SEC Tournament opens Wednesday with Gamecocks vs. Bulldogs, Aggies vs. Tigers

Mindaugas Kacinas

UK forward Willie Cauley-Stein defends South Carolina forward Mindaugas Kacinas during the first half of the men's basketball game vs. University of South Carolina at Rupp Arena, in Lexington, Ky., on Tuesday, February 05, 2013. Photo by Genevieve Adams | Staff.

By Les Johns | @KernelJohns

ljohns@kykernel.com

The SEC added two teams to the league this year (Missouri and Texas A&M), which added an extra round and an extra day of basketball to the annual post-season tournament.

The top four seeds have earned double byes, not having to play their first game until Friday.

The bottom four seeds, however, kick off the tourney in a Wednesday night doubleheader.

Game one: 12 seed South Carolina (14-17, 4-14  SEC) vs. 13 seed Mississippi State (9-21, 4-14 SEC)

7:30 p.m. – SEC Network (Channel WKYT 27 locally in Lexington) and ESPN3

These teams split their two regular-season meetings, with Mississippi State winning at home on Jan. 9, 56-54, and South Carolina winning the contest in Columbia on March 6, 79-72.

The winner of this game plays a streaking Tennessee team that needs another couple wins to potentially make the NCAA Tournament.

Either the Gamecocks or Bulldogs will meet the Vols Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

Game two – 11 seed Texas A&M (17-14, 7-11 SEC) vs. 14 seed Auburn (9-22, 3-15 SEC)

10 p.m. – SEC Network (Channel WKYT 27 locally in Lexington) and ESPN3

The Aggies won at Auburn 65-56 in these teams’ only matchup this season, riding 21 points from All-SEC senior guard Elston Turner.

Turner’s status is still unknown for this game, and the tournament, because of a broken finger on his non-shooting hand.

The Tigers have lost nine games in a row, and 15 of their last 16.

The winner of this game will close out the second night of the tournament Thursday against the likely NCAA tourney bound Missouri Tigers.