SEC Basketball Power Rankings: A new No. 1 team, Alabama picks up huge win, Florida falters
It might have been overshadowed a bit by the football conference championship games, but this weekend was a busy one when it comes to SEC men’s basketball.
Alabama took down No. 3 Gonzaga in Seattle, Ole Miss kept Memphis in a free-fall, Tennessee won in Colorado and more.
So, how did this past week’s hoops action affect things when it comes to the SEC?
Here are our weekly power rankings of all 14 SEC men’s basketball squads:
14. Mizzou (4-4 overall, Last week: 11)
The Tigers are a mess right now. They trailed Liberty 35-14 at halftime in Lynchburg on Thursday night. The second half was only slightly better, as the Tigers were routed 66-45. That’s a horrible look for Cuonzo Martin’s squad. Martin’s seat has to be on fire right now. Mizzou takes on Eastern Illinois on Tuesday night. Then, Kansas, Utah and Illinois are the next 3 games. That could be a rough stretch for this team.
13. Georgia (3-5, LW: 14)
Georgia pulled off the stunner of last week, taking down then-No. 18 Memphis 71-68 in Athens on Wednesday night. Kario Oquendo picked a good time to have his best game, scoring a game-high 24 points, making an impact on both ends of the floor:
Kario Oquendo on both sides of the court ? @UGABasketball pic.twitter.com/wfcFGDRZpy
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 2, 2021
Memphis is in a free-fall now, but this was still a big win for Tom Crean and company. I expect the Bulldogs to beat Jacksonville on Tuesday night, but a Dec. 18 game against George Mason could be trouble.
12. South Carolina (6-2, LW: 13)
The Gamecocks had a weird week, getting blown out at Coastal Carolina before taking down Georgetown 80-67 in Columbia on Sunday. This weekend, they face another tough test, this time in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where they’ll play Florida State. Could we see another upset from Frank Martin’s squad? Literally nothing would surprise me with this team.
11. Vanderbilt (5-2, LW: 10)
It was a tale of 2 halves for Vanderbilt against SMU in Dallas on Saturday. At halftime, the Commodores held a 40-28 lead. In the second half, the Mustangs outscored Vandy 56-32 to earn an 84-72 victory. That’s not a great look for Jerry Stackhouse’s squad. We’ll see if they can bounce back in a pair of tough home games this week — vs. Temple on Tuesday night and vs. Loyola Chicago on Friday.
10. Ole Miss (6-2, LW: 12)
The Rebels are on a 3-game winning streak, handing Memphis another bad loss on Saturday. Jarkel Joiner scored a game-high 20 points and also had 8 rebounds and 5 steals in the 67-63 rivalry game against the Tigers. He was impressive in transition:
The SMOOOOOOOOOTH finger roll from @JarkelJoiner in transition!
? https://t.co/rkjpKYOY57 pic.twitter.com/1S1lXvp5Rp
— Ole Miss Men’s Basketball (@OleMissMBB) December 4, 2021
Joiner has emerged as the leader of this Ole Miss team. We’ll see if he can keep playing well on Saturday in Atlanta against Western Kentucky.
9. Mississippi State (6-2, LW: 8)
Minnesota is undefeated, yes, but this wasn’t a game the Bulldogs should have lost. This was, by far, the toughest opponent the Golden Gophers had played thus far. And, the game was in Starkville. But, Minnesota still left with an 81-76 victory. That loss really soured me on this Mississippi State squad. I expected this to be a team that competed for a top-5 spot in the SEC. Instead, there’s a lot of work to do before the Bulldogs can even be considered a top-7 team.
8. Texas A&M (7-1, LW: 9)
The Aggies played last Tuesday and don’t play again until Saturday, heading to Houston to take on TCU. That’s a game that will be a real test for Texas A&M. I’ve been impressed with this team so far, but picking up a win over the 6-1 Horned Frogs would be a real boost for the Aggies’ NCAA Tournament resume. We’ll see if Buzz Williams and company can keep piling up wins.
7. Florida (6-2, LW: 1)
My goodness. Florida lost at home to Texas Southern on Monday night. I had already written this section on Monday afternoon, assuming a win over the 0-7 Tigers. That was my mistake. Mike White followed up a loss at Oklahoma on Wednesday with an even more embarrassing loss to Texas Southern. The Gators were flat-out dominated by the Tigers, who earned a 69-54 victory in Gainesville.
Will White still be the coach this time next week? His seat has to be on fire right now.
