In & around SEC basketball - Week 8 previews

February 21, 2020 chris
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By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent

Auburn Week 7 Review
As it turns out, Auburn is not as good without its best player on the floor. Isaac Okoro’s injury has led to two straight Auburn losses at Missouri and at Georgia, and while those losses do not necessarily hurt the Tigers, they don’t need those two defeats to turn into a long losing streak. The sche-dule gets tougher down the stretch, though three of the next four games are winnable home games. Auburn dropped to 22-4 overall and 9-4 in the SEC. The Tigers host Tennessee and Ole Miss in the next week.
Alabama Week 7 Review
Alabama earned a marquee victory over LSU last Saturday but followed it up with a disappointing home loss to Texas A&M. At 14-12 overall and 6-7 in the SEC, Alabama currently is on the outside looking in for the NCAA Tournament. The season is not a lost cause just yet, however, and the Tide can make up for the Texas A&M loss with road wins against Mississippi State and Ole Miss. But time is running out, and Alabama needs wins in a hurry.
SEC basketball rankings
1. Kentucky (21-5, 11-2)
2. Auburn (22-4, 9-4)
3. LSU (18-8, 9-4)
4. Mississippi State (17-9, 8-5)
5. Florida (17-9, 9-4)
6. South Carolina (16-10, 8-5)
7. Tennessee (15-11, 7-6)
8. Texas A&M (13-12, 7-6)
9. Arkansas (16-10, 4-9)
10. Alabama (14-12, 6-7)
11. Ole Miss (13-13, 4-9)
12. Georgia (13-13, 3-10)
13. Missouri (13-13, 5-8)
14. Vanderbilt (9-17, 1-12)
Week 8 Previews and Predictions
Saturday, Feb. 22
Game of the Week: Florida at Kentucky. Kentucky has a two-game lead over three other teams in the conference and is close to locking up the SEC’s regular season title. Florida is playing as well as it has all season and is starting to look like an NCAA Tournament team. The Gators still lack a marquee victory in conference play, but a win at Rupp Arena would all but clinch a postseason bid. Prediction: Kentucky 79, Florida 72.
Tennessee at Auburn. Auburn is 0-2 without Isaac Okoro, and while both of those losses came on the road, they also came against two of the worst teams in the SEC. Okoro, a projected lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, is out with a hamstring injury, and it’s unclear when he will return. The Tigers are undefeated at home this season, but that streak might be in jeopardy if Okoro is out against the Vols on Saturday. Prediction: Auburn 80, Tennessee 78.
Missouri at Arkansas. The injury to Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe might have ended Arkansas’ NCAA Tournament chances. Eric Musselman’s team was near the top of the SEC before Joe’s injury, but the Razorbacks’ have struggled in his absence. A strong finish to the regular season might give them a chance entering the SEC Tournament, but it will be an uphill battle for the Hogs entering March. Prediction: Arkansas 88, Missouri 85.
Mississippi State at Texas A&M. Buzz Williams has Texas A&M above .500 in the SEC, a feat not many believed to be possible in the preseason. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year, and while the Aggies are going to the NCAA Tournament, they are still in the top half of the SEC. Texas A&M is not a contender this year, but it will not take long for the Aggies to be a factor at the top of the SEC. Prediction: Texas A&M 74, Mississippi State 70.
Georgia at Vanderbilt. Jerry Stackhouse has only won one SEC game thus far, but his team is competing at a higher level than they were a season ago. Both of these teams are rebuilding, though they have each shown improvement this year. Prediction: Vanderbilt 75, Georgia 74.
LSU at South Carolina. South Carolina had an opportunity to add a big win on the road at Mississippi State but fell just short. Opportunities exist down the stretch for the Gamecocks, including Saturday’s home game against LSU. It might take a 5-0 or 4-1 finish to the regular season for South Carolina to earn a postseason berth, so this Saturday’s game is a must-win. Prediction: South Carolina 73, LSU 68.
Alabama at Ole Miss. Alabama’s tournament cha-nces took a hit in the home loss to Texas A&M, and now the Tide must make up for that defeat on the road against the Mississippi schools. A win on the road against either Mississippi team would make amends for the home loss to the Aggies, and UA needs to do damage control immediately to keep their postseason hopes alive. Prediction: Alabama 85, Ole Miss 80.
Tuesday, Feb. 25
Auburn 83, Ole Miss 79; Kentucky 77, Texas A&M 70; Mississippi State 82, Alabama 80
Wednesday, Feb. 26
South Carolina 66, Georgia 60; Arkansas 84, Tennessee 81; Vanderbilt 75, Missouri 73; Florida 76, LSU 72