Vanderbilt making late push for NCAA Tournament


The Associated Press



Here are a few things to watch this week in Southeastern Conference basketball:

GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 16 Kentucky at Vanderbilt: The Commodores (17-11, 9-6 SEC) have resuscitated their NCAA Tournament hopes by winning four of their last five games, including an 87-74 victory at Florida on Tuesday. They can give their postseason hopes a boost by knocking off the SEC-leading Wildcats. Vanderbilt could use a second straight huge performance from Damian Jones, who scored a career-high 27 points and shot 12 of 13 against Florida.

LOOKING AHEAD: Florida is looking to stop its recent slide. The Gators (17-11, 8-7) seemed in good position for an NCAA bid recently before losing three of their last four games. That stretch includes home losses to Alabama and Vanderbilt. In an 87-74 loss to Vanderbilt, the Gators gave up their highest single-game point total since a 104-91 double-overtime victory over Georgia in January 2011. Florida visits slumping LSU, hosts Kentucky and travels to Missouri in its last three regular-season matchups. The Gators’ leading scorer — Dorian Finney-Smith — has shot just 8 of 33 from the field over his last three games.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Arkansas F Moses Kingsley: The 6-foot-10 junior from Nigeria has four straight double-doubles, giving him 15 for the season. He had 21 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks Tuesday in an 85-65 rout of LSU. Kingsley ranks eighth in the SEC in scoring (16.3), third in rebounding (9.4) and second in blocks (2.3). He’s also shooting 56.2 percent from the field.

NUMBERS GAME: Kentucky has scored at least 76 points in 11 straight SEC regular-season games for the first time since 1995-96. … At least one Kentucky player has scored 20 points in 18 straight games. The last time that happened was in 1989-90, when the streak reached 21 games. … Missouri has lost 25 consecutive road games. … Ole Miss guard Stefan Moody leads the league with 23 points per game. He’s scored at least 10 points in all 27 games he’s played and scored at least 20 points 21 times.

ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: Tennessee has fallen out of the Top 25 for the first time since February 1985, ending a string of 565 consecutive weeks in the poll. … For the second straight year, an injury has ended Georgia guard Shacobia Barbee’s season prematurely. Barbee underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a broken bone on her lower left leg. She broke the same bone in her right leg last season. Barbee led the Lady Bulldogs in assists (9.1) and ranked second on the team in points (12.7) and assists (3.8).

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The Associated Press

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