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This week in the SEC: It’s game day for conference play!

A crowded field at the top of the standings promises to make things interesting. Action tips off tonight at 7 p.m. ET on SEC Network, with No. 21 Texas A&M taking on No. 23 South Carolina in primetime.

Aahliyah Jackson and the No. 21 Texas A&M Aggies are looking to crush the spirits of the No. 23 South Carolina Gamecocks when SEC play tips off tonight.
Courtesy of Texas A&M Women’s Basketball

It’s game day for Southeastern Conference (SEC) play and the teams are pumped!

Each team — from No. 16 Kentucky (first in the SEC) all the way down to last-place Florida — has reason to feel confident heading into SEC competition.

In Week 8, all 14 SEC teams won their games against non-conference opponents.

So, momentum is high and the women should be pumped.


Where things stand

Heading into tipoff of tonight’s conference play, there is a logjam at the top of the standings. No. 16 Kentucky is in first place with a 13-1 record, followed by Auburn and No. 7 Mississippi State, with 12-1 records apiece. Next in line are four teams with 11-win seasons: No. 10 Tennessee (11-1), No. 21 Texas A&M (11-2), Arkansas (11-3) and Missouri (11-3).

The middle of the pack is occupied by just four teams — those with eight or nine wins for the season — including No. 23 South Carolina. The Gamecocks pulled away in the second half against unranked Furman on Dec. 30, 2018 for the 66-53 victory. But it was a 13-point win over a marginal mid-major team, leaving many questions about how an 8-4 team not only has remained in the top-25 AP poll but moved up two spaces. To legitimize its ranking and contend within the conference, South Carolina will need to beat SEC’s top-ranked teams this week.

At the bottom of the SEC are Ole Miss (6-8) and two teams that have fallen below .500: Vanderbilt (5-8) and Florida (4-9).

Perspective

Teams at the top with 12 or 13 wins will look to separate themselves from the 11-win teams nipping at their heels. Meanwhile, despite its record, Ole Miss has had some bright moments this season powered by the stellar performances of individual players, so this team will try to break into the middle of the pack. The middling Gamecocks are unlikely to climb in the standings, so the focus should be on not slipping towards the bottom.


SEC games of the week

Conference play tips off tonight with the following key matchups:

No. 7 Mississippi State Bulldogs at Arkansas Razorbacks

When: Thursday, Jan. 3, at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, AR

How to tune in: SEC Network

Need to know: Arkansas won’t roll over for the Bulldogs. The Razorbacks are 6-1 at home this season and riding a six-game winning streak. Mississippi State has more weapons, however, especially on the defensive end. But the contest should be interesting nonetheless.

No. 10 Tennessee Lady Volunteers at Auburn Tigers

When: Thursday, Jan. 3, at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Auburn Arena, Auburn, AL

How to tune in: SEC Network Plus

Need to know: The Tigers are undefeated at home this season (6-0), while the Lady Volunteers are 2-0 on the road. Both teams enter this game with only one loss, while Auburn has 12 wins to Tennessee’s 11. In other words, the matchup doesn’t get any more even than this one, with both teams scoring about 83 points per game and allowing about 64. Auburn’s Brooke Moore, the SEC Freshman of the Week, will be looking to show out.

No. 23 South Carolina Gamecocks at No. 21 Texas A&M Aggies

When: Thursday, Jan. 3, at 9 p.m. ET

Where: Reed Arena, College Station, TX

How to tune in: SEC Network

Need to know: The Aggies will be looking to push the Gamecocks out of the AP top 25. Last time out, South Carolina had the ball stolen 13 times against unranked Furman on Dec. 30, 2018, while the Aggies out-rebounded UT Rio Grande 48-17 on Dec. 29, 2018. Thus, the Aggies have the stronger defense heading into a game with major implications. If the Aggies win, they will rise in the AP rankings and garner the attention they deserve. For the Gamecocks, however, a loss would further demonstrate their inability to win against ranked teams. The Aggies definitely have the edge in this one, with the Gamecocks still having a lot to prove.

Eight other teams are in action tonight and the complete game-day schedule can be found HERE.


Elsewhere in the SEC

  • The SEC Player of the Week for Week 8 is Crystal Allen from Ole Miss. A career-high 34 points against North Florida — “the most points scored by any SEC player this season” — on 11-of-17 shooting and 9-of-15 from three-point range sealed the deal. Congrats, Crystal! What a way to sparkle.
  • The SEC Freshman of the Week for Week 8 is Auburn’s Brooke Moore, who scored a career-high 23 points in the Tigers’ 83-50 win over Alabama State last week. “Her 23 points marked the highest scoring total for an Auburn player so far this season,” and the frosh also set a career-high in three-point shooting by making five in the same game. Tigers fans: “Moore, please.”

Click here for more on SEC women’s basketball.