In & around SEC basketball – Week 4 predictions


Auburn Week 3 Review
Auburn dropped under .500 in conference play after back-to-back narrow losses to Kentucky and South Ca-rolina. The Wildcats handed Auburn its first loss at home this season as they knocked off the Tigers, 82-80. Guards Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro each scored 20 points for Kentucky and were able to sustain a late AU push to hold on for the win. Bryce Brown scored 28 points for Auburn, including 25 in the second half.
Three days later, Auburn traveled to Columbia, South Carolina, where they fell 80-77 to the Gamecocks. Brown and Jared Harper scored 17 points apiece but South Carolina’s Chris Silva dominated the game with 32 points and 14 rebounds. Auburn has been without center Austin Wiley the past two games, and he is expected to miss a couple of weeks with a foot injury. The Tigers dropped to 13-5 overall and 2-3 in league play. They travel to Starkville to take on Mississippi State on Saturday (Jan. 26).
Alabama Week 3 Review
Avery Johnson’s team has turned the corner in its last three games following an 81-80 home loss to Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide have won two of their last three games, including victories over Missouri and Ole Miss. Alabama dominated the Rebels, 74-53, behind 15 points from John Petty. The lone loss in that stretch was a 71-68 defeat at the hands of No. 1 Tennessee in Knoxville. The Tide trailed by 12 at halftime but rallied and maintained the lead for most of the second half before falling just short. Alabama improved to 12-6 overall and 3-3 in conference play. UA travels to Waco, Texas, to face Baylor on Saturday for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
SEC basketball rankings
1. Tennessee (16-1, 5-0)
2. Kentucky (15-3, 5-1)
3. LSU (14-3, 4-0)
4. Auburn (13-5, 2-3)
5. Ole Miss (14-4, 4-2)
6. Mississippi State (14-4, 2-3)
7. Alabama (12-6, 3-3)
8.South Carolina (10-8, 5-1)
9. Florida (11-7, 3-3)
10. Arkansas (10-7, 1-4)
11. Missouri (10-6, 1-3)
12. Vanderbilt (9-8, 0-5)
13. Georgia (9-8, 1-4)
14. Texas A&M (7-10, 1-5)

Week 4 Previews and Predictions
Season record: 8-3
Saturday, Jan. 26
Game of the Week: Kansas at Kentucky. Two of the greatest programs in college basketball history headline the SEC/Big 12 Challenge as the Jayhawks visit Rupp Arena on Saturday night. John Calipari and Bill Self have squared off numerous times in the past, including twice in the national title game. The two Hall of Fame coaches have each won a national title and came against the other coach. Kentucky leads the all-time series at 22-9 but the Jayhawks have won the last three meetings. Prediction: Kentucky 76, Kansas 73.
Alabama at Baylor. Alabama has a solid resume at this point, but they’re in need of quality wins away from home. Baylor will be a bubble team in March, and it’s likely that Alabama will be as well. If the Tide can go into Waco and pull off a win, it would drastically help their NCAA Tournament chances. Prediction: Baylor 68, Alabama 65.
Iowa State at Ole Miss. Ole Miss has been the biggest surprise in the SEC so far this season as Kermit Davis has the Rebels in position to make the NCAA Tournament. Steve Prohm has Iowa State near the top of the Big 12, and this is one of the few matchups in the challenge that likely features two tournament teams. Prediction: Ole Miss 84, Iowa State 79.
Florida at TCU. It’s been a disappointing start to the season for Florida. If Mike White wants to get the Gators back into the tournament, they could really use a road win at TCU. Barring a late season collapse, the Horned Frogs almost certainly will be dancing, so this is an excellent opportunity for the Gators. Prediction: TCU 74, Florida 68.
South Carolina at Oklahoma State. After struggling in the non-conference portion of the season, South Carolina is off to a blistering 5-1 start in the SEC. It will take several more wins for the Gamecocks to make the tournament, however, and they can’t afford to lose to the Cowboys on the road. Prediction: South Carolina 64, Oklahoma State 63.
Texas at Georgia. Tom Crean’s Bulldogs have struggled in his debut season but that was to be expected. Georgia lost plenty of talent, and Crean knew it would be a difficult job at the beginning. However, Georgia can still be competitive – particularly at home – and is more than capable of knocking off an inconsistent Texas team. Prediction: Georgia 67, Texas 65
Kansas State at Texas A&M. Billy Kennedy is in a rebuilding year with the Aggies, who are taking their lumps after last year’s Sweet 16 appearance. They’re still capable of playing with most teams, however, including a very solid Kansas State team on Saturday. Prediction: Kansas State 72, Texas A&M 69.
Vanderbilt at Oklahoma. The loss of Darius Garland to injury essentially ended Vanderbilt’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament. Bryce Drew is now trying to build for the future in Nashville, and it will likely be a challenging season for the Commodores. Prediction: Oklahoma 83, Vanderbilt 69.
West Virginia at Tennessee. Since 2007, Bob Huggins has only missed the NCAA Tournament twice at West Virginia. The Mountaineers have been to the Sweet 16 in three of the past four seasons, but this is one of the worst teams that Huggins has had in Morgantown. If UWV can upset Tennessee in Knoxville and turn things around, Huggins might have a chance to sneak into the Big Dance. The Volunteers are the best team in the country right now, so that is a tall order for West Virginia. Prediction: Tennessee 79, West Virginia 67.
Arkansas at Texas Tech. Arkansas has a lot of work to do to push for an NCAA Tournament bid, and a road win at Texas Tech would be a great start. Chris Beard has done a remarkable job at Texas Tech, and the Red Raiders are tough to beat in Lubbock. Prediction: Texas Tech 77, Arkansas 68.
LSU at Missouri. LSU and Tennessee are the only two unbeaten teams remai-ning in conference play, which speaks volumes about the job Will Wade has done through two seasons in Baton Rouge. The Tigers are poised to reach the NCAA Tournament but can’t afford to slip up and lose to average teams. Prediction: LSU 76, Missouri 74.
Auburn at Mississippi State. Two of the best teams in the SEC aren’t even participating in this year’s challenge. Instead, they are meeting in pivotal SEC showdown on Saturday night in Starkville. Despite lofty preseason expectations, neither the Tigers nor the Bulldogs are above .500 through five games in conference play. Auburn won last year’s meeting in Starkville but Mississippi State is much better this season. Prediction: Mississippi State 83, Auburn 78.
Tuesday, Jan. 29
Tennessee 74, South Carolina 68
Arkansas 71, Georgia 65
Alabama 70, Mississippi State 67
Kentucky 77, Vanderbilt 72
Wednesday, Jan. 30
Florida 78, Ole Miss 75
Auburn 88, Missouri 76
LSU 81, Texas A&M 74

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