SEC Weekend Preview: Conference Openers

Posted by David Changas on December 28th, 2017

The last weekend of 2017 marks the first weekend of conference play for several SEC teams.Today we look at a few of the compelling match-ups that lie ahead on Saturday and Sunday.

Jaylen Barford (18.5 PPG) leads an explosive Arkansas offense that is averaging 90 points per game (

  • Tennessee at Arkansas. What looked before the season like a relatively nondescript opening game now appears to be the marquee SEC match-up on this weekend’s slate. The #19 Volunteers, picked to finish 13th in the preseason projections, head to a sold-out Bud Walton Arena for what could be one of the best games of the entire season. Tennessee has already won four games away from Knoxville, including two road wins against ACC competition. But beating the Razorbacks in Fayetteville will require its best performance of the season. The key to this contest might be whether the Vols, which force a lot of turnovers, can do so against an Arkansas team that takes care of the ball as well as any group in college basketball.

  • Vanderbilt at Florida. The 5-7 Commodores had a miserable time in pre-conference play and weren’t able to register any wins of significance against a fairly tough slate. They will get their next chance to turn things around with a trip to the O’Connell Center to open SEC play, where Florida has lost three of its last four outings. After such a promising showing at the PK80 on Thanksgiving weekend, things have quickly gone downhill for the Gators, a team that desperately needs to hold serve at home and get off to a good start in league play.
  • Texas A&M at Alabama. Another enticing match-up pits what will be a Texas A&M team playing without suspended guard DJ Hogg against an Alabama group still looking for its first marquee win of the season. The Crimson Tide have been competitive against a quality pre-conference schedule, but they have not been able to turn the corner in any of their close losses (Minnesota, UCF, Arizona). Alabama’s conference opener presents a perfect opportunity for a win against a top-10 team, as the Aggies come into the game ranked eighth nationally.
  • Georgia at Kentucky. In another game that matches teams with 9-2 records, Georgia looks to pull off an upset against a Kentucky team that will be two days removed from a home game against archrival Louisville. The Bulldogs continue to be led by Yante Maten and will need a yeoman’s effort from their senior forward to beat a group of Wildcats that are still looking for an identity. This is the type of game that Kentucky can ill afford to lose, but based upon how they have played so far this season, a win for John Calipari’s club is far from a sure thing.
David Changas (166 Posts)

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