Taking Peek At SEC Stretch Run

It was difficult to report that Alabama had "clinched at least a share of the Southeastern Conference Western Division championship" following the Crimson Tide's 69-56 win over Arkansas in Coleman Coliseum Saturday evening. The win avenged one of two SEC losses for Bama this year.

Alabama is now 10-2 in SEC games with four games to play. True, Mississippi State has a mathematical chance to tie Bama's record. The Bulldogs, who lost both games to the Crimson Tide this year, are 6-6. So, yes, if State won all four remaining games and Alabama lost all four – beginning with Auburn in Coleman Coliseum at 7 p.m. CST Wednesday – Bama and the Dogs would have identical records.

To ber honest, almost no one would fail to concede the West crown to Alabama. What the Crimson Tide now is looking for is the SEC regular season championship.

On Sunday, Florida pulled even with the Crimson Tide for the overall lead in the SEC as the Gators handed LSU its 10th consecutive conference loss, 68-61, in Baton Rouge. Florida is now 10-2 and the Alabama at Florida game on March 1 could loom large.

Following Saturday's win over Arkansas, Bama Coach Anthony Grant said, "We're not thinking about anything but the next game. We'll enjoy this one tonight, then begin working to get ready for Auburn."

Nevertheless, looking at the four remaining games for the contenders:

Alabama has Auburn at home, Ole Miss on the road, Florida on the road, and ends the season with Georgia in Coleman Coliseum, a game many think could figure into NCAA Tournament invitations. Alabama earlier defeated Auburn by 68-58 in Auburn and downed Ole Miss 74-64 in Tuscaloosa.

Florida hosts Georgia Thursday, then goes to Kentucky Saturday. The Gators host Alabama March 1 and finish at Vanderbilt on March 5. Florida defeated Georgia in double overtime, Vanderbilt in overtime, and Kentucky by two points in earlier games.

Alabama is now 18-8 overall. this season. Auburn will come into Coleman Coliseum with a 2-10 SEC record and 9-17 overall record.

Alabama improved to a perfect 14-0 at home this season and has won 15 straight dating back to last season.n The Tide is one of 22 unbeaten teams at home this season and just one of nine that are 14-0 or better at home this season.

Bama has now won 13 of its last 15 games.

Alabama's win over Arkansas was witnessed by a sellout crowd of 15,383. The sellout is Alabama's second straight and the third of the season.

Tony Mitchell led Alabama's victory over Arkansas. He had a career-high 27 points, including three of Bama's four dunks. (Another Mitchell dunk was waved off by a charging call.) The Tide has recorded 102 dunks this season, compared to 22 for Bama opponents.

Mitchell had his fifth 20-point game in the last six outings.

UA's defense forced 18 turnovers against an Arkansas team that came in averaging an SEC-low 13.3 per game. Of Alabama's 26 opponents, 20 have turned the ball over against Alabama at a rate greater than their season average.

Arkansas became the 17th opponent this season to score 60 or fewer points against the Tide. In Fayetteville, the Hogs had prevailed by 70-65, primarily because Arkansas shot 35 free throws in that game.

The Razorbacks shot 39.1 percent and are the 18th opponent to shoot below 40 percent against UA this season.

Alabama had 11 steals, its fifth SEC game with 10 or more steals.

BamaMag Top Stories