FAYETTEVILLE - The tiers of Southeastern Conference basketball are not all that far apart when it comes to wins and losses. Nine teams have as many wins as losses. Another two have a chance, however small, to win the league in the regular season.

FAYETTEVILLE - The tiers of Southeastern Conference basketball are not all that far apart when it comes to wins and losses. Nine teams have as many wins as losses. Another two have a chance, however small, to win the league in the regular season.


The tiers, too, though, are discernible.


The contenders: Kentucky, LSU


The good ones: South Carolina, Texas A&M, Florida


The mid-pack: Ole Miss, Alabama, Georgia, Vanderbilt


The step-behind: Arkansas, Tennessee


The cellar dwellers: Mississippi State, Auburn, Missouri


Arkansas is 1-1 against those bottom teams. The third team, Auburn, awaits Wednesday night at Bud Walton Arena at 6 p.m.


Two weeks ago, the Razorbacks found themselves in the third tier and cleanly. It could have been argued, even, Arkansas was one of the "good ones." A win over the then-No. 5 Aggies and a handling of Texas Tech in the Big 12/SEC Challenge had postseason possibilities back on the front-burner.


Now, Arkansas is fighting to finish the league at .500. The team has lost three of four, including two in a row by a combined total of 48 points. One of those losses was to a bottom-tier Mississippi State and the other to Ole Miss, a team with which Arkansas was tied in the standings at the time.


A third straight loss Wednesday might even threaten to the send Arkansas down with the Bulldogs and dual Tigers. A win, combined with another Saturday against Missouri (again), would edge Arkansas closer to Alabama and Ole Miss in front of it. To do it, though, more is required than what was shown in the Magnolia State last week.


Poor shooting, which the Razorbacks had, is one thing. Shooting comes and goes. There was plenty more wrong, though. Namely rebounding. Mississippi State outrebounded Arkansas by 11 and Ole Miss did the same by a whopping 18. Accordingly, changes are coming.


"You’ll probably see a different lineup," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. "I think you know people attack the glass on us and we haven’t done a good job of combating that. And that’s all about toughness. You know size sometimes doesn’t make the difference but I think in this case it’ll help."


It was almost like Anderson didn’t want to admit it. The Razorbacks severely lack size.


Moses Kingsley, at 6-foot-10, is a possible All-SEC player. But much is often made of his inability to stay out of foul trouble. Yet, there are only three more frontcourt players on the entire roster and they’re even worse at avoiding infractions. Keaton Miles (6-7) and Trey Thompson (6-9) are offensively limited at a combined 6.1 points per game and the two have the worst foul rates on the entire roster. Thompson commits a personal foul every 5.7 minutes on the court. Miles every 6.1.


More often than not Anderson employs one frontcourt player with four guards. It usually provides Arkansas with its best chance to win. Except it hasn’t been scoring lately.


The good news is Auburn is similarly restricted. Center Tyler Harris matches with Kingsley on the block, but the team’s next biggest relevant player is Cinmeon Bowers. He’s only 6-7, but at 250 pounds, he can rebound among the best in the league, even from his usual spot as point-forward. Auburn’s problem, though, is a lack of scoring beyond those two. Leading scorer Kareem Canty left the team for personal reasons last week. He led Auburn in points (18.3), assists and 3-pointers.


Auburn beat Kentucky and Alabama from the upper tiers, but has lost seven straight games since, not a single loss came by single-digits. Most recently Vanderbilt blasted the Tigers by 29 points.


"It’s two teams that are kind of reeling trying to get some wins as we go down the stretch drive," Anderson said. "We have got popped on the road a couple of times and sometimes that can wear on your confidence. So for our guys it’s an opportunity for us to kind of re-energize and play with that energy we are capable of playing with and get the game in an up-tempo setting."


That pace would help bring Dusty Hannahs back to the norm. He was the team’s leading scorer before last week started, but he had just five points and zero points against Mississippi State and Ole Miss. The Razorbacks as a team shot 22 percent and 32 percent in those two games.


It was as ugly a week as any in Anderson’s five seasons. It has, in fact, recalled criticisms and calls for his job. A third straight loss to Auburn, an inferior team, would only heighten those. Anderson knows it.


"Last week was one of those bumps, so let’s see if we can get over that hurdle and get ready for this stretch drive. There’s three weeks left in the season and you want to be playing some of your better basketball right now. Are we playing it right now? That remains to be seen. But this week here is going to be really critical for our team."


Follow Eric on Twitter: @ericwbolin


Today’s Ticket


Auburn (9-15, 3-9 in SEC) at Arkansas (12-13, 5-7)


When: 6 p.m.


Where: Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville


TV: SEC Network


Radio: Razorback Sports Network


Line: Arkansas is favored by 13 points


Coaches: Auburn - Bruce Pearl (24-35 in second season); Arknasas - Mike Anderson (98-61 in fifth season)


Projected lineups: Auburn - G TJ Lang (6-7, So., 6.0 ppg), F Jordon Granger (6-8, Sr., 4.1 ppg), F Devin Waddell (6-5, Jr., 0.2 ppg), F Cinmeon Bowers (6-7, Sr., 10.9 ppg), C Tyler Harris (6-10, Sr., 13.8 ppg); Arkansas - G Jabril Durham (6-1, Sr., 6.2 ppg), G Anthlon Bell (6-3, Sr., 16.2 ppg), G Dusty Hannahs (6-3, Jr., 16.5 ppg), G Manny Watkins (6-3, Jr., 5.7 ppg), F Moses Kingsley (6-10, Jr., 15.9 ppg)