SEC media predicts a return to form for Kentucky basketball this season

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Kentucky is the favorite to win the Southeastern Conference men’s basketball title, while defending champion Alabama is picked to finish second in voting among a panel of the league’s media.

Should Kentucky win the title and rebound from its 9-16 run last season, it would be the program’s 50th regular-season SEC championship. No other school comes close, with LSU in second place with 11 SEC regular-season titles.

The predicted order of finish: Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Auburn, LSU, Florida, Mississippi State, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and Georgia.

Voters picked Vanderbilt sophomore guard Scotty Pippen Jr. as preseason SEC player of the year in results released by the league on Tuesday.

Pippen headlined the first-team All-SEC picks that also included Kentucky guard Sahvir Wheeler, a Georgia transfer. Alabama guards Jaden Shackelford and Jahvon Quinerly also made the first team, along with Colin Castleton and Mississippi State’s Iverson Molinar.

Ties were not broken.

Wheeler was an All-SEC second team selection by both the league’s coaches and the media as a sophomore at Georgia. He led the conference in assists per game with 7.4, and he also led the Bulldogs in scoring with 14.0 per game and steals at 1.7.

Graduate student guard Kellan Grady and junior forwards Keion Brooks and Oscar Tshiebwe were named to the second team. Brooks and Wheeler also received at least one vote for the preseason pick for preseason SEC player of the year.

Joining the UK contingent on the second team were Arkansas’ Davonte Davis, Auburn’s Jabari Smith and LSU’s Darius Days.

Kentucky will begin exhibition play with its annual Blue-White Game at 7 p.m. Friday, with coverage on the SEC Network.

UK will follow that with tune-ups against Kentucky Wesleyan (7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29) and Miles College (7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5).

The 10th-ranked Wildcats will open the regular season in New York for the Champions Classic against ninth-ranked Duke on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

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