SEC Insider

EAST DIVISION
FLORIDA

The Gators (13-5, 5-2) suffered their first road loss in the SEC on Tuesday when Lawrence Roberts and company led Mississippi State to a 71-57 win in Starkville. Florida managed to stay with 50-47 before the Bulldogs capped things off with a 21-4 run.

Up next for Florida is an important home date with Alabama in a game being televised at 2 p.m.on Jefferson Pilot Sports.

"We are playing one of the better teams in our league," said Gators coach Billy Donovan. "Alabama has been proving recently that they are capable of having quite a bit of success on the road. But I am glad we are playing at home.

"Alabama has done a great job the last several years. They've had some great teams and have a lot of great players. Our games with them have been very close. Fortunately for us, we have come out on top of most of them."

GEORGIA
Despite scoring its most points since a 100-69 win over Savannah State on Dec. 28, Georgia still came up well short in a 95-79 loss at home against LSU on Wednesday.

The Bulldogs (7-11 overall, 1-7 SEC) have now lost three in a row and own the league's worst record, both overall and in conference play.

Georgia hosts South Carolina on Saturday.

"We are looking forward to playing South Carolina, even though we had a rough go of it a few weeks ago at Columbia," said Bulldogs coach Dennis Felton. "That game sort of got away from us, but we still fought hard. We've just got to take care of the ball and keep them from scoring a lot of points in transition with all of their athletes.

"They are long and athletic, which will present a challenge rebounding as well."

KENTUCKY
Kentucky (16-2, 7-0) did not have a midweek game scheduled after its hardfought 68-67 win at Arkansas last Saturday. And the Wildcats might need the extra rest as a trip to Vanderbilt is up next, a place which has proved to be tough in the past for Kentucky.

"I'm very impressed with the lineup change at Vanderbilt," said Wildcats coach Tubby Smith. "They have made a positive difference winning their last two games. They are shooting the ball very well and have beaten two good teams.

"We've had the week off after the Arkansas game last week. Hopefully we will be able to go into Nashville and play well Saturday."

SOUTH CAROLINA
Led by Tarence Kinsey's 12 points and 11 rebounds, South Carolina handled visiting Arkansas, 64-52, on Wednesday night.

The Gamecocks (12-7, 4-4) took control with a 13-2 run over 7 minutes and 34 seconds to go up 42-25 with 11:59 left.

South Carolina visits Georgia at 3 p.m. Saturday, still searching for its first road win of the season. The Gamecocks are 0-6 overall and 0-4 in the SEC on the road.

"Georgia is a team that certainly plays better at home than on the road But guess what? So does everybody else," said South Carolina coach Dave Odom. "So we can expect a great effort from Georgia on Saturday. We have played well, and close, on the road, but we have lost every single one of them so far. We just have to decide on a style of play that is best for us and need to stick with it."

TENNESSEE
Close, but no cigar.

Tennessee managed to play Vanderbilt tooth and nail Wednesday in Nashville before falling to the Commodores, 67-62. With the loss, the Volunteers are reeling in the middle of a four-game skid.

With five of its last six games on the road, Tennessee (13-8, 4-4) will be very happy to return to Knoxville on Saturday for a battle with LSU.

"I think we are playing one of the hottest teams in the league right now in LSU," said Vols coach Buzz Peterson. "Brandon Bass is one of the better players in this league. They rebound well and are the top team from the free throw line in the SEC.

"We are just glad we've got some home games and are looking forward to them starting with this one."

VANDERBILT
Freshman guard Alex Gordon scored a season-high 30 points, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range, as Vanderbilt held off Tennessee, 67-62, Wednesday night to sweep the season series from its instate rival.

The Commodores (13-8, 4-4) have now won two straight and will look for three in a row when they host Kentucky at 2 p.m. Saturday in a game being televised by Jefferson Pilot Sports.

"This has been a big week for our basketball team coming off four straight losses," said Vandy coach Kevin Stallings. "With three games in a row at home, this is a very important stretch for us. We are two-thirds of the way there now.

"Kentucky is a difficult challenge. Nobody has been able to beat them yet, so we hope to be the first."

