Alabama, Auburn Need Strong SEC Tournament Showings

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ATLANTA (AP) - Alabama and Auburn will have plenty at stake when
the SEC hoops tournament tips off Thursday.

The Crimson Tide opens with Kentucky and likely needs a big run to make the NCAA tournament. Alabama has lost five of its last seven games.

Point guard Ronald Steele says he will play against the Wildcats but won't be 100 percent healthy. Steele has missed the last two games with a sore left knee.

The Alabama-Kentucky winner plays Mississippi State.

The Tigers, meanwhile, open against Georgia. Auburn is hoping to secure a spot in the NIT barring an improbable run to the title.

The winner faces regular-season SEC champion Florida.

Auburn had a three-game winning streak snapped by Mississippi in
the regular-season finale. The Bulldogs have lost three of four games since beating the Tigers on February 17th in Athens.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)