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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Around SEC basketball: Feb. 10

Forecasts show plenty of high-scoring games this SEC basketball weekend with a thrilling non-conference tilt in store.
Junior+G+Jace+Carter+is+pushed+off+by+Florida+Freshman+F+Alex+Condon+%2821%29+during+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+game+against+Florida+on+Saturday%2C+Feb.+3%2C+2024+at+Reed+Arena
Photo by Ani Tummalapalli
Junior G Jace Carter is pushed off by Florida Freshman F Alex Condon (21) during Texas A&M’s game against Florida on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024 at Reed Arena

No. 16 Alabama at LSU

Saturday, Feb. 10 — Pete Maravich Assembly Center — Baton Rouge, Louisiana

12 p.m. on ESPN

Alabama comes soaring in with the highest-flying offense in the country, leading the nation with 89.9 points per game along with a mind-blowing 97.7 over its last three games. Fresh off a 99-67 drubbing of Mississippi State, the Crimson Tide are dominating their competition.

With senior guard Mark Sears leading the SEC with 20.1 points per game on a scorching 44.7% 3-point percentage, look for more gaudy totals on the box score. Coming off a season-high 14 points, freshman forward Mouhamed Dioubate could prove to be an asset for coach Nate Oats when looking for an interior presence.

LSU is on a roll, fresh off a 95-74 blowout against Arkansas. Senior F Will Baker made the most out of his opportunities, scoring 25 points on 81.8% shooting. However, he only managed two rebounds despite his 7-foot frame. He will need to continue that efficiency while improving his work on the boards if LSU hopes to have a shot.

Graduate G Jordan Wright could be an X-factor in deciding the outcome of the game. A highly-skilled scorer, Wright will need to avoid forcing up shots and get to his spots. Without great performances from the two, anticipate another Alabama win.

Prediction: Alabama 105, LSU 90

Vanderbilt at No. 15 South Carolina

Saturday, Feb. 10 — Colonial Life Arena — Columbia, South Carolina

1 p.m. on SEC Network

Vanderbilt managed to get its first conference win last weekend, beating fellow cellar-dweller Missouri, 68-61. However, a matchup versus red-hot South Carolina awaits it. A low-scoring affair is in store with the Commodores last in the league with 66.4 points per game and the Gamecocks above them at 72.7 points per game. Senior G Tyrin Lawrence is a spark plug on offense, but his tendency to shot-chuck may work against Vanderbilt against South Carolina’s stringent defense, which ranks first in the SEC at 64.1 points per game.

The Gamecocks are riding a five-game winning streak and don’t show any signs of stopping. Freshman F Collin Murray-Boyles was a standout last game against Ole Miss and his slashing style gives them an instant source of points against the Commodores’ weak paint defense.

Murray-Boyles is also a solid all-around performer and his quick thinking on defense will disrupt plenty of Vanderbilt’s plays. Graduate G Ta’Lon Cooper ranks third in the league with 4.4 assists per game and his decision-making should yield fruitful results in what should be a positive matchup.

Prediction: South Carolina 74, Vanderbilt 62

No. 12 Auburn at Florida

Saturday, Feb. 10 — Exactech Arena at Stephen C. O’Connell Center — Gainesville, Florida

3:30 p.m. on SEC Network

Auburn showed its resiliency last weekend, coming from down 44-35 to win 91-77 versus Ole Miss. Junior F Johnni Broome played a big part in that game, and his near triple-double performance of 15 points, nine rebounds and seven assists awarded him the SEC Player of the Week. Broome’s been on a tear the last four games, averaging an absurd four blocks per game while chipping in 17.5 points a night.

Look for him to protect the rim against a Gator team that loves to get to the inside. Junior G Denver Jones is a long-range sniper and his shooting will be key in giving the Tigers space.

Florida is coming off a last-second 67-66 defeat versus Texas A&M and is motivated to get back into the win column. Graduate G Zyon Pullin is the epitome of a floor general and has an excellent understanding of the pick and roll. His 5.1 assists per game are second in the SEC, demonstrating his ability to accurately hit the roll man.

Pullin’s not afraid to call his own number either, capable of racing towards the basket for easy shots. Graduate F Tyrese Samuel is the Gators’ big man and Pullin’s pick-and-roll partner, a big reason for his SEC-leading 57.7% field goal percentage. That partnership looks to be on point in the Florida upset.

Prediction: Florida 78, Auburn 76

Gonzaga at No. 17 Kentucky

Saturday, Feb. 10 — Rupp Arena — Lexington, Kentucky

4 p.m. on CBS

Gonzaga comes into this game looking to avenge its 64-62 loss to Saint Mary’s. The Bulldogs are a highly efficient team with their 50.5% field goal percentage ranking fifth in the nation. A big part of that is redshirt junior F Graham Ike, who combines that efficiency with highly effective offensive output.

Though Ike’s 15.3 points per game are a drop from last season’s 19.5, he appeared to be getting back into a rhythm, scoring 20 or more in three consecutive games before last weekend’s dud. Junior G Ryan Nembhard continues a legacy of point guards at Gonzaga, with his basketball IQ and quick-thinking netting 5.8 assists per game.

Kentucky has hit a cold front, losing three of its last four games. However, freshman G Rob Dillingham has been a bright spot, scoring 35 points in the team’s Tennessee loss. Combined with his 20 points at Florida, his performances led him to receive SEC Freshman of the Week while boosting his draft stock to that of a top-5 prospect. The formidable duo of Dillingham and fifth-year G Antonio Reeves looks to be unstoppable to guard.

The Wildcats’ biggest problem is on the other end, however, giving up 98.5 points per game in their last two games. Freshman G Reed Sheppard will be key in tightening things up, as his pestering defense on Nembhard should bolster his league-leading 2.3 steals per game. With freshman G D.J. Wagner returning from injury, the Wildcats have what it takes to eke out the win.

Prediction: Kentucky 95, Gonzaga 90

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About the Contributor
Eric Liu
Eric Liu, Sports Writer
Eric is a sophomore computer science major from Houston, TX. He is also double minoring in English and statistics. While at The Battalion, Eric has covered football, men's basketball, baseball, tennis, swim & dive and equestrian.
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