A look at five things to watch in the Southeastern Conference this week:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 1 Florida (28-2, 17-0 SEC) is going for an undefeated conference record this Saturday when it hosts No. 25 Kentucky (22-8, 12-5). The Gators haven’t lost in more than three months and are trying to solidify their standing as one of the favorites to take home a national championship. The Wildcats are still reeling after losing back-to-back games against Arkansas and South Carolina last week, though a win against Alabama on Tuesday helped stabilize the program.
LOOKING AHEAD: Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri are all fighting for position on the NCAA tournament bubble. The Razorbacks (21-9, 10-7) have helped themselves immensely over the past three weeks by winning six straight, including an overtime victory over Kentucky at Rupp Arena. Missouri (21-9, 9-8) travels to Tennessee (19-11, 10-7) on Saturday in a crucial game that could be a decisive factor for both programs in their quest for an NCAA berth.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Arkansas reserve guard Anthlon Bell has been making the most of his limited minutes lately. Bell has averaged 14.3 points in just 16.3 minutes over the team’s last four games. The 6-foot-3 sophomore shot 7 of 10 from 3-point range and scored a career-high 23 points in just 12 minutes Wednesday as Arkansas rolled to a 110-80 victory over Mississippi. Fourteen of his points came in a span of 2 minutes, 53 seconds. Bell’s previous career high had come Feb. 22 when he scored 19 points in 17 minutes to help Arkansas win 73-69 at Mississippi State.
KEY STATS: Arkansas’ six-game SEC winning streak is its longest since 1998. It has four 100-point games this year, its most since 2000-01. The other 13 SEC teams have four 100-point games combined. The Razorbacks’ 110 points on Wednesday were the most ever scored for the program in an SEC home game. … Ole Miss (17-13, 8-9) has lost six of seven games to fall out of the SEC race. The Rebels have shot just 38.2 percent from the field during that stretch, including 28.4 percent from 3-point range.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: Clinching its first SEC title in school history helped South Carolina dominate the all-SEC team that was voted on by the league’s coaches. South Carolina’s Dawn Staley was named coach of the year, and South Carolina guard Tiffany Mitchell was selected as player of the year. South Carolina center Alaina Coates was named the SEC’s freshman of the year and shared SEC sixth player of the year honors with Kentucky’s Jennifer O’Neill. Joining Mitchell as first-team all-SEC selections were Auburn’s Tyrese Tanner, Florida’s Jaterra Bonds, LSU’s Theresa Plaisance, Mississippi State’s Martha Alwal, Missouri’s Bri Kulas, Tennessee’s Meighan Simmons, Tennessee’s Isabelle Harrison and Texas A&M’s Courtney Walker.
Complied by AP Sports Writers Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tenn., and David Brandt in Jackson, Miss.
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)