The Missouri Tigers haven’t lost four consecutive games since Mike Anderson’s first year as coach seven years ago.
Now comes Anderson and his Arkansas Razorbacks with a chance this week to extend these Tigers’ skid to four games, which would pretty much eliminate whatever is left of their chances of gaining an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
And if you believe some of the media experts, they still have a chance. CBSsports.com still included the Tigers on Monday as one of the last teams in, while USA Today put them as one of the last teams out. In the latest RPI rankings, the Tigers are 49th, just behind Tennessee (47th) and ahead of other SEC bubble teams Mississippi (56th), LSU (62nd) and Arkansas (75th).
No matter where they’re ranked today, their margin for error has disappeared like the patience of Jordan Clarkson, who called out some of his teammates after Saturday’s loss at Mississippi. "I think our coaches are doing a good job. I don’t think some of our players are accepting coaching right now," Clarkson told the media.
The Tigers’ schedule should allow them to get back on track. Of the remaining eight games, five are at home and only three are against teams with a winning record in conference. All six of Missouri’s conference losses have been to teams .500 or better in SEC play.
This week: At Tennessee on Tuesday, at Kentucky on Saturday
Last week: Beat Missouri 68-58, beat Alabama 78-69
This will be Gators’ toughest week yet in conference play. They have lost their past two games at Tennessee, their past six at Kentucky. Florida is rolling, though, having outscored the opposition by 52 points in a three-game home stand.
2. Kentucky (18-5, 8-2)
This week: At Auburn on Wednesday, Florida on Saturday
Last week: Beat Mississippi 80-64, won at Mississippi State 69-59
John Calipari wasn’t pleased with the effort of most of his freshmen in the victory over Mississippi State. "Dakari (Johnson) fought, but the rest of us just went through the motions of playing," the coach said. "I just don’t get it. But that’s what happens when you’re a young team." Calipari should not have to worry about the effort level on Saturday.
3. Mississippi (16-7, 7-3)
This week: At Alabama on Tuesday, at Georgia on Saturday
Last week: Lost at Kentucky 80-64, beat Missouri 91-88
Rebels coach Andy Kennedy called the victory over Missouri a "huge, huge" win. Why’s that? "It was a home win against a top 50 team that everyone has slotted ahead of us," he said. Tigers won’t be slotted ahead of Rebels now.
This week: Florida on Tuesday, at Missouri on Saturday
Last week: Lost at Vanderbilt 64-60, beat South Carolina 72-53
Few teams bounce back better than the Volunteers, who have responded with a victory after each one of their four conference losses — three times winning by double figures.
5. LSU (15-7, 6-4)
This week: At Texas A&M on Wednesday, at Arkansas on Saturday
Last week: Lost at Georgia 91-78, beat Auburn 87-80
After beating Kentucky and Arkansas, the Tigers missed their chance to establish themselves as the clear No. 3 team in the conference with a loss at Georgia.
6. Georgia (12-10, 6-4)
This week: At Mississippi State on Wednesday, Mississippi on Saturday
Last week: Lost to LSU 91-78, beat Texas A&M 47-44
Coming into SEC play, Bulldogs coach Mark Fox said his team was struggling because of a lack of defense and rebounding. But the Bulldogs have righted their ways in conference play. They lead the SEC in rebounding and rank third in opponents’ field-goal percentage.
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7. Vanderbilt (13-9, 5-5)
This week: At South Carolina on Wednesday, Texas A&M on Saturday
Last week: Beat Tennessee 64-60, lost to Arkansas 77-75
The short-handed Commodores’ four-game winning streak came to an end on a late 3-pointer by Arkansas’ Michael Qualls. The streak was Vandy’s longest in nearly two years.
8. Missouri (16-7, 4-6)
This week: Arkansas on Thursday, Tennessee on Saturday
Last week: Lost at Florida 68-58, lost at Mississippi 91-88
When trying to figure out what’s gone wrong in SEC play for the Tigers, don’t look past their defense — specifically, their ability to defend 3-pointers. In non-conference games, Missouri limited opponents to 6.1 made 3-pointers on 27.9 percent shooting. In conference, they have given up an average of 8.7 on 37.7 percent shooting.
9. Arkansas (15-8, 4-6)
This week: At Missouri on Thursday, LSU on Saturday
Last week: Beat Alabama 65-58, won at Vanderbilt 77-75
Mike Anderson got just his third victory on the road in 22 conference games since taking over at Arkansas Ã¢ÂÂ and his first against someone besides Auburn. Think he’d trade all three for a victory Thursday night?
10. Mississippi State (13-10, 3-7)
This week: Georgia on Wednesday, at Auburn on Saturday
Last week: Lost at Texas A&M 72-52, lost to Kentucky 69-59
The Bulldogs have lost five straight since a solid 3-2 start in the SEC. Like South Carolina and Auburn, Mississippi State still is looking for its first SEC road win.
11. Auburn (11-10, 3-7)
This week: Kentucky on Wednesday, Mississippi State on Saturday
Last week: Won at South Carolina 80-74, lost at LSU 87-80
Chris Denson edged ahead of Jabari Brown for the conference scoring lead after going for 29 and 24 points last week. A senior guard, Denson is averaging 20.2 points, Brown 20.1.
12. Alabama (9-14, 3-7)
This week: Mississippi on Saturday, at South Carolina on Saturday
Last week: Lost at Arkansas 65-58, lost at Florida 78-69
In its four-game losing streak, Alabama has scored more than 60 points only once. The Crimson Tide big men haven’t produced a double-figure scoring performance during the skid.