In & around SEC basketball – Week 5 previews


By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent

Alabama Week 4 Review
Alabama earned yet an-other impressive home win in knocking off Mississippi State, 83-79, at Coleman Coliseum. Donta Hall scored 19 points for the Crimson Tide, while John Petty and Riley Norris chipped in 13 and 11 points, respectively. UA improved to 13-7 overall and 4-3 in league play with the win, which came three days after a narrow defeat at Baylor in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Alabama travels to Auburn on Saturday (Feb. 2) before returning home to take on Georgia.
Auburn Week 4 Review
The Tigers snapped a three-game losing skid with a 92-58 blowout win over Missouri, and it was a much-needed victory for Bruce Pearl’s team. Auburn had struggled shooting for over a week but was lights out in the dominating performance against Missouri. Jared Harper led the way with 18 points, and the Tigers hit 16 three-point baskets on the night. Auburn improved to 14-6 overall and 3-4 in co-nference play. The Tigers return home for two more games next week as they host Alabama and Florida.
SEC basketball rankings
1. Tennessee (19-1, 7-0)
2. Kentucky (17-3, 6-1)
3. LSU (17-3, 7-0)
4. Auburn (14-6, 3-4)
5. Florida (12-8, 4-3)
6. Alabama (13-7, 4-3)
7. Ole Miss (14-6, 4-3)
8. Mississippi State (15-5, 3-4)
9. South Carolina (10-10, 5-2)
10. Arkansas (12-8, 3-4)
11. Missouri (10-9, 1-6)
12. Georgia (10-10, 1-6)
13. Texas A&M (8-11, 1-6)
14. Vanderbilt (9-11, 0-7)
Week 5 Previews and Predictions
Season record: 24-6
Saturday, Feb. 2
Game of the Week: Alabama at Auburn. At this point, both Auburn and Alabama look like NCAA Tournament teams. There’s a long way to go in the season, but as of now, the in-state rivals have solid postseason resumes. Alabama could go a long way in securing a bid with a win at Auburn. The Crimson Tide’s resume does lack quality road wins, though for the most part they’ve taken care of business at home. Auburn has been dy-namic at home, especially from behind the three-point line. Prediction: Auburn 84, Alabama 76.
South Carolina at Georgia. Neither the Gamecocks nor the Bulldogs appear to be postseason teams, though both squads are capable of playing with anyone in the league, especially at home. South Carolina is off to a great start in the SEC but the Gamecocks have a long way to go before they can be considered a postseason contender. Prediction: Geo-rgia 67, South Carolina 65.
Mississippi State at Ole Miss. The Rebels upset the Bulldogs in their meeting earlier this season but have struggled in recent weeks. Ole Miss and Mississippi State have been inconsistent lately, and both need a win on Saturday. Prediction: Ole Miss 85, Mississippi State 81.
Kentucky at Florida. Mike White’s Gators have won three of their last four games, including three straight SEC contests. Flo-rida has a long way to go before it is in contention for an NCAA Tournament bid, but those wins were a step in the right direction. Ken-tucky is playing as well as anyone in the country right now, and this is a major opportunity for the Gators. Prediction: Florida 77, Kenucky 75.
Arkansas at LSU. Will Wade has turned the Tigers into one of the best teams in the SEC. LSU and Tennessee are the only two teams in conference play without a loss, and Wade has the Ti-gers playing exceptionally well. Mike Anderson is in a rebuilding year with the Razorbacks, though they could earn a major win on the road in Baton Rouge this weekend. Prediction: LSU 83, Arkansas 75.
Tennessee at Texas A&M. The Volunteers ar-guably are the best team in college basketball right now, and forward Grant Williams is playing as well as anyone in the country. The Volunteers has had a few close calls so far in con-ference play, but they’ve managed to find ways to win down the stretch behind Williams’ leadership. Prediction: Tennessee 76, Texas A&M 61.
Vanderbilt at Missouri. This season has been a dis-appointment for both the Commodores and Tigers, but both head coaches have plenty of job security. It’s a rebuilding year for both teams, so the challenge for Bryce Drew and Cuonzo Martin is simply keeping morale high and trying to steal a win here and there throughout the season. Prediction: Missouri 75, Vanderbilt 70.

Tuesday, Feb. 5
Kentucky 84, South Ca-rolina 68
Arkansas 78, Vanderbilt 70
Tennessee 87, Missouri 65
Auburn 85, Florida 78
Wednesday, Feb. 6
Ole Miss 75, Texas A&M 67
Alabama 72, Georgia 63
Mississippi State 86, LSU 83

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