By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Auburn Week 5 Review
The Tigers enjoyed their best week of the season as they knocked off Kentucky at home and Arkansas on the road in overtime. Auburn pulled away from the Wildcats after being neck-and-neck for most of the game. Samir Doughty led the Tigers with 23 points and kept his team afloat in the first half. A few days later, Auburn beat Arkansas in Fayetteville for the first time since 2016, with Doughty once again leading the way with 23 points. The Tigers improved to 20-2 overall and 7-2 in conference play. AU hosts LSU this Saturday (Feb. 8) for a pivotal SEC showdown before hosting Alabama on Wednesday, Feb. 12.
Alabama Week 5 Review
Alabama made several steps in the right direction to start conference play, but the Crimson Tide took a massive step backwards last week. UA dropped two straight home games to Arkansas and Tennessee, blowing leads in both games. The Razorbacks stormed back to beat Alabama, 82-78, while the Volunteers overcame a 15-point deficit to win 69-68 at Coleman Coliseum. Guard Herb Jones is out indefinitely with an injury, and his absence certainly will affect the Tide on the defensive end of the floor. Alabama looks to get back on track on the road against Georgia on Saturday before traveling to Auburn next week.
SEC basketball rankings
1. LSU (17-5, 8-1)
2. Auburn (20-2, 7-2)
3. Kentucky (17-5, 7-2)
4. Mississippi State (14-8, 5-4)
5. Florida (14-8, 6-3)
6. South Carolina (13-9, 5-4)
7. Arkansas (16-6, 4-5)
8. Tennessee (13-9, 5-4)
9. Alabama (12-10, 4-5)
10.Texas A&M (11-10, 5-4)
11. Ole Miss (11-11, 1-7)
12. Georgia (12-10, 3-6)
13. Missouri (10-12, 2-7)
14. Vanderbilt (9-13, 1-8)
Week 6 Previews and Predictions
Saturday, Feb. 8
Game of the Week: LSU at Auburn. This game lost a little of its luster when LSU lost to Van-derbilt last Wednesday, but this matchup is still for first place in the SEC standings. Auburn is undefeated at home this year, and the Tigers playing better than they have all season. Samir Doughty has emerged as one of the top players in the conference, and he’s been a consistent scoring threat for the Tigers. Auburn already is almost a lock for the NCAA Tournament but needs to add marquee wins to help improve its seeding before March. Prediction: Auburn 84, LSU 79.
Kentucky at Tennessee. The Volunteers made their way back into the postseason conversation with a comeback win at Alabama. Rick Barnes’ team now needs to continue adding victories to its resume. A win over Kentucky would go a long way, and the Volunteers have had success against the Wildcats in Knoxville. Kentucky is young but John Calipari’s team is rapidly improving, and the ‘Cats certainly will be a threat to make a run this postseason. Prediction: Kentucky 77, Tennessee 74.
Texas A&M at South Carolina. South Carolina’s NCAA Tournament resume is hard to decipher. The loss at Ole Miss doesn’t help matters, but there are still quality wins for the Game-cocks to fall back on. They need to avoid adding more bad losses, including a home loss to Texas A&M. The Aggies have played very well during conference play and they’ve been a tough out in most games. Prediction: South Carolina 68, Texas A&M 64.
Florida at Ole Miss. The Gators overcame a 22-point deficit to storm back and beat Georgia at home. It was a much-needed victory for Mike White’s squad, which has been very inconsistent this season. Flo-rida has not lived up to preseason expectations, but there’s still time to improve and fulfill those expectations. However, the Gators cannot afford a loss at Ole Miss. Prediction: Florida 73, Ole Miss 70.
Arkansas at Missouri. The Razorbacks followed up an impressive win at Alabama with a disappointing home loss to Auburn. Despite a great record, the Razorbacks are far away from being a lock for the NCAA Tournament. They cannot afford a loss to Missouri, especially given how badly the Tigers are struggling in conference play. Prediction: Arkansas 76, Missouri 70.
Alabama at Georgia. Alabama’s three-game losing streak could not have come at a worse time in the schedule. The Crimson Tide travel to Georgia and Auburn during the next week and follow that up with a home game against LSU. Alabama could easily be under .500 after its next three games, although Saturday’s contest at Georgia is a very winnable game that Nate Oats’ team very much needs to win. Prediction: Georgia 73, Alabama 71.
Vanderbilt at Mississippi State. Vanderbilt’s win over LSU was its first conference win in over a year and the first for Jerry Stackhouse. It was a great first SEC win for Stackhouse in this rebuilding year. Mississippi State should be an NCAA Tournament team but the Bulldogs must continue adding wins and avoiding bad losses. Prediction: Mississippi State 78, Vanderbilt 65.
Tuesday, Feb. 11
Kentucky 76, Vanderbilt 68; Ole Miss 72, Mississippi State 70; Tennessee 78, Arkansas 75; LSU 88, Missouri 70
Wednesday, Feb. 12
South Carolina 65, Georgia 64; Auburn 83, Alabama 70; Florida 71, Texas A&M 65