In & around SEC basketball


Auburn Week 8 Review
The Tigers avenged their loss to Alabama from earlier this season with an impressive 90-71 win over the Crimson Tide. Auburn won without Mustapha Heron and Anfernee McLemore. Heron was out with the sto-mach flu, but McLemore is out for the season after fracturing his tibia and dislocating his ankle in Auburn’s road loss to South Carolina. McLemore led the Tigers in blocked shots this season. The Tigers improved to 24-4 overall and 12-3 in league play and are one win away from clinching the SEC regular season championship. Auburn travels to Florida on Saturday (Feb. 24) before hitting the road again the play Arkansas on Tuesday (Feb. 27).
Alabama Week 8 Review
Had Alabama beaten either Kentucky or Auburn last week, the Tide likely would have done enough to clinch a bid to the NCAA Tournament. UA is still likely to reach the tournament despite losing both games, as long as they don’t go winless over their last three league games. Plus, both losses were on the road against quality opponents. Still, Alabama’s inconsistencies are worrisome as the postseason approaches. The Tide fell to 17-11 overall and 8-7 in the SEC. They return home this week to take on Arkansas on Saturday and Florida on Tuesday.

SEC rankings
1. Auburn (24-4, 12-3)
2. Tennessee (20-7, 10-5)
3. Kentucky (19-9, 8-7)
4. Missouri (18-10, 8-7)
5. Alabama (17-11, 8-7)
6. ‘Arkansas (19-9, 8-7)
7. Florida (17-11, 8-7)
8. Miss. State (20-8, 8-7)
9. Tex. A&M (17-11, 6-9)
10. LSU (16-11, 7-8)
11.South Car (15-13, 6-9)
12. Georgia (15-12, 6-9)
13. Vand. (11-17, 5-10)
14. Ole Miss(12-16, 5-10)

Week 9 Preview and Predictions
Week 8: 6-8
Season: 42-31
Saturday, Feb. 24
Game of the Week: Auburn at Florida. The Tigers are close to clinching the regular season SEC championship, but a difficult challenge awaits as they take on the Gators. Auburn has struggled historically in Gainesville, but this is one of the best teams in program history. Florida has struggled in recent weeks and might be in jeopardy of missing the tournament if the Gators continue losing. This is an important game for the Gators, and they’ll need at least one win over their last three regular season games. Prediction: Florida 88, Auburn 83.
Missouri at Kentucky. The young Wildcats look like they’re finally starting to turn the corner. This is the youngest team John Calipari has ever coached, and they’ve played like it for most of the season. But the ‘Cats followed up a home win over Alabama with an impressive 87-72 win at Arkansas. The talent is certainly there for Kentucky, but the Wildcats struggled on the offensive end for most of the season until recently. Missouri had been playing good basketball, but the Tigers suffered a bad home loss to Ole Miss in overtime. They’re still in the tournament field as of now but need to finish at .500 in league play to feel comfortable heading into Selection Sunday. Prediction: Kentucky 73, Missouri 68.
Tennessee at Ole Miss. In the Rebels’ first game after Andy Kennedy resigned, they went on the road and won for the first time this season at Missouri. It took overtime, but Ole Miss was able to pull off the upset. It’s a lost season for the Re-bels, but they are still capable of pulling off upsets in the SEC. Tennessee has been one of the best stories in the conference this season, as the Volunteers were predicted to finish at the bottom of the league. Rick Barnes has done a tremendous job turning this team around. Prediction: Tennessee 73, Ole Miss 66.
Texas A&M at Vanderbilt. Texas A&M is as talented as any team in the league but very inconsistent. The home loss to Mississippi State wasn’t necessarily a bad one, but the Aggies probably need to avoid losing to Vanderbilt and falling to 6-10 in the SEC. The Commodores have been tough at home this season, so this won’t be a cakewalk for A&M. Prediction: Texas A&M 81, Vanderbilt 77.
LSU at Georgia. Georgia’s NCAA Tournament hopes suffered a huge blow after a road loss at South Carolina. At this point, the Bulldogs probably need to win out and at least make the SEC championship game to have a chance at an at-large bid, and even that might not be enough. LSU has worked its way onto the bubble but the Tigers still have plenty of work to do. If LSU can win its remaining regular season games, the Tigers could have a shot at an at-large bid. Every game is must-win for both teams moving forward. Prediction: Georgia 74, LSU 68.
Arkansas at Alabama. Both the Tide and Razorbacks are in need of a win. Both teams would make the NCAA Tournament if it started today, but neither squad can afford a losing streak down the stretch. A win here for either team would go a long way towards clinching a bid. Arkansas has struggled on the road all season, and Alabama might need this win more than the Razorbacks. Prediction: Alabama 73, Arkansas 64.
Tuesday, Feb. 27
Mississippi State 72, Te-nnessee 68
Alabama 77, Florida 70
Arkansas 87, Auburn 81
Wednesday, Feb. 28
South Carolina 73, LSU 65
Kentucky 81, Ole Miss 68
Georgia 74, Texas A&M 70

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