SDS Basketball Power Rankings: Auburn’s rough week, Vanderbilt’s streak ends and Florida’s bounce-back
The SEC basketball world is insane this year. Just when you think you have teams figured out, all hell breaks loose.
Here are just a few things that happened last week:
- Auburn went 0-2
- Alabama went 2-0
- South Carolina went 2-0
- Mississippi State went 2-0
- Vanderbilt went 0-for-25 from 3-point range
That, understandably, led to quite the shakeup in my rankings. With the Big 12/SEC Challenge set for this weekend, things could get even crazier!
Let’s take a look at this week’s SEC basketball power rankings:
14. Vanderbilt (8-9 overall, 0-4 in SEC play, Last Week: 14)
The Commodores continue to flounder in SEC play. On Saturday against Tennessee, Vanderbilt went 0-for-25 from 3-point range.
Not only was that epically futile — it also ended Vanderbilt’s streak of 1,080 games with at least one made 3-pointer. And, as you can see below, fans were not happy:
The crowd couldn't believe it…
Tennessee snaps Vanderbilt's streak of 1,080 consecutive games with a 3-pt made. pic.twitter.com/w2Q4LiRb9I
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) January 19, 2020
This has already been a long year for the Commodores, and it seems things are going to get worse before they get better with Aaron Nesmith still out. Games vs. Alabama on Wednesday and at South Carolina on Saturday won’t be easy, either.
13. Ole Miss (9-8, 0-4, LW: 9)
The Rebels once were in the top 5 of my rankings. Oh, how Kermit Davis’ team has fallen. Ole Miss got smoked at Florida on Tuesday and then lost a close one to LSU on Saturday.
Breein Tyree finished the game with 36 points, but the Rebels still couldn’t find a way to win. That’s not a good sign for this team moving forward, especially with road games against Tennessee (Tuesday) and Georgia (Saturday) this week.
12. Mizzou (9-8, 1-4, LW: 8)
Mizzou’s win over Florida a couple of weeks ago is looking more like a fluke with each subsequent game. Last week, the Tigers lost at Mississippi State and at Alabama in less-than-inspiring fashion.
The once-strong Tigers defense is falling apart, as this week showed. Mississippi State shot 54.5% from the floor and 38.5% from 3-point range. Meanwhile, Alabama shot 44.6% from the floor and 33.3% from long range against the once-proud Mizzou defense.
A Tuesday night home game against Texas A&M provides a great opportunity for Cuonzo Martin’s crew to get back on track before a tough matchup against West Virginia in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
11. Texas A&M (8-8, 2-3, LW: 12)
Josh Nebo continues to play well. He scored 20 points in an overtime loss vs. LSU on Tuesday night and 18 in a loss at South Carolina on Saturday.
If he keeps improving, the Aggies could have a 2-0 week. A&M travels to take on a struggling Mizzou squad on Tuesday night and then hosts Oklahoma State (0-5 in Big 12 play) in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Wins in those games might help the Aggies continue their upward ascent in Buzz Williams’ first year at the helm.
10. South Carolina (10-7, 2-2, LW: 13)
The Gamecocks continue to be one of the most baffling teams in the country. After losing to Florida and Tennessee in their first 2 SEC games, the Gamecocks bounced back with wins over Kentucky and Texas A&M last week.
The win over Kentucky was particularly dramatic, with Jermaine Couisnard providing the last-second heroics. He banked in this 3-pointer, part of a 26-point effort, to prevent overtime:
This week, South Carolina travels to Auburn on Wednesday night and then hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday. Literally anything could happen in those games, so bet on the Gamecocks at your own peril.
9. Mississippi State (11-6, 2-3, LW: 11)
Just when it looked like the Bulldogs were on their way to a horrible SEC season, they bounced back with 2 massive wins last week. First, they dominated Mizzou 72-45, then they trounced Georgia 91-59.
The Bulldogs are only 2-3 in SEC play, but big man Reggie Perry is playing like a 1st-round NBA Draft pick in those 5 games:
Reggie Perry in five SEC games:
18.6 PPG, 10.8 RPG.
Starting to play like the player everyone thought they'd see this year for Mississippi State.
Bulldogs have won two straight.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 20, 2020
Against Mizzou, he had 23 points and 10 rebounds. Against Georgia, he finished with 22 points and 12 boards. He’s really making a case for SEC Player of the Year honors.
8. Georgia (11-6, 1-3, LW: 6)
Georgia’s first 4 SEC games have been tough. Already, the Bulldogs have hosted Kentucky, went to Auburn, hosted Tennessee and played at Mississippi State.
Georgia blew out Tennessee last week, but then turned around and got blown out at Mississippi State. Still, freshman Anthony Edwards continues to grow. He had 26 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in the Dawgs’ 80-63 win against the Vols:
Georgia's Anthony Edwards showed off his shotmaking ability during a convincing win over Tennessee: 26 PTS in 31 MIN including 5-of-10 from behind the arc. Can get to his pull-up at will and made more of an effort to get downhill (8 FTAs). Most effortless scorer in the draft. pic.twitter.com/Wr2H0AlCef
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) January 16, 2020
He followed with 19 points in the loss at Mississippi State, though he only went 1-for-8 from 3-point range.
Georgia plays Kentucky again Tuesday night, this time at Rupp Arena. That’ll be a tough game before the Dawgs host Ole Miss on Saturday.
7. Tennessee (11-6, 3-2, LW: 7)
The Vols went 1-1 last week, losing to Georgia before beating Vanderbilt. The good news, though, is that struggling senior Jordan Bowden led the team in scoring in both contests.
