After a wild weekend in which Georgia took No. 1 Auburn down to the final seconds and Kentucky took care of Alabama, Tuesday night could end up bringing us a little more craziness. The headliner is no doubt Auburn vs. Arkansas in Fayetteville since both teams are on a winning streak.
Auburn (22-1, 10-0) at Arkansas (18-5, 7-3) 7 pm ET on ESPN2
The Tigers are coming off a 74-72 win over Georgia in which Wendell Green Jr. hit the game-winning basket with 3.2 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs gave Bruce Pearl’s team all they wanted and then some, especially from outside the arc. The Tigers have won their last 19 games and looked good in the process. Led by K.D. Johnson and Wendell Green Jr. at the point, the Tigers have attacked the basket and relied on solid perimeter shooting.
But tonight, Arkansas will present a tougher battle on defense, especially with on-ball pressure. The Razorbacks are led by JD Notae, who is averaging 18 points per game and who has scored 14 points or more during this 8-game winning streak. The biggest factor for the Tigers could be their own Jabari Smith, since he attempted only one shot in the second half against Georgia. For Auburn to go into Bud Walton Arena and leave with their streak intact, they’ll need Smith and Walker Kessler to contribute more.
Both teams are allowing only about 67 points per game, while scoring around 80 points each game themselves. So, we should expect both squads to put up their fair share of shots tonight. How will Arkansas stop Walker Kessler and Jabari Smith in the paint and around the basket? It will be up to Razorbacks forward Jaylin Williams to cause them problems. I don’t think Eric Musselman wants to get in a three-point shooting contest with Bruce Pearl, especially with how fast the Tigers are in transition. But I love this matchup, and I expect the home crowd to be a factor for this Arkansas team. This one should be fun.
Kentucky (19-4, 8-2) at South Carolina (13-9, 4-6) at 7 pm ET on ESPN
I don’t expect this game to be very competitive if Kentucky comes out firing on all cylinders. The Wildcats are coming off an impressive win at Alabama, where Oscar Tshiebwe dominated again, especially on the boards. Keion Brooks Jr. is a perfect companion for Tshiebwe, scoring 10 points against the Tide, and TyTY Washington, who averages 13 points a game, has become difficult for other teams to defend. John Calipari has found a lineup that can contribute in multiple ways, not only on the offensive side.
As for South Carolina, there’s just not much to say right now. Tennessee dominated them in the second half, despite Erik Stevenson putting up 13 points, and the Kentucky pressure and ability to score in the paint will dominate the Gamecocks as well. I don’t see this being much of a game, unless the Wildcats just come out cold.
LSU (16-7, 4-6) at Texas A&M (15-8, 4-6) at 7 pm ET on SECN
This game features two teams that are both headed in the wrong direction. The Aggies have now lost six in a row, and the Tigers have lost 6 of 7. There’s not much at all to get excited about for this game. Will Wade took his team to Vanderbilt, where they lost 75-66 and trailed by as much as 21 points at one point. You can blame a small part of that on injuries, but the Tigers just aren’t playing good basketball. There’s only so much Tari Eason, who leads the team in scoring, can do at the moment. I credit Darius Days for battling through some injuries, putting up 10 points against the Dores, but this team just isn’t getting enough from others.
As for Texas A&M, well, they look like a team that has lost confidence. Quenton Jackson is leading the Aggies with 13 points per game, and he had 17 points in the loss against Missouri. This squad plays with tenacity, but can’t seem to put it together for 40 minutes. I don’t know what Buzz Williams can do to turn this thing around, but a win over LSU tonight would be a start.
Missouri (9-13, 3-6) at Vanderbilt (12-10, 4-6) at 9 pm ET on SECN
Congrats to Vanderbilt on the nice home win over LSU this past weekend, but this squad still has a lot of work to do. Scottie Pippen Jr. is so much fun to watch, and he’s averaging almost 19 points per game. Forward Jordan Wright is coming off a nice performance against LSU, scoring 13 points, but this squad will need to play with more consistency, especially on defense. I know they had a 21-point lead against LSU, but they let them crawl back to within 5, making it a game. Kudos to Jerry Stackhouse for getting his team to bring it every night. I expect that to continue against Missouri.
The Tigers are led by Kobe Brown, who scored 21 points against Texas A&M. Cuonzo Martin has three different players averaging double digits, but this team is so inconsistent. They are giving up 70.5 points per game, while only averaging 66 points per game themselves. That’s a clear recipe for trouble. We’ll see if the Tigers can build off a win, but I expect Vanderbilt to add another to the win column tonight.
Enjoy the night of SEC Hoops!