6. Kentucky (6-1, LW: 7)
I know some think the Wildcats are way too low here. My response? Play someone real. John Calipari loves talking about how tough Kentucky’s nonconference schedules are. Well, after an opening night neutral-court loss to Duke, the Wildcats have played Robert Morris, Mount St. Mary, Ohio, Albany, North Florida and Central Michigan, all at Rupp Arena. On Tuesday night, they’ll play Southern, also at Rupp.
That’s hardly a slate of opponents worthy of the No. 10 team. But, starting Saturday, we’ll finally get to see Kentucky against a real foe, when the Wildcats head to South Bend to take on Notre Dame. After that, games against Ohio State (in Las Vegas) and Louisville (at Rupp) will lead us into conference play. Those 3 games will show us what this Kentucky team is made of.
5. LSU (8-0, LW: 5)
Like Kentucky, LSU has a great record, but hasn’t had much meat on its nonconference schedule. I have liked what I’ve seen from Will Wade’s squad, but when your best win is against Wake Forest, that’s not great. It’s still better than Kentucky’s best win, though. Unlike Kentucky, we won’t get to see LSU get tested much until SEC play starts. LSU’s remaining nonconference foes are Georgia Tech, Northwestern State, Louisiana Tech and Lipscomb.
SEC play is going to get started with a bang for the Tigers, though. As things stand now, LSU’s first 7 SEC contests are against teams currently ranked in the top 25 (at Auburn, vs. Kentucky, vs. Tennessee, at Florida, vs. Arkansas, at Alabama and at Tennessee).
4. Auburn (7-1, LW: 4)
It was a block party in Auburn on Saturday, as the Tigers blocked 14 Yale shots in the 86-64 victory. Auburn had a major size advantage and exploited it in a big way:
While we wait on bowl announcements, please enjoy the bulk of Auburn's blocks from yesterday's win over Yale narrated by Jonathan Frankes pic.twitter.com/DpkMP9PBVW
— Jordan D. Hill (@JordanDavisHill) December 5, 2021
This weekend, the Tigers head to Atlanta to take on Nebraska in the Holiday Hoopsgiving tournament. We’ll see if Auburn can keep playing decent defense while continuing to improve on offense. This is a very dangerous Auburn squad.
3. Alabama (7-1, LW: 6)
Wow. What a Saturday for Alabama athletics, huh? Beat previously undefeated Georgia 41-24 to claim an SEC championship in football? Check. Beat No. 3 Gonzaga 91-82 in men’s hoops in a huge nonconference game? Also check. Alabama became the first school to ever beat teams ranked in the top 5 in both football and men’s basketball on the same day:
On Saturday, Alabama became the first school to beat AP top-5 teams in college football and men's college basketball on the same day.
The Crimson Tide took down No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship and No. 3 Gonzaga in the Battle in Seattle. pic.twitter.com/nW89HXTOMH
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 5, 2021
That’s insane. It’s frankly ridiculous how many good things are happening in the Alabama athletic department right now. Save some success for the rest of us!
2. Tennessee (6-1, LW: 3)
Tennessee went up to the altitude of Colorado on Saturday afternoon and beat the Buffaloes handily, 69-54. I’ll let Colorado coach Tad Boyle sum up the game, because he absolutely nailed it:
Colorado coach Tad Boyle on the reason his team lost 69-54 to Tennessee today in Boulder: “They had Kennedy Chandler and we didn’t."
— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) December 4, 2021
Yes, the freshman sensation for the Vols had 29 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal in the dominant performance. Here’s a full highlight video of his impressive game:
Kennedy Chandler drops 27 to lead No. 13 Tennessee to a win? @KChandler_1 pic.twitter.com/pFOMSym2sP
— B/R Hoops (@brhoops) December 4, 2021
Was this shot at the end of the second half necessary? Nah. But, why not? There was still time left in the game. Might as well keep playing:
Kennedy Chandler with the perfect cap to a legendary performance:
29 pts (13-20), 1 stl, 2 ast #Vols #NBADraft pic.twitter.com/HJLwdDgaPZ
— Caleb (@VolsAndDraft) December 4, 2021
He’s a superstar already and he’s a big reason why the Vols are going to be so dangerous in SEC play.
1. Arkansas (8-0, LW: 2)
Yes, that’s right, we have a new No. 1 team after Florida lost! The Razorbacks slide into the top spot with a perfect 8-0 record. The Hogs took down Central Arkansas and Little Rock this week, but tougher tests loom following a Tuesday night home game against Charlotte. On Saturday, the Hogs hit the road to take on Oklahoma in Norman. That was a disaster for the previous No. 1 team in these rankings, Florida. We’ll see if Eric Musselman can avoid being out-coached like Mike White was against Porter Moser.