A look at the upcoming week around the Southeastern Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 15 Tennessee at Alabama: Tennessee (18-5, 8-3 SEC) has won six straight and nine of its last 10 games to take over sole possession of second place in the SEC. The Vols are coming off a 61-59 victory at No. 24 Kentucky that marked the first time since 2006 that they've beaten the Wildcats at Rupp Arena. Tennessee has shown it can win away from home by going 6-2 in true road games and 2-1 at neutral sites this year. Alabama (15-9, 6-5) is looking to rebound Saturday after dropping two of its last three games. Another game to watch Saturday is Kentucky (17-7, 6-5) at Texas A&M (16-8, 5-6). The Aggies have recovered from an 0-5 start to league competition and won 81-80 at No. 8 Auburn on Thursday.
LOOKING AHEAD: How many NCAA Tournament bids could this league get? The SEC never has sent more than six teams to the NCAA Tournament, but that could change this year. Through Thursday's games, the SEC had nine teams ranked 55th or higher in the RPI : Auburn (9th), Tennessee (11th), Kentucky (15th), Texas A&M (18th), Missouri (30th), Arkansas (35th), Alabama (42nd), Florida (50th) and Mississippi State (55th). The issue the SEC faces is whether the league's balance could cause teams to beat up on one another so often that a few fall out of NCAA contention.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Mississippi State's recent surge has benefited from the family connection of junior Quinndary Weatherspoon and freshman Nick Weatherspoon. The two brothers are averaging a combined 31.5 points during the Bulldogs' four-game winning streak. Quinndary Weatherspoon ranks 12th in the SEC in scoring (15.0), 16th in rebounding (6.0) and eighth in assists (3.9). Nick Weatherspoon is the reigning SEC freshman of the week. Mississippi State has its longest conference winning streak since 2008 and has gone 16-1 at home to match a school single-season record for home victories.
NUMBERS GAME: Arkansas' Daryl Macon is the first Razorback since Corliss Williamson in 1994-95 to score 20-plus points in six straight games. Williamson led Arkansas to an NCAA Tournament runner-up finish that season. ... Kentucky's 61-59 loss to Tennessee was the first time the Wildcats had dropped a game in which the held the opponent to 63 points or less since a 60-54 loss to Connecticut in the 2014 NCAA Tournament final. Kentucky is 150-6 when holding opponents to 63 points or less during John Calipari's coaching tenure. ... Vanderbilt is 9-5 at Memorial Gym but 0-10 away from home this season. The Commodores are 0-8 in true road games and were 0-2 at the NIT Season Tip-Off in Brooklyn, New York. ... Texas A&M's victory at Auburn dropped the Tigers to 12-1 at home this season. Texas A&M owns a perfect 4-0 record at Auburn Arena since the building opened in 2010. ... Tennessee has held its last eight opponents below 65 points.
ON THE WOMEN'S SIDE: No. 2 Mississippi State outscored No. 7 South Carolina 28-9 in the fourth quarter Monday to beat the defending national champions 67-53 in a rematch of last year's NCAA Tournament final . This marked the first time Mississippi State has beaten South Carolina since 2010. Mississippi State and No. 1 Connecticut are the only remaining undefeated teams.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tennessee.
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