The Alabama basketball team, which was in contention for a possible double-bye in the Southeastern Conference Tournament just over a week ago, fell to the No. 10 seed on Saturday following an 82-70 loss at Arkansas.
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The Razorbacks’ win gave Arkansas and Alabama identical 8-10 SEC records but gave Arkansas the higher seed thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker.
As the No. 10 seed, Alabama will have the No. 7 seed Ole Miss at 6 p.m. CT on Thursday in Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. The winner will face No. 2 seed Kentucky on Friday. Kentucky has eliminated Alabama from the SEC Tournament in each of the past three years.
In the only regular season meeting between the two teams, Alabama beat Ole Miss 74-53 in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 22.
LSU finished as the SEC champion and the top seed, closing its season with an 80-59 win over Vanderbilt despite the suspension of the LSU coach Will Wade and two of the key players. The loss left Vanderbilt with an 0–18 record in SEC play this year and, inevitably, the No. 14 seed.
Alabama has lost six of its last eight games and Crimson Tide head coach Avery Johnson said a “win or go home situation” might provide the spark that has been lacking down the stretch. Alabama dropped six of its final eight regular season games.
Auburn, which defeated Tennessee on Saturday to deny the Volunteers a share of the SEC title, finished as the No. 5 seed. The Tigers will play Thursday afternoon against the winner of Wednesday’s first-round game between No. 12 seed Missouri and No. 13 Georgia.
LSU, Kentucky, Tennessee and No. 4 seed South Carolina all earned byes into Friday’s quarterfinal round.
Alabama has won its opening game in the tournament on each of Johnson’s three previous appearances.