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The SEC-Big 12 Challenge took place again on Saturday, with multiple top-25 matchups being played. It was a good day for some teams in the Southeastern Conference, securing the 6-4 overall record and winning the challenge. Here is a look at how each team fared on Saturday.
No. 1 Auburn defeats Oklahoma 86-68
The Tigers were led by Jabari Smith, who recorded a double-double, with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Forward Walker Kessler was dominant in the paint, scoring 21 points and recording 9 rebounds. Auburn has now won 17 straight and currently sit at 20-1 on the season. Bruce Pearl also agreed to a new contract this weekend, setting up the future of the Auburn program. The Tigers will host Alabama on Tuesday.
TCU defeats No. 19 LSU 77-68
This LSU team was back to full strength for a while on Saturday, with Xavier Pinson returning to the lineup, along with Darius Days. But, it still wasn’t enough for the Tigers, even with four players scoring in the double-digits. This LSU team was sloppy at times with the ball and couldn’t do enough to stop the Horned Frogs from shooting 49% from the field. The Tigers are now 1-4 over the last five games and clearly need to fix certain defensive problems, while also getting healthy. The Tigers will host Ole Miss on Tuesday.
No. 23 Iowa State defeats Missouri 67-50
The Tigers are just a hot mess right now, sometimes showing up to play, but most of the time not bringing enough toughness to the court. It showed again on Saturday, with 18 turnovers for the Tigers and the Cyclones taking advantage of some sloppy defense from the Cuonzo Martin led team. The Tigers will host Florida on Wednesday.
Arkansas defeats West Virginia 77-68
The Hogs took care of business on Saturday, led by 19 points from Au’Diese Toney. The Razorbacks had four players with double-digit scoring, while also causing problems with their defensive effort. The Hogs out-rebounded the Mountaineers 44-26 and shot 45% from the field. A nice win for Arkansas, as they hop back into SEC play with momentum. The Razorbacks will head to Georgia on Wednesday.
Florida defeats Oklahoma State 81-72
Well, this turned into a wild comeback for the Gators. Oklahoma State was leading 32-16 at one point in the game, but Florida clamped down on defense and Tyree Appleby got hot. The Gators guard finished with 21 points, leading the Mike White led team in their big second half. This is a nice win for the Gators, who were looking for a spark during this conference break. This team is still struggling with injuries, but they’ll definitely take the win, as they look for momentum. The Gators head to Missouri on Wednesday.
Alabama defeats No. 4 Baylor 87-78
This Alabama team continues to shock me on a weekly basis. The Tide lost to the worst team in the SEC this past week at Georgia. But, now they turn around at beat the 4th ranked team in the country, in impressive fashion. Jahvon Quinerly continues to shine for Nate Oats, leading his team with 20 points, while Jaden Shackelford finished with 19 points and 9 rebounds. Alabama has now beaten three teams that played in last year’s final four, in Gonzaga, Baylor and Houston. Maybe this squad can take the momentum and bring it with them to No.1 Auburn on Tuesday night. That will be one heck of a game.
Ole Miss Defeats Kansas State 67-56
The Rebels pulled out a decent win on Saturday, led by Daeshun Ruffin, who scored 17 points, with 13 of them coming in the second half. Ole Miss led by 13 points in the second half, clamping down on defense and giving this squad a nice lead, even when the Wildcats went on a 7-0 run late. The Rebels needed this win, especially with a trip to LSU upcoming this week.
No. 13 Texas Tech defeats Mississippi State 76-50
The Red Raiders were too much for the Bulldogs tonight, especially on defense. Texas Tech forced 22 turnovers from Mississippi State and shot 61% from the field. Adonis Arms led the Red Raiders with 16 points and 7 assists, while Iverson Molinar led the Bulldogs with 12 points. The Bulldogs could never get anything going on Saturday and it paid off in a bad way. Mississippi State will now prepare for a visit from South Carolina.
No. 12 Kentucky defeats No. 5 Kansas 80-62
The Wildcats walked into Phog Allen Fieldhouse and left with the Jayhawks soul. This is the type of performance that we’ve seen from Kentucky before against Tennessee. The Cats were led by Keion Brooks, who put up 27 points and 8 rebounds. Also, Oscar Tshiebwe had a double-double, with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Kentucky was never in trouble at Kansas, holding a 20-point lead at halftime and never looking back. This was a total domination by the John Calipari led Cats, who now return to conference play against Vanderbilt on Wednesday. Kentucky looks like a team that’s ready to make a huge run towards March.
Texas defeats No. 18 Tennessee 52-51
This game delivered one of the craziest endings we’ve seen this season. Texas led 27-25 at halftime, after both teams struggled to get much going on the offensive end during the first twenty minutes. The second half brought out the weirdest string of scoring I’ve seen in a while. The Vols didn’t hit a shot until the 14:42 mark in the 2nd half, only scoring 5 points until the 8:57 mark, while Texas went on a 22-7 run. Tennessee was shooting 11.8% from the field, 1-14 during this stretch. But, just when you thought the Vols were finished, they went on a 15-2 run to cut the Longhorns lead down to 51-45 at the 1:58 mark, bringing life to the Tennessee fans in Austin. At this point, the Vols weren’t done, as Zakai Zeigler and Josiah-Jordan James got hot, and thanks to a put-back from Victor Bailey Jr., the game was tied. Unfortunately for the Vols, Texas had an opportunity at the free-throw line and took the 52-51 lead. Tennessee missed the game-winning shot and the comeback attempt was unsuccessful. The Vols will host Texas A&M on Tuesday night.
Overall, the SEC finished 6-4 on the day, winning the challenge. A few teams in the conference helped themselves with their tournament hopes, while some teams took some rough shots in non-conference play.
We’ll be back on Tuesday, with SEC play getting back on track.