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Feb. 6, 2018; Lexington, Ky. Tennessee's Jordan Bone shoots a layup during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky. Mandatory Credit: James Crisp-Associated Press

SEC Hoops: Kentucky, Alabama Fall and Tennessee Rises

No. 15 Tennessee continued their hot streak last night when they defeated No. 24 Kentucky 61-59. Tennessee has now won nine of their last ten games. Meanwhile, Mississippi State beat Alabama 67-63, Missouri beat Ole Miss 75-69, and Arkansas beat South Carolina 81-65.

Trial and Triumph

Kentucky’s struggles continue as they failed to close out the Volunteers. With the game on the line and the shot clock turned off, Kentucky freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander coughed up the ball to seal their second loss to Tennessee this season. Inversely, Tennessee’s Lamonte Turner rose to the occasion with 16 points to lead all scorers, including a three-pointer to take the lead with under 30 seconds remaining.

Kentucky has some growing up to do this season. They began the season ranked No. 6, but also began with five freshman, none of which are the NBA lottery talent that coach Calipari has grown accustomed to. They now have lost four of their last seven, and have yet to find a reliable option in key moments. Until they do, they will continue to squander opportunities as they did last night. Kentucky will have a chance to put themselves back on the map next Wednesday when they take on No. 8 Auburn.

Jockeying for Position

With less than a month of regular season play remaining, conference rankings can determine whether or not teams get to continue to play through March. Auburn and Tennessee remain on top of the SEC, but following them is a five team tie for 3rd. Each team (Florida, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Missouri, and Alabama) has six conference wins. Each team also has five losses, with the exception of Florida who plays their 11th SEC game tonight against LSU. A win would separate Florida from the pack and put them one game behind Tennessee for 2nd.

The Weatherspoon brother combined for 31 points in Mississippi State’s victory over Alabama. Tennessee is the only remaining ranked opponent for Mississippi State.¬†Missouri likely has the easiest remaining schedule. They only play one more ranked team, Kentucky, who they already defeated earlier this week.

Expect the SEC standings to continue to shuffle for the last few weeks of the season.

 

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