Sidelines with John Clay

Vanderbilt’s win over Texas A&M tightens SEC basketball race

Vanderbilt players Camron Justice (0), Nolan Cressler, center, and Samir Sehic (21) celebrate in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas A&M Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt won 77-60.
Vanderbilt players Camron Justice (0), Nolan Cressler, center, and Samir Sehic (21) celebrate in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas A&M Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt won 77-60. The Associated Press

Vanderbilt’s convincing 77-60 win over conference-leader Texas A&M on Thursday night squeezed the SEC race a little tighter heading into this Saturday’s games.

Jeff Roberson scored 20 points, Damian Jones snatched 10 rebounds and Kevin Stallings’ team played up to expectations in bashing the visiting Aggies. Vanderbilt shot 50.8 percent from the floor, compared to just 36.8 for A&M. Aggies’ forward Jalen Jones made just one of his 13 shots.

The loss dropped Billy Kennedy’s club into a first-place tie with LSU at 7-2. South Carolina, Kentucky and Florida are right behind at 6-3. Georgia and Vanderbilt are both 5-4.

Texas A&M returns home on Saturday to place South Carolina. The visiting Gamecocks suffered a 69-56 loss at Georgia this week. Frank Martin’s team is just 4-3 over its last seven games.

LSU plays host to a Mississippi State team which has won just two league games. LSU won at Auburn 80-68 behind 21 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists from Ben Simmons. It was just a week ago the Tigers took No. 1 Oklahoma to the wire before losing 77-75.

Florida is at Kentucky for a 4 p.m. game. The Gators are coming off an 87-83 home win over Arkansas. As we know, Kentucky blew a 21-point lead at Tennessee on the way to an 84-77 loss.

Vanderbilt travels to injury-riddled Ole Miss. And Georgia plays host to Auburn.

SEC men’s basketball standings

Team

W

L

W

L

Texas A&M

7

2

18

4

LSU

7

2

14

8

South Carolina

6

3

19

3

Kentucky

6

3

16

6

Florida

6

3

15

7

Georgia

5

4

12

8

Vanderbilt

5

4

13

9

Ole Miss

4

5

14

8

Arkansas

4

5

11

11

Tennessee

4

5

11

11

Alabama

3

6

12

9

Auburn

3

6

9

12

Miss State

2

7

9

12

Missouri

1

8

8

14

SEC men’s basketball games Saturday

12:00 - Missouri at Alabama (SEC)

4:00 - Florida at Kentucky (CBS)

4:00 - South Carolina at Texas A&M (ESPNU)

4:00 - Auburn at Georgia (SEC)

6:00 - Mississippi State at LSU (ESPN2)

8:00 - Tennessee at Arkansas (SEC)

8:00 - Vanderbilt at Ole Miss (ESPNU)

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