By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Auburn Week 4 Review
After back-to-back losses, Bruce Pearl’s team responded with three straight victories to get back on track. The Tigers knocked off Iowa State, 80-76, in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, and followed that win up with an 83-82 win in double overtime at Ole Miss. Led by senior Anfernee McLemore’s 19 points off the bench, Auburn overcame a 19-point deficit to force overtime before finally knocking off the Rebels. The Tigers improved to 18-2 overall and 5-2 in the SEC. They host Kentucky this Saturday (Feb. 1) in a top-25 showdown before traveling to Arkansas.
Alabama Week 4 Review
Alabama’s four-game wi-nning streak came to an end with a 90-76 loss at LSU on Wednesday, Jan. 29. Former Mountain Brook star Trendon Watford scored 17 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Tigers, and the Crimson Tide did not shoot the ball well from the perimeter. Alabama defeated Kansas State, 77-74, in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. UA is 12-8 overall and 4-3 in conference play. The Tide hosts Arkansas on Saturday and Tennessee on Tuesday.
SEC basketball rankings
1. Kentucky (16-4, 6-1)
2. LSU (16-4, 7-0)
3. Auburn (18-2, 5-2)
4. Mississippi State (13-7, 4-3)
5. Florida (12-8, 4-3)
6. Alabama (12-8, 4-3)
7. South Carolina (12-8, 4-3)
8. Arkansas (15-5, 3-4)
9. Tennessee (12-8, 4-3)
10. Texas A&M (10-9, 4-3)
11. Missouri (10-10, 2-5)
12. Ole Miss (10-10, 1-6)
13. Georgia (11-9, 1-6)
14. Vanderbilt (8-12, 0-7)
Week 5 Previews and Predictions
Saturday, Feb. 1
Game of the Week: Auburn at Kentucky. The last time these teams met, Auburn outlasted Kentucky, 77-71, in overtime to advance to the Final Four for the first time in school history. Bruce Pearl has had success against John Calipari in the last few seasons, and now the Tigers are consistently battling with the Wildcats atop the SEC standings. The basketball version of College GameDay is visiting Auburn for the first time in the show’s history, and the show’s presence further proves the strides the AU program has made under Pearl. Last year was the best season in school history, and now Auburn is looking to prove last season was not a fluke. Prediction: Auburn 84, Kentucky 80.
Ole Miss at LSU. LSU won a share of the SEC a year ago, but the only thing most fans remember from last season was Will Wade’s trouble with the FBI and NCAA. Despite those off-the-court issues, Wade is still on the sidelines and the Tigers are first in the SEC. The schedule becomes incredibly difficult down the stretch, but LSU should be 9-0 in the conference when it visits Auburn next Saturday. Prediction: LSU 85, Ole Miss 75.
Texas A&M at Georgia. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the SEC thus far is Texas A&M. Buzz Williams’ team had very low expectations entering his first season in College Station, but the Aggies currently have a winning record in conference play nearly halfway through the season. The Aggies are probably not playing in the postseason this year, but it’s clear that Williams has the program heading in the right direction. Prediction: Georgia 68, Texas A&M 66.
Tennessee at Mississippi State. After a sluggish start to conference play, Mississippi State has responded with several impressive wins, including a road win at Florida. The Bulldogs look like an NCAA Tournament team but must add some wins and avoid bad losses to bolster their resume. Prediction: Mississippi State 77, Tennessee 68.
Missouri at South Carolina. There’s over a month left in the regular season, but it’s already easy to tell that the Gamecocks will be on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Frank Martin’s team has a handful of excellent wins – Kentucky, at Arkansas, at Virginia – but the Gamecocks have some really bad losses, including one to Stetson. This Missouri game is one the Gamecocks cann0t afford to drop. Prediction: South Carolina 70, Missouri 58.
Arkansas at Alabama. Other than the season-opening home loss to Penn, Alabama has been excellent at home in Nate Oats’ first season. Despite the road loss at LSU, Alabama has still helped its case for the NCAA Tournament in recent weeks and has an opportunity for a pair of home wins over quality opponents in the upcoming week. Prediction: Alabama 85, Arkansas 83.
Florida at Vanderbilt. If Texas A&M has been the most positive surprise in the SEC thus far, Florida has been the biggest disappointment. The Gators are not out of postseason contention by any means, but there’s been no consistency with this squad all year. The schedule allows for Florida to get back into the tournament picture, but the Gators have five consecutive games over non-postseason teams and need to win all five. Prediction: Florida 77, Vanderbilt 73.
Tuesday, Feb. 4
Alabama 82, Tennessee 75; Arkansas 84, Auburn 77; Kentucky 76, Mississippi State 70; Texas A&M 65, Missouri 62
Wednesday, Feb. 5
Florida 71, Georgia 64; South Carolina 62, Ole Miss 59; LSU 84, Vanderbilt 71