Looking back on the past week and looking ahead

It is Friday. That means we’re taking another look around the SEC to see what’s happening on the hard courts outside of Baton Rouge.

A lot has happened this week and it’s not over yet. On Saturday, we’ll see Kentucky head south to defeat Auburn in a game that has national implications.

Will Wade and his group travel to Knoxville to take on a Tennessee team seeking revenge.

Texas A&M and Arkansas will face each other in a match that could affect the bubble when the roster comes Sunday in March.

Elsewhere, Alabama, Florida and the state of Mississippi will strive to do business as home favorites in games they can’t afford to lose much.

Earlier this week, Florida took a big win over Mississippi. Things didn’t look good for the Gators at halftime, but they came to a close to secure an eight-point win. Florida needed the win to avoid falling to 1-4 in conference play.

It was a missed opportunity for Mississippi State to continue their win against Alabama with a road win in Gainesville. A few wins like that could have pushed the Bulldogs way out of the bubble and into the field of 68.

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LSU fans don’t need to be reminded of how good this Auburn team is. LSU went there in late December and had their worst performance of the year.

The scary thing about Auburn is how complete this team is. Wendell Green and KD Johnson are one of the best surveillance combos at the conference.

Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler are arguably the best starting field in college basketball.

Nationally, they have a top 15 offense and defense unit. In the attack they take care of the ball. In defense, they block shots and force turnovers.

It’s really hard to find fault with this team. They continued their run this past week with wins over Ole Miss and Georgia.

They face their toughest test of the season against Kentucky on Saturday. Whoever wins is seen as the favorite to win the SEC.

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Things didn’t look good in Gainesville. Mike White is once again coached for his job. Some Florida fans will say he shouldn’t even get the chance.

Florida has been disappointing for a while now. This year it looked like it would be like that again, and for all we know it could still be.

The Mississippi state victory bought them some time before the judge rules on Florida’s 2022 squad.

With less than nine minutes to go against the Bulldogs, Florida’s winning chance was only 17.1%. Then the Gators went on a 20-2 run to win behind a performance by senior Anthony Duruji, who scored 22 runs and grabbed five steals.

Florida ranks 26th in ESPN’s BPI, but only 64th in record strength. They need a few more wins to play in March.

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Arkansas has had a season of ups and downs. That is to say the least.

The Razorbacks were ranked 16th in the AP preseason poll and were ranked 10th earlier in the year.

They were 9-0 before a loss to Oklahoma kicked off a stretch in which they lost five out of six.

They have now won three in a row, including the win in Baton Rouge last weekend.

As of January 12, Arkansas has had one of the best defenses in the country, with each of their opponents staying under 60 points.

The performances by JD Notae and Jaylin Williams are an important reason for Arkansas to get back on the ground.

Eric Musselman’s squad also cashed in on their free throws and achieved success on the attacking boards. It’s still not a team that will threaten much from behind the arc.

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I hate to remind LSU fans of what happened in Tuscaloosa earlier this week, but Jaden Shackelford deserves all the credit.

His 26 points LSU lead the Crimson Tide. He also added four steals. In Alabama’s loss to Mississippi State last weekend, Shackelford scored 17.

Over the year, Shackelford ranks fourth in the SEC in points per game and has been the go-to man for a violation that ranks 10th nationally in KenPom.

He also averages 5.8 rebounds per game in 2021-22.

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I said there were some big games in the SEC on Saturday. I’m going to do my best to pick them.

Kentucky in Auburn

This game is hard, really hard. Auburn has looked good all year, but Kentucky looked really dominant against Tennessee this past weekend.

If both teams try their best, this game could turn out to be something crazy. When things get crazy, I tend to lean Auburn.

LSU in Tennessee

We’ve already seen this game once this year and LSU looked good. I still don’t know how good Tennessee really is.

If LSU is healthy, they win this game. When Days and Pinson are out, I want the Vols to win.

Texas A&M in Arkansas

There’s a lot to like about this Texas A&M team. The Aggies won when these teams faced each other a few weeks ago. This is another Arkansas team now and I expect them to stay warm and take the win at home.

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