- Associated Press - Friday, January 31, 2014

A look at five things to watch in the Southeastern Conference this week:

GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 11 Kentucky at Missouri. The Wildcats haven’t been very good on the road during Southeastern Conference play, losing to Arkansas and LSU. Missouri already has one big win this week - a road victory over Arkansas - and has won three of its last four. The Tigers’ talented backcourt of Jabari Brown, Earnest Ross and Jordan Clarkson combined for 59 points in the 75-71 victory over the Razorbacks.

LOOKING AHEAD: No. 3 Florida has emerged as the best team in the SEC, and the Gators could be even better now that they can add freshman forward Chris Walker, who was cleared to play by the NCAA on Wednesday. The 6-foot-10 Walker is expected to make his debut on Tuesday against Missouri. Florida coach Billy Donovan said Walker has played well in practice, and his size and athleticism will help add depth to a frontcourt that already has veterans Patric Young and Will Yeguete.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Tennessee could be relying on a freshman point guard in its quest for an NCAA tournament bid. Darius Thompson replaced slumping senior Antonio Barton in the starting lineup Wednesday and had seven points and seven assists with only two turnovers in the Volunteers’ 86-70 victory over Mississippi. Tennessee plays at Alabama on Saturday, so Thompson could spend much of the day matching up with Trevor Releford, a first-team all-SEC selection last year. “Freshman to seniors, it doesn’t matter,” Thompson said. “We’re just playing basketball.”

KEY STATS: Missouri’s Brown has scored 20 or more points in five straight games. During that stretch, he is averaging 24.4 points per game while shooting 69 percent (20 of 29) from 3-point range and 60.7 percent (37 of 61) overall. Missouri is 13-2 in Brown’s career when he scores over 20 points. Brown leads the SEC with 19.8 points per game.

ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: Sunday’s schedule features two games pitting ranked teams against each other. No. 13 Kentucky is hosting No. 14 LSU, and No. 17 Texas A&M; is playing at No. 16 Vanderbilt. A look at the Top 25 is indicative of the wide-open nature of this year’s SEC race. The conference has no teams in the top five, but it has six teams bunched between the No. 7 and No. 17 spots: No. 7 South Carolina, No. 10 Tennessee, Kentucky, LSU, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M.;


Compiled by Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tenn., and David Brandt in Jackson, Miss.

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