Bowden had 12 points against Georgia and 21 against Vandy. It was also nice to see him making plays in transition like this pass to Yves Pons:
Another nice play from Jordan Bowden for Tennessee on the pass. pic.twitter.com/rEZhx7J4Ok
— Trey Wallace (@TreyWallace_) January 19, 2020
The next step? Bowden went 0-for-7 from 3-point range last week. As the Vols host Ole Miss on Tuesday night and travel to Kansas on Saturday, we’ll see if Bowden can rediscover his stroke from long range.
6. Alabama (3-2, 10-7, LW: 10)
Now that every SEC team has played 17 games (other than Texas A&M, with 16 games played), Alabama’s offense is the best in the conference. The Crimson Tide have fully bought into Nate Oats’ system, and it has started leading to victories.
Alabama has scored 1,419 points this year, ahead of 2nd-place LSU (1,359 points). The flip side to Oats’ fast-paced offense? The Tide have also given up the most points in the SEC (1,319).
Still, when you blow out Auburn and Mizzou in the same week, that style is fun to watch. Just look at Kira Lewis Jr. taking it to Auburn freshman Isaac Okoro:
Kira Lewis drops Isaac Okoro, finishes and then goes out with an injury pic.twitter.com/21CY21ppXr
— Ben Pfeifer (@Ben_Pfeifer_) January 16, 2020
Unfortunately, Lewis left the game after that. Still, he wasn’t out long, leading Alabama with 25 points in the victory.
Now, the Tide have a chance to run their winning streak to 4 games this week, traveling to Vanderbilt before hosting Kansas State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
5. Arkansas (14-3, 3-2, LW: 3)
The Razorbacks have lost to LSU and Kentucky, so they’re not exactly picking up bad losses, but I need to see more to move them back into the top 3. A blowout win over Vanderbilt isn’t exactly a “good” win for the NCAA Tournament résumé, and losing to Kentucky in Fayetteville was disappointing.
In the 75-55 win at Vanderbilt, the Commodores held Isaiah Joe to 12 points and Mason Jones to only 1 point. If you’d told Jerry Stackhouse that his team would limit that backcourt duo to 13 points, he’d have taken it 10 times out of 10.
However, the Commodores forgot to guard Jimmy Whitt Jr., who had 30 points and 8 rebounds in the win:
Jimmy Whitt Jr. racked up 30 points without the help of any shots from deep, but he sure did it with style: pic.twitter.com/GyrP5lCCxm
— Clara Goodwin (@5NEWSClara) January 16, 2020
Yeah, those are some high-percentage shots Whitt was getting.
After losing to Kentucky on Saturday, the Razorbacks will try to bounce back this week at Mississippi State on Wednesday and at home against TCU in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday.
4. Florida (12-5, 4-1, LW: 5)
After giving up 91 points at Mizzou 2 Saturdays ago, the Gators bounced back in a big way last week, taking down Ole Miss and Auburn, both in Gainesville. The beatdown of Auburn was especially impressive, as the Gators limited the high-scoring Tigers to only 47 points in the 69-47 victory.
Freshman big man Omar Payne had perhaps his best game, finishing with a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double:
Florida's Omar Payne, 6-10 223, had a fantastic game yesterday against Auburn going for 19 + 11.
Shot 9-9 from the floor and showed just how much of a problem his length is on the interior. Good athleticism + coordination as well for a big man. pic.twitter.com/mcsYiceyqb
— Derek Murray (@dmurrayNBA) January 19, 2020
Payne is just in the right place at the right time more often than not, and now it is leading to easy buckets. Now, though, the Gators face a huge week. They travel to Baton Rouge to take on LSU on Tuesday. Then, they draw perhaps the toughest test in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, as No. 1 Baylor comes to town Saturday.
3. Auburn (15-2, 3-2, LW: 1)
What an awful week for the Tigers. First, they lost by 19 points at Alabama, then followed with a 22-point loss at Florida.
However, things aren’t completely hopeless. It is hard to win on the road in league play. And those were Auburn’s first 2 losses. They’re still 9-0 at home, though, and will host South Carolina on Wednesday and Iowa State in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday.
Go 2-0 and defend their home court, and the Tigers will be back on track.
2. Kentucky (13-4, 4-1, LW: 2)
The Wildcats certainly had an interesting week. They lost at South Carolina on the last-second bank shot. Then, Saturday at Arkansas, coach John Calipari was tossed in the 2nd half when the score was still tied:
— gamedayalerts (@gamedayalerts) January 18, 2020
What made Coach Cal so upset? This illegal screen called on EJ Montgomery:
EJ Montgomery was called for an illegal screen on this play, resulting in John Calipari being ejected, resulting in Kentucky going on a 15-0 run and winning the game.
The Lord works in mysterious ways. pic.twitter.com/pSoz3QiKkQ
— Not Jerry Tipton (@NotJerryTipton) January 19, 2020
The Wildcats won 73-66, so perhaps Cal knew exactly what he was doing and was trying to light a fire under his players. Will that momentum carry into this week’s home game against Georgia (on Tuesday) and at No. 18 Texas Tech on Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
1. LSU (13-4, 5-0, LW: 4)
After LSU beat Tennessee by 14 points in its SEC opener, the Tigers’ past 4 SEC victories have come by a combined 11 points. Last week, the Tigers went on the road and beat Texas A&M in overtime and also took down Ole Miss.
They’re the only team still undefeated in SEC play, so they deserve the top spot. Freshman big man Trendon Watford continues to be a big part of LSU’s success. He only had 6 points against Ole Miss but grabbed 10 rebounds and also showed up some incredible footwork:
It's not just the guards with fantastic feet.
Like I told Trendon Watford: it's not fair to have this much size and this much skill. pic.twitter.com/bzRg6uby0Y
— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) January 19, 2020
Now, LSU will try to remain unbeaten in SEC play as the Tigers host Florida on Tuesday night and then travel to Texas to take on the Longhorns on Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.