WEST DIVISION
ALABAMA

The Crimson Tide have been off all week since a 75-47 win against Georgia back on Sunday. Alabama (17-3, 6-1) has now won six straight heading into its showdown at Florida on Saturday.

"Florida is a great challenge. It's one of the toughest places to play in college basketball," said 'Bama coach Mark Gottfreid. "We will need to play very well to be able to win this game. They are talented at every position.

"With Matt Walsh back now, the more he plays, the better they will be. They have guys at every position who can score."

ARKANSAS
The road woes continue for the Razorbacks.

Unable to adjust to the slow pace and South Carolina's zone defense, Arkansas (14-7, 2-6) was sent home with a 64-52 loss at Columbia on Wednesday night. The Hogs have now lost 13 straight SEC road games and are just 1-19 on the road in conference play in three years under Stan Heath.

Arkansas will get another shot at breaking the slump when it visits Ole Miss on Saturday. The game will be televised at 4 p.m. on Fox Sports Net.

"We are anxious to get back in the win column," Heath said. "We have played well recently, but we did not play that well at South Carolina. We need to get a win on the road.

"We are looking forward to seeing the response we get from our players this Saturday at Ole Miss. We need this one. We beat Ole Miss earlier at home, so we need to play well because they are a team that plays very well on their home court. I feel this team is due for a breakthrough on the road."

AUBURN
Despite keeping things relatively close for more than a half, Auburn still was left looking for its first SEC road win this season after falling to Ole Miss, 70-55, on Wednesday.

The Tigers (10-10, 1-6) -- who have now lost their last three SEC road games by an average of 29 points -- pulled within six points midway through the second half, before fading in the final 12 minutes against the Rebels.

The good news for Auburn is it's back at home Saturday. The bad news is the opponent, Mississippi State, a team that crushed the Tigers earlier this season in Starkville.

"Mississippi State handled us very easily the first time they played us. Plus, they did not have Marcus Campbell the first time we played them," said Auburn coach Jeff Lebo. "They shot the ball very well. It's kind of scary to think about Campbell. Most of our players don't even come up to his waist. He's getting better -- his lefty hook shot seems to be developing a little more.

"It will be tough on us when they play with him and Lawrence Roberts together at the same time."

LSU
LSU picked up its first road win of the season Wednesday with a 95-79 win at Georgia.

Antonio Hudson scored a career-high 26 points as Louisiana State won at Georgia for the first time in 14 years.

"Our team needed to get a road win, and we were able to do that at Georgia," said Tigers coach John Brady. "We guarded them better in the second half after they hit some shots over us in the first half."

LSU (12-6, 5-2) has now won three straight and sits just a game behind Alabama atop the SEC Western Division.

"We've played well recently, but last night may have been the best offensive performance of the season," said Brady. "We just have to try to carry it over to Tennessee. They have three home games in a row and are all very big for them, so we will have to be at our best."

The Tigers travel to Tennessee for a 6 p.m. contest Saturday.

MISSISSIPPI STATE
Beating the Bulldogs outside of Starkville is one thing. Trying to stop Mississippi State on its home court is a whole different story.

Led by Shane Power's 18 points and Marcus Campbell's 13 points and 11 rebounds, the Bulldogs cruised past Florida, 71-57, Tuesday at the Humphrey Coliseum to improve to 9-0 this season at home.

MSU has now won 13 consecutive games at home but will test the road waters again Saturday when it visits Auburn.

"It's a match up problem at the defensive end for us (against Auburn) because they are so small," said Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury. "They are very competitive, even if their record does not show that. They play very well at home.

"We will have an advantage when we have the ball, but so will they. They have played some very close ballgames against some very good teams at home."

OLE MISS
The Rebels completed the season sweep of Auburn Wednesday with a 70-55 victory against the Tigers in Oxford.

Justin Johnson scored a season-high 19 points as Ole Miss snapped a four-game losing streak.

Now the Rebels (12-10, 3-6) look to even the score against Arkansas when the Hogs visit Tad Smith Coliseum on Saturday.

"We are thankful we are this late in the season and are still this healthy," said Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes. "We have some confidence and had a very big win versus Auburn.

"Arkansas is going to be a tough match up for us. But we are in a good frame of mind after the win last night."


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