Auburn riding 3-game winning streak, surging in SEC race

Here are some things to watch in Southeastern Conference basketball this 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.

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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.


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.

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