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SEC Basketball Recap of Saturday

The upper crust of the conference is coming into focus. Parsing out the top five is more difficult.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday's outcomes helped to bring into focus the best teams in an otherwise average-at-best conference. There are currently two teams tied for second, while another three teams are tied for third place. The SEC conference allows co-champions, and it looks like that will happen this season with three regular season games remaining.

The No. 21 Aggies are currently 11-5 in the conference, but would currently hold the highest seed in the SEC Tournament given their regular season win over fellow co-leader, the Kentucky Wildcats. A&M dispatched last place Missouri Tigers 84-69 in game that actually wasn't even as close as the final score indicates. A&M got a big contribution from Jalen Jones' 20 points, while Ryan Rosburg led Mizzou scorers with 15 points. The Aggies have now won four straight games, and are playing good basketball at a critical juncture of the season.

The 16th ranked Kentucky Wildcats went on the road to Vanderbilt, and were handily defeated 74-62. The 'Cats got 33 points from future lottery pick Jamal Murray, but no other player contributed. That's pretty consistent for UK's front court this season, but very uncharacteristic play from point guard Tyler Ulis who shot 5-for-20 in his first stinker of the season. Vanderbilt's Matthew Fisher-Davis ted his career high with 20 points, and the Commodores also got big contributions from Jeff Roberson, Damian Jones, and Wade Baldin IV. Vandy prevented UK from scoring after the 4:00 mark in the second half, and won a game they seemed to be in control of from beginning to end. At 10-6 in the conference, Vandy still has a chance of being a co-champion of the conference in theory.

Another team that has been in the upper tier of league all season are the South Carolina Gamecocks, but they had a big setback on Saturday when the Mississippi State Bulldogs defeated them 68-58. Gavin Ware led the Bulldogs with 16 points and 12 rebounds, and the Bulldogs have won four of their last six games. South Carolina was led in scoring by Sindarius Thornwell who pitched in 12 points, but overall, the Gamecocks only shot 30 percent from the field in the first half, and quickly fell behind despite out-rebounding MSU 39-34 including 16 offensive rebounds. South Carolina appears limited without multiple viable scoring threats.

The fifth team to pay some attention to are the LSU Tigers who defeated the Florida Gators 96-91 bringing their conference record to 10-6 which places them in a three-way tie with Vanderbilt and South Carolina for third place. LSU was led in scoring by point guard Antonio Blakeney career-high 32 points, while all-world Ben Simmons pitched in 22 points and 11 rebounds. LSU snapped a three game losing streak. John Egbunu scored a career-high 22 points for Florida which has now lost three straight games falling to 8-8 in conference play.

Other games of note: the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated their rival the Auburn Tigers 65-57 after rallying from being down 10 points in the second half. Auburn is now 11-17 in a disappointing second season under Bruce Pearl. The Arkansas Razorbacks hit nine three-pointers in Knoxville Saturday, and defeated the Tennessee Volunteers 75-65. The Razorbacks currently have a record of 15-14 and will need to finish the season strongly to sneak into any type of postseason tournament. Finally, the Ole Miss Rebels suffered a setback Saturday on the road in Athens losing to the Georgia Bulldogs 80-66. J.J. Frazier and Kenny Gaines scored 26 and 23 points respectively , while the 'Dawgs defense held Stefan Moody to 15 points. The Rebels are another team that needs to finish the season strong, and Saturday's loss could prove very disruptive to their post-season aspirations.