Let’s take a quick glance at what happened on Tuesday first:
- Tennessee Volunteers 56, Mississippi State Bulldogs 53: Tennessee was able to fend off Mississippi State and score a much-needed win. The Vols were heavily pushed and trailed 44-40 with 7:57 to go in the second half. They were able to go on a 16-9 run to end the game and keep State from hitting them with what would’ve been their third straight loss. Yves Pons led with 13 points, as the Vols struggled to get on the board oftentimes. They shot just 48.6 percent on 2-point tries and a dismal 15.8 percent on 19 3-point attempts. State didn’t fare much better, shooting 35.9 percent on 2’s and 23.1 percent on 13 3-point attempts.
- Alabama Crimson Tide 70, Kentucky Wildcats 59: Although they had a poor shooting night, Alabama was able to dish out yet another loss to Kentucky. The Tide are now 9-0 in conference play and don’t seem to be settling down anytime soon. They picked up four double-figure scorers in the win, led by the efforts of Jaden Shackelford, who scored 21. Herbert Jones, John Petty and Joshua Primo added 13, 10 and 10 points respectively. The Tide are just rolling right now, playing sort of like how their adversary has played for well over a decade now. UK seems destined for one of their worst seasons in recent memory, and this loss was yet another indication of that.
- LSU Tigers 78, Texas A&M Aggies 66: LSU had a dominant game on the interior en route to a 78-66 win. The Tigers shot 62.5 percent on their 2-point attempts, collecting 15 makes from inside against a porous Aggie defense. Cameron Thomas shined yet again, scoring 28 points and going 5-for-8 on 2s and 9-for-9 from the FT line. Javonte Smart had 19 points in the win with nine assists, while Trendon Watford and Darius Days scored 13 and 11 respectively. Jay ay Chandler and Savion Flagg’s 38 combined points off the bench were not nearly enough, as A&M’s starters combined for just 15 points.
- Auburn Tigers 88, Missouri Tigers 82: Auburn secured their fourth win in their last five games with a win over Mizzou. The Tigers won 88-82 over the other Tigers, managing to stifle them from inside. They shot an even 50 percent on 34 2-point attempts, besting Mizzou’s 45.1 percent mark. Mizzou had 51 2-point attempts on the night and 76 shots in general, which was well ahead of Auburn’s mere 55. Alas, Mizzou clanked on a decent amount of them, knocking down only 29 attempts from the floor.
(All times Eastern)
In terms of jostling for position, there isn’t much movement possible in these games. But with that being said, there could be some intrigue in the middle of the pack.
Florida will take on last place Vanderbilt first. The Gators have won three of their last four, including a big win over Tennessee last Tuesday. They have gotten it together after eating defeat to both Alabama and Kentucky earlier in the month. Whether that continues is yet to be seen, but before their big matchup with West Virginia on Saturday, they’ll take on the lowly Commodores. Despite their porous results though, I will be intrigued to see how this game plays out. Vandy’s average 3-point offense could have a matchup advantage against Florida’s shaky perimeter defense. That will have to be the area that the Commodores exploit, as UF has one of the better interior defenses in the conference. But they’ll have to keep up somehow, as UF has plusses in both 2-point and 3-point offense this season.
Next, Georgia and South Carolina do battle. UGA got off to a very hot start, but have since gone 2-5 in SEC play. Their only wins are against Kentucky and Ole Miss, two of the worser teams in the conference this season. South Carolina isn’t much better. They’ve played just eight games in this “season,” and have lost three in a row entering play to LSU, Mizzou and Auburn. Neither team’s offense has been particularly great, but I will lean UGA because they’ve been able to shoot the ball well from inside. South Carolina, meanwhile, hasn’t really shown any sign of shooting well. But with that said, the Dawgs’ interior defense has been suspect all year, so it could play into SC’s hand if they shape up.
Finally, Ole Miss and Arkansas will square off. The Hogs are slight favorites in this game and that shouldn’t come as much a surprise. While they have an edge on the Rebels in terms of record, the Hogs will be facing one of the better defenses in the country. Ole Miss has been one of the best teams at forcing turnovers and has one of the best interior defenses in the country, too. They do struggle on the perimeter though, but Arkansas has been merely above average on 3-pointers this year. What will be intriguing to see is how these teams play stylistically. Arkansas loves to push the tempo, but Ole Miss is one of the slower teams in the nation. This contrast of styles could result in a fascinating matchup this evening.