team followed that up with a disappointing 60-55 home loss to Ole Miss. The Rebels swept the season series, and the loss sent Auburn to 16-8 overall and 5-6 in league play. The Tigers travel to Nashville on Saturday for a matchup with Vanderbilt.
SEC basketball rankings
1. Tennessee (23-1, 11-0)
2. Kentucky (20-4, 9-2)
3. LSU (20-4, 10-1)
4. Auburn (16-8, 5-6)
5. Alabama (15-9, 6-5)
6. Mississippi State (17-7, 5-6)
7. Ole Miss (17-7, 7-4)
8. Arkansas (14-10, 5-6)
9. South Carolina (12-12, 7-4)
10. Florida (13-11, 5-6)
11. Missouri (12-11, 3-8)
12. Texas A&M (10-13, 3-8)
13. Georgia (10-14, 1-10)
14. Vandeerbilt (9-15, 0-11)
Week 7 Previews and Predictions
Season record: 43-15
Saturday, Feb. 16
Game of the Week: Tennessee at Kentucky. This matchup lost a bit of its luster when Kentucky was upset at home by LSU, but these are still two of the best teams in college basketball. Tennessee has not lost in two months, and the Volunteers have been cruising through the SEC. This Saturday’s game at Rupp Arena will be the Vols’ most challenging game yet, however, as both teams are aiming for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Te-nnessee has more veteran players than Kentucky but the Wildcats are capable of beating anyone in college basketball. Prediction: Kentucky 82, Tennessee 78.
Auburn at Vanderbilt. Much like Alabama, Au-burn has not had much success at Memorial Gymnasium in recent years. The Tigers are much more talented than the Commodores this season but have been a bad road team. Auburn only has one true road win, and the Tigers have not shot the ball well away from home. AU is not in jeopardy of missing the NCAA Tournament, but a loss to Vanderbilt would certainly hurt their seeding in March. Prediction: Auburn 73, Vanderbilt 67.
Texas A&M at South Carolina. The Gamecocks remain a longshot to reach the NCAA Tournament since they are 12-12 on the season, but South Carolina has an opportunity to earn some wins over the next few weeks to get onto the bubble. It might take a 13-5 conference record to give the Gamecocks a chance, which doesn’t leave them much room for error since they currently are 7-4 in the SEC. At any rate, South Carolina must take care of business Saturday against the Aggies. Prediction: South Carolina 70, Texas A&M 65.
Florida at Alabama. This matchup could have major NCAA Tournament ramifications in March, as both teams are hovering around the bubble. Florida has much more work to do than Alabama, and the Gators have an opportunity to earn a Quadrant 1 win this weekend in Tuscaloosa. Alabama has been excellent at home in league play this season, and a win over Flo-rida would give them some breathing room. Prediction: Alabama 67, Florida 62.
Missouri at Ole Miss. The Rebels had a blistering start to the conference sche-dule but hit a lull a couple of weeks ago. However, Mississippi drastically improved its chances of making the NCAA Tournament with a 60-55 road victory at Auburn, which might be their best win of the season. Regardless, Ole Miss cannot afford to slip up at home to Missouri. Prediction: Ole Miss 85, Missouri 77.
LSU at Georgia. LSU went on the road and earned one of the best wins of any team in college basketball this season in beating Kentucky, 73-71, in Rupp Arena. The Tigers only are a game out of first place behind Tennessee in the SEC and will meet the Volunteers on Feb. 23 in Baton Rouge. Until then, LSU must defeat a struggling Georgia team on the road in Athens. Prediction: LSU 78, Georgia 74.
Mississippi State at Arkansas. The Bulldogs got back on track after breezing past Alabama, 81-62. Ben Howland’s team is not yet a lock for the NCAA Tournament but is getting closer towards earning a bid. MSU has a challenging pair of road games at Arkansas and Georgia next week, and losing both of those games would undo the win over Alabama. Arkansas desperately needs a win to play itself onto the tournament bubble, and the Hogs have been very solid at home this year. Prediction: Arkansas 76, Mississippi State 75.
Tuesday, Feb. 19
Tennessee 85, Vanderbilt 66
South Carolina 76, Ole Miss 71
Alabama 73, Texas A&M 70
Kentucky 83, Missouri 74
Wednesday, Feb. 20
Mississippi State 77, Georgia 75
LSU 80, Florida 74
Auburn 88, Arkansas 81