While NCAA Tournament projections currently place the Auburn men's basketball team as a No. 9 seed, the Tigers still need to pick up a couple wins to keep their SEC record above .500 and ensure a spot in the Big Dance.
The Tiger face three formidable opponents in their final regular season games, starting with what is close to a must-win matchup against Mississippi State at home on Saturday.
The Tigers will have to face the Bulldogs without center Austin Wiley, who missed Wednesday's game against Georgia and is likely out for at least a week with the same lower leg issues that have kept him out for multiple stretches this season.
"He’s been going through this all season long," said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. "I think this is something he’ll be able to come back from. We just need to let it calm down and see how it progresses over the next week or so."
With Wiley out, the Tigers will likely need forward Chuma Okeke to continue to elevate his game over the last leg of the regular season and in the SEC Tournament.
In Auburn's blowout 80-53 loss to Kentucky last weekend, Okeke asserted himself more, leading the team in shot attempts with 13, while scoring 14 points, slightly above his season average of 11.3. Okeke and the Tigers will face a Mississippi State team led by guard Quinndary Weatherspoon, who is second on the league in scoring with 18.6 points per game.
The matchup between the Tigers and Bulldogs will tip off in Auburn Arena at 3 p.m. Saturday and be carried live on ESPNU.