By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Alabama Week 2 Review
Nate Oats earned the first marquee win during his tenure at Alabama as his team handed Auburn its first loss of the season on Jan. 15. The Crimson Tide pulled away for an 83-64 victory over the Tigers, who were 15-0 entering the matchup. Kira Lewis scored 25 points to lead the Tide, while Herb Jones and Alex Reese added 14 and 13 points, respectively. The win came after Alabama lost to Kentucky, 76-67, at Rupp Arena on Jan. 11. Alabama is 9-7 overall and 2-2 in the SEC. UA hosts Missouri at Coleman Coliseum this Saturday (Jan. 18).
Auburn Week 2 Review
Prior to its loss to Alabama, Auburn cruised past Georgia, 82-60, but it’s the loss to the Tide that will linger from the week. The Tigers struggled offensively, hitting only 25 percent of their 3-point attempts and 57 percent of free throws. Auburn dropped to 15-1 on the year and is 3-1 in conference play as a road trip to Gainesville to take on Florida approaches this weekend.
Week 3 Previews and Predictions
Saturday, Jan. 18
Game of the Week: Kentucky at Arkansas. The Razorbacks have emerged as one of the top teams in the SEC in Eric Musselman’s first season in Fayetteville, and the Hogs will have their first major test at home as the Wildcats come to town. Kentucky is young but very talented but the ‘Cats struggle at times on the road. John Calipari’s team has the highest ceiling of any SEC team, but UK experiences plenty of typical youthful moments. Prediction: Arkansas 86, Kentucky 81.
South Carolina at Texas A&M. This is a rebuilding year for Buzz Williams in his first season at Texas A&M, but the Aggies still managed to start 2-2 in conference play. A&M nearly knocked off LSU, and the Aggies playing hard night in and night out. South Carolina has some very good wins this year (at Virginia, vs. Kentucky), but this is a game the Gamecocks need to win if they want a chance to make the NCAA Tournament. Prediction: South Carolina 65, Texas A&M 63.
Auburn at Florida. Back-to-back road game at Alabama and Florida is easily the toughest stretch Auburn has faced so far this season, and the Tigers need a much better performance in Gainesville than what they displayed in Tuscaloosa. Florida has been inconsistent this season, but the Gators have a very talented roster that is capable of beating anyone in the SEC. Prediction: Florida 78, Auburn 71.
Missouri at Alabama. The best sign during Alabama’s win over Auburn was that the Crimson Tide did not shoot the ball well but still managed to win convincingly. This team heavily relies on 3-pointers but is also improved at attacking the rim. If Alabama loses at home to Missouri, it would undo a good bit of the progress the program has made to this point, but the Tide should take care of business at home. Prediction: Alabama 81, Missouri 72.
Tennessee at Vanderbilt. It’s been a while since Vanderbilt has won a conference game, and the Commodores struggled out of the gate in Jerry Stackhouse’s first season. It’s a major rebuilding job, so it likely will be another long season in Nashville. Rick Barnes has another potential tournament team at Tennessee, and this is a very winnable road game. Prediction: Tennessee 76, Vanderbilt 73.
LSU at Ole Miss. The Rebels made the NCAA Tournament in Kermit Davis’ first season, but the Rebels’ current trajectory suggests they will miss the postseason this year. Ole Miss has taken a step back, though the program remains competitive in the SEC. LSU is strong once again under Will Wade and likely will be at the top of the conference all season. Prediction: LSU 78, Ole Miss 74.
Georgia at Mississippi State. Ben Howland’s team finally put together a great performance as the Bulldogs dominated Missouri. Now, MSU must figure out how to play that well consistently. There is enough talent on the Bulldog roster to make another NCAA Tournament, but they need to improve and earn conference wins quickly. Georgia has a chance to be competitive in the SEC but has a lot of work to do to compete for a postseason bid. Prediction: Mississippi State 77, Georgia 75.
Tuesday, Jan. 21
LSU 73, Florida 68; Kentucky 83, Georgia 70; Missouri 68, Texas A&M 65; Tennessee 75, Ole Miss 70
Wednesday, Jan. 22
Auburn 85, South Carolina 67; Mississippi State 78, Arkansas 74; Alabama 83, Vanderbilt 77
In & around SEC basketball – Week 2 review
By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent