A few things to watch in Southeastern Conference basketball this week:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 22 Kentucky at South Carolina. The SEC standings have South Carolina, Kentucky and LSU in a three-way tie for first place, and two of those teams matchup Saturday in Columbia. South Carolina has produced consecutive road victories over No. 15 Texas A&M and LSU in its last two games. Kentucky has won its last two games by an average margin of 26.5 points, but the Wildcats are just 2-5 in true road games.
LOOKING AHEAD: It’s a jumbled mess in the SEC standings, which should make for an intriguing race for the regular season title. South Carolina, Kentucky and LSU are tied atop the league at 8-3, but eight other teams — Texas A&M, Florida, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee — are within three games of the leaders.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Kentucky guard Jamal Murray. He scored 35 points against Florida on Saturday and followed that up with 24 points Tuesday in an 82-48 rout of Georgia. He’s the first player in Kentucky history to make at least one 3-pointer in each of his first 24 college games. Murray has 18.5 points per game and is on pace to finish with the highest scoring average of any Kentucky player in John Calipari’s seven seasons as coach. Brandon Knight averaged 17.3 points per game for Kentucky in 2010-11.
NUMBERS GAME: Texas A&M’s Anthony Collins was shooting 93.8 percent (30 of 32) from the free-throw line this season before missing a pair with his team down by one point in a 63-62 loss at Alabama on Wednesday. … Alabama has beaten four ranked teams this season. Alabama hadn’t beaten that many Top 25 teams in one regular season since 2001-02. … Tennessee is 11-2 at home but 1-10 away from Thompson-Boling Arena. The Volunteers are 1-7 in true road games and 0-3 at neutral sites. … Florida (16-8) already has matched its win total from last season, when the Gators finished 16-17 in their final season under Billy Donovan.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: No. 2 South Carolina suffered its first loss of the season Monday when it fell 66-54 to No. 1 Connecticut. The game drew 18,000 fans for the South Carolina women’s first sellout crowd at Colonial Life Arena. South Carolina is the only SEC team in the top 10 this week. Other ranked SEC teams include No. 11 Mississippi State, No. 15 Texas A&M, No. 16 Florida, No. 18 Kentucky and No. 25 Tennessee. The Lady Volunteers are trying to avoid slipping out of the Top 25 for the first time since February 1985.