Auburn riding 3-game winning streak, surging in SEC race
Here are some things to watch in Southeastern Conference basketball this week:
GAME OF THE WEEK
Auburn at No. 21 LSU: Auburn's bounced back from a tough stretch to win three games in a row. The Tigers (16-6, 5-4 Southeastern Conference) are also starting to get healthy: 6-foot-11 Austin Wiley played five minutes in a win against Florida for his first action since Jan. 16. His presence gives Auburn a needed boost in the paint. LSU bounced back from its only league loss with a 92-88 victory over Mississippi State on Wednesday. LSU (18-4, 8-1) has an 11-1 record at home this season.
Can Arkansas climb back into NCAA Tournament contention? The Razorbacks (14-8, 5-4) have quietly moved into fifth place in the league after a three-game winning streak, including a surprising 90-89 victory at LSU . Now they've got a difficult, but not impossible, stretch that includes road games against South Carolina and Missouri before returning home to face Mississippi State.
No. 1 Tennessee (21-1, 9-0) has a school-record 17 straight victories, giving the Volunteers the longest active winning streak of any Division I team. ... LSU's victory at Mississippi State on Wednesday was its third overtime road win of the season. The others were a 94-88 triumph at Arkansas and an 86-80 win at Missouri . ... No. 5 Kentucky (19-3, 8-1) has held each of its last six opponents to 63 points or less. The Wildcats' last three opponents haven't exceeded 55 points. ... Vanderbilt (9-13, 0-9) has made a 3-pointer in 1,053 straight games and Arkansas has made a 3-pointer in 999 consecutive games. ... Auburn's 76-62 victory over Florida (12-10, 4-5) marked the Tigers' first regular-season victory over the Gators since 1999. That doesn't include Auburn's SEC Tournament wins over Florida in 2000 and 2009.
Arkansas forward Daniel Gafford has scored 51 points over his past two games, looking every bit like the NBA prospect he's projected to be. The 6-foot-11 sophomore had 23 points on 11 of 15 shooting in an upset win over LSU and followed that with 28 points and nine rebounds against Vanderbilt in a hard-fought 69-66 win . Gafford is averaging 16.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting nearly 65 percent from the field.
ON THE WOMEN'S SIDE
No. 6 Mississippi State (21-1, 9-0) is outscoring teams by an average of 33.8 points and leads all Division I teams in scoring margin. Mississippi State's Jazzmun Holmes leads all Division I players in assist-turnover ratio (4.44). The Bulldogs have won 25 straight SEC games heading into Sunday's matchup with Tennessee. The SEC's only other ranked teams are No. 12 South Carolina (16-5, 8-1), No. 18 Texas A&M (18-4, 7-2) and No. 19 Kentucky (18-5, 5-4). Texas A&M has won seven straight games.