By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Auburn Week 5 Review
After a poor start to the conference season, the Tigers took advantage of a three-game home stretch to get back above .500. Auburn defeated Missouri, Ala-bama and Florida – all by double digits – and looked closer to last year’s team that won the SEC championship. The Tigers are now 5-4 in SEC play and 16-6 on the year and improved defensively over the last two weeks. Bryce Brown has been shooting as well as any player in the country, while Chuma Okeke has emerged as another scoring threat for the offense. Center Austin Wiley is back in the rotation and will provide a much-needed inside presence. Auburn travels to Baton Rouge this Saturday (Feb. 9) to take on LSU in a matchup of two of the top teams in the league.
Alabama Week 5 Review
A scoring barrage from Tevin Mack and Kira Lewis led Alabama to an 89-74 rout over Georgia, moving the Crimson Tide back over .500 in the SEC. Mack led the way with 25 points, while Lewis scored 24 in the win. Alabama moved to 14-8 overall and 5-4 in league play. UA travels to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt, a game the Tide can’t afford to lose for their NCAA Tournament resume.
SEC basketball rankings
1. Tennessee (21-1, 9-0)
2. Kentucky (19-3, 8-1)
3. LSU (18-4, 8-1)
4. Auburn (16-6, 5-4)
5. Mississippi State (16-6, 4-5)
6. Alabama (14-8, 5-4)
7. Arkansas (14-8, 5-4)
8. Ole Miss (15-7, 5-4)
9. South Carolina (11-11, 6-3)
10. Florida (12-10, 4-5)
11. Missouri (11-10, 2-7)
12. Georgia (10-12, 1-8)
13. Texas A&M (8-13, 1-8)
14. Vanderbilt (9-13, 0-9)
Week 6 Previews and Predictions
Season record: 33-11
Saturday, Feb. 9
Game of the Week: Auburn at LSU. Will Wade has quickly turned LSU into one of the best teams in the SEC, and now the Tigers have a major test entering Baton Rouge this weekend. Auburn is playing very good basketball but has not played well away from home all season. The visiting Tigers have an opportunity to prove they are a contender on Saturday afternoon, as they face a very solid LSU team. Prediction: LSU 85, Auburn 83.
Kentucky at Mississippi State. Kentucky is playing as well as any team in the country and has been dominant since a loss to Alabama to start the SEC schedule. When these two teams met last weekend, the Wildcats blitzed past the Bulldogs, 77-56. Mississippi State has since turned things around, and this will be an intriguing challenge for both squads. Prediction: Kentucky 84, Mississippi State 80.
Ole Miss at Georgia. After an impressive start to conference play, Ole Miss has struggled in recent weeks. The Rebels started 4-0 in the SEC but have dropped five straight overall and four in the league to move back onto the bubble. Kermit Davis still has a team capable of making the NCAA Tournament, but the Rebels cannot afford to lose winnable games like Saturday’s contest against Georgia. Prediction: Ole Miss 75, Georgia 72.
Arkansas at South Carolina. Both the Razorbacks and Gamecocks are near the top of the SEC, and both teams have a chance to earn a coveted double bye in the SEC Tournament. Arkansas’ chances of reaching the NCAA Tournament are better than the Gamecocks, especially after last Saturday’s upset win at LSU. A road win at South Carolina would likely end up as a Quadrant 1 victory for the Razorbacks. Prediction: South Carolina 72, Arkansas 68.
Florida at Tennessee. Florida needs wins and needs them quickly if the Gators wish to return to the NCAA Tournament. Florida has been close to pulling off major upsets, including last week’s narrow home loss to Kentucky. The Gators 12-10 on the year but still have an opportunity to make a tournament push, especially if they can upset No. 1 Tennessee on the road. Prediction: Tennessee 73, Florida 65.
Texas A&M at Missouri. When these two teams met three weeks ago in College Station, the Tigers routed the Aggies, 66-43. Both teams have struggled this season, combining for three conference wins in 17 games. The two former Big 12 teams are building for next season. Prediction: Missouri 76, Texas A&M 71.
Alabama at Vanderbilt. The Commodores have lost 10 straight games, including six losses by double digits. Nevertheless, Alabama won’t be overlooking Bryce Drew’s team. The Tide has not won in Memorial Gymnasium since 1990, and it’s been a struggled for Alabama basketball every trip up to Nashville. Alabama is once more on the bubble and cannot afford a loss to the struggling Commodores. Prediction: Alabama 70, Vanderbilt 68.
Tuesday, Feb. 12
Kentucky 83, LSU 79
Texas A&M 73, Georgia 70
Mississippi State 78, Alabama 74
Arkansas 76, Missouri 75
Wednesday, Feb. 13
Tennessee 77, South Carolina 65
Auburn 88, Ole Miss 80
Florida 68, Vanderbilt 57