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Takeaways from this week in SEC Basketball

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

After surviving a “rock fight” in Rupp Arena, according to John Calipari, the Kentucky Wildcats moved to 2-0 on the week. Let’s take a look at some of the other takeaways from around the Southeastern Conference this week.

1. Down go the Tigers, both of them

As of the beginning of this week, Kentucky was in a three-way tie for first place in the Southeastern Conference with both LSU and Auburn. All three teams took care of business in the weekday games, but Saturday was a different story. Kentucky certainly didn’t play their best, but picked up the win. Similarly, LSU and Auburn both struggled on Saturday, and fortunately for the Cats, both sets of Tigers fell to lesser opponents.

LSU was playing at 13-11 Alabama and the Tigers couldn’t slow down the offensive attack from the Crimson Tide, giving up 88 points, including a combined 53 point between Kira Lewis Jr and Jaden Schackelford. Alabama made 13 threes to down the Tigers, enough to break the single-season program record for threes in a season.

Even more impressive from Alabama’s win over LSU was that Herbert Jones had 6 points, 17 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks, all while essentially playing with one hand. Take a look at his extremely clutch one-handed free throws late in the game below.

As for Auburn, they traveled to 11-13 Missouri and were never really able to keep it close for the majority of the game. Losing by 13 at the half, Auburn managed to get it down to 5 with just over 15 minutes to play, but Mizzou stretched it back out to double-digits less than a minute later. Auburn never again brought it to under seven the rest of the game as Missouri cruised to a 12-point victory. Auburn shot 30 of 46 from the free throw line, but just 1 of 17 from three for 5.9%.

2. Cats sit alone at the top

With both of the ranked Tiger teams falling on Saturday, the door opened for Kentucky to take the step up to sitting alone atop the SEC standings. A lot can change over the next few weeks, as the Cats still have to play LSU this week, as well as Auburn at home later this year. The two sets of Tigers sit tied for second place, both at 9-3 in conference.

Both Florida and South Carolina sit just behind Auburn and LSU, two games back from Kentucky. The Kentucky loss to South Carolina isn’t as terrible as most would’ve thought, with the Gamecocks on the verge of a double-bye in the SEC Tournament. Frank Martin and company have gone 7-2 in conference since beating the Cats in the middle of January. The SEC is a tight race with so much more to decide over the next three weeks.

3. South Carolina stock rising, Arkansas stock falling

I mentioned above how impressive the Gamecocks of South Carolina have been as of late. A team that started the season with an 8-7 record before the win over Kentucky, now sits at 16-9. From not even considered for an NCAA Tournament bid to firmly on the bubble with some room to improve their résumé, as they still host LSU for a chance to pick up a big win. If South Carolina can finish the season strong, they have na outside shot of sneaking in the backdoor of the Big Dance come March.

Unfortunately, on the flip side of the coin, an Arkansas team that was once thought to be one of the best teams in the conference, now is struggling to pick up a singular win. Before Kentucky came to town, the Razorbacks were 14-2 and considered one of the surprising favorites in the SEC. However, since falling to Kentucky at home, Arkansas hasn’t been able to fully get back on track. The Razorbacks are 2-7 over their last nine games, including a loss at home this Saturday to Mississippi State, which marks their fourth straight loss. Arkansas is now most likely sitting on the outside, looking in on Selection Sunday unless they make some noise over the next few weeks.


Article written by Brett Bibbins

Graduate of the University of Kentucky in 2015. Spend my free time watching sports, The Office or Harry Potter. Three-word phrases to live by: For The Kids and Cats by 90 @BrettBibbinsKSR