This week in SEC hoops: Alabama, Kentucky stay unbeaten


It took just two weeks into conference play for the SEC to have to start shuffling the schedule due to COVID-19. Coronavirus positives forced both Missouri and South Carolina to pause activities last week. Both teams had their Saturday matchups postponed, resulting in LSU playing Ole Miss on about 36 hours notice, and neither team will play Tuesday as scheduled, either. That has produced the scheduling oddity of Vanderbilt and Tennessee playing one another two times in five days this week. It’s the second COVID-related shutdown for South Carolina, which has played just five games this season.

There was plenty of action on the court, as well. Alabama knocked off both Florida and Auburn to remain undefeated in league play. Kentucky continued its turnaround after a six-game losing streak by squeaking past Vanderbilt then blowing out Florida. LSU, Tennessee and Mississippi State each went 2-0 on the week. The Bulldogs, of course, picked up their first win by turning a 14-point second-half deficit into a 15-point win against Missouri.

At the start of each week during the season, we will refresh the SEC standings, highlight a few notable results from the previous set of games and look forward to the matchups to come. Here is this week’s SEC hoops roundup.

John Calipari and Kentucky have won three games in a row after losing six straight to finish non-conference play. (UGA Sports Communications)

Risers and Fallers

While the focus in Alabama has, rightly, been on a Crimson Tide football team that has dominated college football’s postseason awards and will play for a national title Monday night, the basketball team just keeps winning. Nate Oates’ team proved its win over Tennessee was no fluke by cruising to a 15-point win over Tennessee, then outlasting rival Auburn in a shootout. Perhaps most impressive: the Crimson Tide won both games without starting guard Jahvon Quinerly due to an undisclosed medical condition. Alabama’s calling card has been its balance — the Crimson Tide are averaging 83.3 points per game during conference play, but no player is averaging more than 13.1 per game on the year. Seven different players scored in double-digits in at least one of Alabama’s two wins last week.

The other team without a loss in conference play (aside from South Carolina, which has played just one game) is Kentucky, which many left for dead after a six-game losing streak to end non-conference play. The Wildcats needed double-overtime to beat Mississippi State in their SEC opener, then survived Vanderbilt at home when a Commodore three rimmed out at the buzzer, but finally looked to put all the pieces together in a demolition of Florida on the road on Saturday. The Wildcats got two big games from graduate transfer forward Olivier Sarr this week, and the emergence of redshirt freshman guard Dontaie Allen as a three-point threat has greatly benefited a team that was struggling to shoot the ball. The Wildcats play Alabama on Tuesday in a game that will decide who sits atop the conference standings.

At the other end of the spectrum, six SEC teams failed to win a game this week, with five dropping two contests. Florida, which started SEC play with two wins, not only lost to Alabama and Kentucky but never looked competitive in the second half of either game. Texas A&M mustered just 54 points in both of its defeats. Auburn, Vanderbilt and Georgia continue to look like the cellar-dwellars of the league, with each team still searching for a first conference win. Georgia has been the inverse of Kentucky, winning all seven of its non-conference games against middling competition then losing three straight to start SEC play. The Bulldogs have allowed 92 points per game in those three losses. Vanderbilt put up a fight against both Kentucky and Mississippi State but lost both games by three points. Auburn got five-star freshman Sharife Cooper on the floor for the first time against Alabama, but his 26 points weren’t enough to get the Tigers into the win column.

Mizzou opponent tracker

As mentioned above, Missouri’s Tuesday matchup against Vanderbilt has already been postponed. However, there is optimism around the Tiger program that the team will be able to return to the floor for Saturday’s game at Texas A&M.

Texas A&M lost to both South Carolina and Tennessee by double-digits last week. The Aggies have struggled on offense en route to a 1-3 start to conference play, averaging 57 points per contest. Buzz Williams’ team has turned the ball over on more than 25 percent of possessions this season — an almost impossible rate that ranks last nationally among all high-major teams. Texas A&M is scheduled to play at Mississippi State on Wednesday before hosting Missouri.

This week’s schedule

Tuesday, Jan. 12

Tennessee at Vanderbilt: 6 p.m., ESPN2

Ole Miss at Florida: 6 p.m., SEC Network

Alabama at Kentucky: 8 p.m., ESPN

Wednesday, Jan. 13

Arkansas at LSU: 6 p.m: ESPN2

Auburn at Georgia: 6 p.m., SEC Network

Texas A&M at Mississippi State: 8 p.m., SEC Network

Saturday, Jan. 16

Georgia at Ole Miss: 11 a.m., ESPN2

Missouri at Texas A&M: 12 p.m., SEC Network

Kentucky at Auburn: 1 p.m., ESPN

Arkansas at Alabama: 2:30 p.m., SEC Network

Florida at Mississippi State: 3 p.m., ESPN 2

Vanderbilt at Tennessee: 5 p.m., SEC Network

South Carolina at LSU: 7:30 p.m., SEC Network

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Published: 2021-01-11 18:00:00

Tags: #week #SEC #hoops #Alabama #Kentucky #stay #unbeaten


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