Vanderbilt's surge gets it back into crowded SEC race
Here are a few things to watch in Southeastern Conference basketball this week:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: Vanderbilt at No. 20 Texas A&M: The surging Commodores (19-11, 11-6 SEC) have boosted their NCAA Tournament credentials considerably by winning six of their last seven games and could take another giant step forward by beating the Aggies on the road Saturday. Texas A&M (23-7, 12-5) is tied for first place with No. 22 Kentucky (22-8, 12-5) in the SEC standings and can clinch at least a share of the conference regular-season title with a victory.
LOOKING AHEAD: The top of the SEC is a crowded mess heading into the regular season's final weekend. Texas A&M and Kentucky are tied for first place and will end up sharing the regular-season championship if both win Saturday. But as many as four teams still have a shot at getting a share of the championship. If Vanderbilt beats Texas A&M and LSU beats Kentucky, the regular season would end with Texas A&M, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and LSU in a four-way tie for first.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Florida center John Egbunu: The Gators may be playing their way out of the NCAA Tournament field by losing four straight games, but Egbunu is surging while his team is struggling. The 6-foot-11 South Florida transfer had 22 points in a 96-91 loss at LSU on Saturday and followed that up by scoring 27 points Tuesday in an 88-79 loss to Kentucky.
NUMBERS GAME: LSU forward Ben Simmons has collected at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in six games this season, including each of his last three outings. .... Florida has allowed opponents to shoot 52 percent (25 of 48) from 3-point range over its last three games. ... Kentucky forward Jamal Murray has scored at least 20 points in nine straight games. This marks the longest string of 20-point games by a Kentucky player since Jodie Meeks had nine straight in 2008-09. ... No SEC team has a winning record in true road games. Texas A&M is 5-5 in true road games and every other SEC member is below .500 on the road.
ON THE WOMEN'S SIDE: No. 3 South Carolina was the first women's team to end the regular season undefeated in SEC play since Tennessee's 2010-11 squad. ... SEC coaches named South Carolina's A'ja Wilson the player of the year, South Carolina's Dawn Staley coach of the year and Missouri's Sophie Cunningham freshman of the year. Wilson also was selected defensive player of the year. First-team all-SEC picks by the coaches include Arkansas' Jessica Jackson, Georgia's Shacobia Barbee, Kentucky's Makayla Epps, Mississippi State's Victoria Vivians, Texas A&M's Courtney Walker and South Carolina's Alaina Coates, Tiffany Mitchell and Wilson.
AP Sports Writers Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tennessee, and David Brandt in Jackson, Mississippi, contributed to this story.