USA Today Sports
Antoine Mason will be back in the fold when Auburn begins play in the first round of the SEC Tournament against Mississippi State on Wednesday in Nashville. Mason, the 13th-seeded Tigers’ second-leading scorer, missed the final three games of the regular season following the death of his father, former NBA forward Anthony Mason. Auburn went 0-3 without its senior guard to extend its losing streak to six games.
The 12th-seeded Bulldogs were on a lengthy slide of their own before snapping a five-game skid with a 52-43 win over Missouri on Saturday. Craig Sword scored 15 points and Mississippi State held an SEC opponent under 50 points for the first time since 2008 and recorded its most lopsided conference win of the season. The nine-point gap eclipsed a 78-71 victory at Auburn on Jan. 21, which also represents the Bulldogs’ best offensive effort in league play.
* Over is 16-5 in the last 21 meetings.
* Underdog is 9-1-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings.
* Tigers are 5-20-1 ATS in their last 26 neutral site games.
* Bulldogs are 3-1-1 ATS in their last five vs. Southeastern.
The Tigers’ youth is one reason for its first losing season since 2006 but one of its newcomers appears to have figured a few things out, as freshman Namon Wright is stepping up the aggression on the offensive end. Including a career-high 28 points in a win over Florida on Feb. 24, Wright has posted four straight double-digit efforts while making 12-of-24 3-pointers. Wright and fellow first-year guard Montaque Gill-Caesar – who ranks third on the team in scoring behind Johnathan Williams III and Clark – missed the previous meeting with South Carolina due to a suspension.
Only Missouri struggled more from the field than the Gamecocks among SEC teams and only Mississippi State was worse from beyond the arc, but improvement in that area has fueled South Carolina’s slight turnaround. Behind Michael Carrera’s effort, the Gamecocks shot 51.2 percent in the win over Tennessee and have posted a 49.3 percent mark over their last three games, nearly nine percentage points better than their season average. Leading scorer Duane Notice has hit 9-of-19 triples in that span while senior Tyrone Johnson is averaging 18.7 points on 55.6 percent shooting.
* Tigers are 1-4 ATS in their last five vs. Southeastern.
* Gamecocks are 0-6 ATS in their last six games following a S.U. win.
* Gamecocks are 4-15 ATS in their last 19 vs. Southeastern.
* Under is 5-0 in Tigers last five overall.