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Freshman forward Bam Adebayo helped the Kentucky Wildcats earn the top seed for this week's SEC men's basketball tournament in Nashville, and they are a No. 2 seed in ESPN's latest NCAA tournament projection.

TOURNEY TIME

Southeastern Conference men’s basketball tournament

At Bridgestone Arena; Nashville

Seeds listed; all times Eastern

All games through quarterfinals on SEC Network; semifinals and final on ESPN

Wednesday

› No. 12 Mississippi State vs. No. 13 LSU, 7 p.m.

› No. 11 Auburn vs. No. 14 Missouri, 9:30 p.m.

Thursday

› No. 8 Georgia vs. No. 9 Tennessee, 1 p.m.

› No. 5 Alabama vs. Mississippi State/LSU winner, 3:30 p.m.

› No. 7 Vanderbilt vs. No. 10 Texas A&M, 7 p.m.

› No. 6 Ole Miss vs. Auburn/Missouri winner, 9:30 p.m.

Friday

› No. 1 Kentucky vs. Georgia/Tennessee winner, 1 p.m.

› No. 4 South Carolina vs. Mississippi State/LSU/Alabama winner, 3:30 p.m.

› No. 2 Florida vs. Vanderbilt/Texas A&M winner, 7 p.m.

› No. 3 Arkansas vs. Auburn/Missouri/Ole Miss winner, 9:30 p.m.

Saturday

First semifinal, 1 p.m.

Second semifinal, 3:30 p.m.

Sunday

Championship game, 1 p.m.

At least he's consistent.

Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari has never been a promotional mouthpiece for the Southeastern Conference tournament, which starts Wednesday night at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena, and it's no different this time around.

"I wish none of us played in this tournament," Calipari said before the 2013 event. "Let's go on to the next tournament."

Calipari always has placed the importance of NCAA tournament preparation and seeding ahead of any value in a league tournament trophy. His Wildcats (26-5) are seeded first in this year's 14-team SEC field, having won the regular season with a 16-2 league record.

Kentucky, which has been seeded first or second in every SEC tournament under Calipari, will open play Friday afternoon against the winner of Thursday's matchup between eighth-seeded Georgia and ninth-seeded Tennessee.

"This tournament to me is all about preparation," Calipari said Saturday afternoon in a news conference after a 71-63 win at Texas A&M. "That's why I don't like it ending on a Sunday. When they throw you a Thursday game (in the NCAA tournament) like they did last year, that's five games in eight days if you get to the second (NCAA) game.

"It's five games in eight days for these young kids, and it's not fair. When you play Sunday and they put you in the Thursday bracket, you better hope the team that you face on Saturday (in the NCAA tournament) is as tired as you and that they played on Sunday."

Calipari's Wildcats were seeded fourth in the East Region of last year's NCAA tournament, thumping 13th-seeded Stony Brook 85-57 in the opener before losing to fifth-seeded Indiana 73-67 in the second round. Kentucky won last season's SEC tournament as the second seed, topping top-seeded Texas A&M in overtime, while the Hoosiers were seeded first in the Big Ten but were upset by Michigan in the quarterfinals.

Kentucky climbed to a No. 2 seed in Joe Lunardi's latest NCAA tournament projection released Sunday by ESPN, so staying on that line will be the objective this week.

Lunardi has five SEC teams in his 68-team field, with Florida seeded fourth, South Carolina eighth, Arkansas ninth and Vanderbilt 11th. He has the Commodores, who rallied to upset Florida on Saturday for a second time this season, first among his "Last Four In" and projected for a play-in game in Dayton, Ohio.

Sending five teams would be a noticeable improvement for the SEC compared to just three representatives in three of the past four NCAA tournaments. Georgia had climbed into NCAA tournament conversation before Saturday's 85-67 loss at Arkansas, which was the worst the Bulldogs have looked since losing junior forward Yante Maten to an MCL sprain on Feb. 18.

"This is the first time that we could not find a lineup that could not score and get stops," Georgia coach Mark Fox said Saturday in a news conference. "We just couldn't find that formula today. We are obviously very banged up, and this is the first time I thought it really got to us."

Both Georgia and Tennessee played Kentucky twice this season. The Volunteers pulled off an 82-80 upset of the Wildcats in Knoxville on Jan. 24, while the Bulldogs were swept but led Kentucky in the final minute of regulation in each game.

"All I know is that all the (SEC) teams gave us good games and should have beaten us," Calipari said. "This first game will be a hard game."

Mizzou making change

Missouri, which has finished last in the SEC in Kim Anderson's three seasons as coach, announced Sunday that Anderson will be replaced at the end of this season.

Anderson, who played for the Tigers under Norm Stewart, has a 26-67 record at his alma mater, including an 8-46 record in league games. He inherited a program left in the NCAA doghouse by predecessor Frank Haith — the Tigers vacated all 23 wins from Haith's final season in 2013-14, had two scholarships taken away and did not compete in last year's SEC tournament.

"I am grateful for having had the opportunity to serve as the head coach at my alma mater," Anderson said in a release. "While we have faced significant challenges over the last three years and have been unable to achieve the on-court results everyone would have liked, I do believe we have been able to stabilize the program while watching our players become responsible young men on and off the court."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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