Sidelines with John Clay

SEC basketball: Seventeen games down, one last game to go

Tennessee forward Admiral Schofield (5) drives on Mississippi State guard Xavian Stapleton during Tennessee’s 76-54 win at Starkville, Miss. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. Schofield scored 24 points in the win.
Tennessee forward Admiral Schofield (5) drives on Mississippi State guard Xavian Stapleton during Tennessee’s 76-54 win at Starkville, Miss. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. Schofield scored 24 points in the win. Associated Press

Time flies when you’re having fun, so here we are just one single solitary Saturday away from the conclusion of this tumultuous SEC basketball regular season.

There is plenty to play for, too, including Kentucky’s possible seeding in next week’s SEC Tournament across the mighty Mississippi River in St. Louis. My colleague Ben Roberts broke down what has to happen for John Calipari’s club to earn a double bye next week.

Meanwhile, the regular-season title is still up for grabs. Auburn and Tennessee are knotted at the top of the 14-team standings. Auburn has the upper hand, thanks to a 94-84 win over the Volunteers in Knoxville way back on Jan. 2. But Bruce Pearl’s club has hit the skids, losing three of their last four and four of their last seven games. It fell 92-81 at Arkansas on Tuesday.

Auburn (12-5) does finish with a home date Saturday, but the Tigers faces the same South Carolina team it lost to 84-75 in Columbia just two weeks ago. And Frank Martin’s Gamecocks have won three of their last four, including an 83-74 overtime triumph over LSU on Wednesday.

Tennessee (12-5) also finishes at home on Saturday. The Vols, who have won four of their last five, face Georgia. And that’s the same Georgia that handled Rick Barnes’ club 73-62 in Athens two weeks back.

One of the more interesting games Saturday features Arkansas (10-7) at Missouri (9-8). Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks have won six of their last seven, the lone loss being that 87-72 setback against visiting Kentucky last week. Missouri snapped a three-game losing streak by besting poor Vanderbilt 74-66 on Tuesday night in Nashville.

An Arkansas win over Mizzou clinches a double-bye for Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks in the league tournament.

[SEC basketball game-by-game results, schedules and leaders]

Mississippi State (9-8) missed its best chance at the double-bye when the Bulldogs came up small in a 76-54 home loss to Tennessee on Tuesday. MSU watched the sizzling Vols shoot 68 percent from the floor in the second half. Ben Howland’s club puts a bow on the the regular season Saturday in Baton Rouge at LSU.

If Kentucky (10-7) is the league’s hottest team, having won four straight, Alabama (8-9) is ice cold. Avery Johnson’s club has lost four straight, including the 73-52 thumping by Florida in Tuscaloosa on Tuesday night.

The Crimson Tide finishes out in College Station against Texas A&M (8-9), which is coming off back-to-back road wins. The Aggies beat Vanderbilt 89-81 in Nashville last Saturday, then held off host Georgia 61-60 on Wednesday. Billy Kennedy’s club needs a Saturday win to finish the regular season at .500 in league play.

Of course, Big Blue faithful are locked in on Saturday’s noon showdown with Florida in Gainesville on CBS. After dropping three straight to fall to 8-7 in the SEC, Mike White’s team has won back-to-back games, beating Auburn 72-66 at home and steamrolling Alabama by 21 points on the road.

SEC men’s basketball standings

Team

SEC

Overall

Auburn

12-5

24-6

Tennessee

12-5

22-7

Arkansas

10-7

21-9

Kentucky

10-7

21-9

Florida

10-7

19-11

Miss State

9-8

21-9

Missouri

9-8

19-11

Texas A&M

8-9

19-11

Alabama

8-9

17-13

LSU

7-10

16-13

Georgia

7-10

16-13

South Carolina

7-10

16-14

Ole Miss

5-12

12-18

Vanderbilt

5-12

11-19

SEC men’s basketball schedule

Saturday, March 3

  • 12:00 - Kentucky at Florida (CBS)
  • 1:00 - Mississippi State at LSU (SEC)
  • 2:00 - Alabama at Texas A&M (ESPN2)
  • 3:30 - South Carolina at Auburn (SEC)
  • 6:00 - Georgia at Tennessee (SEC)
  • 6:00 - Arkansas at Missouri (ESPN2)
  • 8:30 - Vanderbilt at Ole Miss (SEC)
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