SEC Basketball Power Rankings: A new No. 1 emerges, Florida continues to struggle and LSU has an awful week
The SEC basketball standings received quite a shakeup this week. After LSU lost twice — at Vanderbilt and at Auburn — there is now a 3-way tie atop the conference.
Who will win the regular-season title? That is very much up in the air, as LSU, Auburn and Kentucky all have identical 8-2 SEC records entering this week’s action.
How do the 14 teams stack up against one another as we move into the second full week of February? Here’s a look at this week’s power rankings:
14. Vanderbilt (9-14 overall, 1-9 in SEC, Last Week: 14)
Vanderbilt’s long, 26-game SEC losing streak is finally over! And, the win came in the most improbable fashion, as the Commodores took down an LSU team that entered the game with an unblemished 8-0 record in SEC play.
Saben Lee was electric in Nashville on Wednesday night, scoring 33 points to go with 6 assists and 4 rebounds. He also threw down this incredible dunk:
Understandably, everyone was in a good mood in the postgame locker room. First-year coach Jerry Stackhouse received an ice-water shower in celebration:
"I'm proud as hell of you guys, man." – @jerrystackhouse
— Vanderbilt Men's Basketball (@VandyMBB) February 6, 2020
This team has talent, but it just doesn’t translate into wins very often. On Saturday, they immediately went back to their losing ways, falling by 10 points against Mississippi State. However, there’s a chance the Commodores could catch another team sleeping down the stretch, so we’ll see how many conference victories they have before year’s end.
13. Georgia (12-11, 2-8, LW: 10)
Georgia had a rough week, blowing another 20-point lead, this time at Florida. Then, the Bulldogs lost in overtime to Alabama on Saturday.
Sahvir Wheeler had a big game against the Crimson Tide, scoring a team-high 24 points while dishing out 8 assists. Meanwhile, freshman Anthony Edwards struggled shooting, scoring 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting (0-for-6 from three-point range). However, he did make an impact on the boards, grabbing 12 rebounds.
This is a make-or-break week for Tom Crean’s squad. A home game against South Carolina looms large on Wednesday, and then the Bulldogs travel to take on Texas A&M on Saturday. They absolutely must go 2-0 to salvage anything at all from this season.
12. Mizzou (11-12, 3-7, LW: 12)
Mizzou picked up a hard-fought victory in front of a great home crowd on Saturday, taking down Arkansas 83-79 in overtime. However, the Tigers should have won in regulation, but this awful last-possession sequence resulted in Mizzou not even getting a shot off:
Shot. Clock. Violation.
Arkansas going into a timeout with 2.5 left to score or we’re headed for yet another OT game. pic.twitter.com/x3TVbtxGmt
— Nikki Chavanelle (@NikkiChavanelle) February 8, 2020
Fortunately for the Tigers, Xavier Pinson was magnificent, recording 24 points and 7 rebounds. He also dished out 3 assists, including this one to Reed Nikko (who had an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double):
— Eli Hoff (@byEliHoff) February 8, 2020
Mizzou won’t catch a break this week, as the Tigers take on a pair of other SEC Tigers — first heading to LSU on Tuesday and then hosting Auburn on Saturday. That’s a brutal pair of contests for this team.
11. Ole Miss (12-11, 3-7, LW: 13)
The Rebels finally played up to their potential last week, winning both of their games. First, they hosted South Carolina and picked up an 84-70 victory. Then, on Saturday, the Rebels hosted Florida and won 68-51.
Star guard Breein Tyree had a big week. He scored 38 points against South Carolina and here was his final stat line from the 2 games — 61 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 assists. He’s a scoring machine and is a ton of fun to watch.
Now, we’ll see if coach Kermit Davis can keep the Rebels rolling through this week’s tough slate. First, a rivalry game in Oxford against Mississippi State looms large on Tuesday. Then, they travel to Lexington to take on Kentucky.
10. Texas A&M (11-11, 5-5, LW: 11)
The Aggies had an up-and-down week, trouncing Mizzou 68-51 on Tuesday before getting blown out 74-54 by South Carolina on Saturday. That’s the sort of inconsistency that has plagued the team all year.
Still, Buzz Williams has the Aggies going in the right direction. Now, we just need to see if they can take advantage of home games against a pair of struggling teams this week (Florida on Wednesday and Georgia on Saturday).
9. Alabama (13-10, 5-5, LW: 8)
Alabama blew a big lead at Tennessee last week, but bounced back with an overtime win over Georgia on Saturday. Still, that wasn’t exactly an inspiring week for Nate Oats’ crew, considering the Bulldogs are the No. 13 team in these rankings.
However, Saturday was a great day for Kira Lewis Jr., who scored 37 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished out 5 assists in the win over Georgia:
Career-high 37 PTS (12/21 FG, 3/6 3FG + 10/15 FT) to go with 7 ASTS, 5 REBS + 2 STLS for Kira Lewis, who spearheaded #Alabama's 105-102 OT road win over #Georgia yesterday. Speedy guard has shot just 32.1% 3FG this season but is a tough to contain when he's knocking them down pic.twitter.com/iHWTYrEfnc
— DraftExpressContent (@DXContent) February 9, 2020
Now, the Crimson Tide face a brutal week, much like Mizzou. On Wednesday, they head to Auburn to take on the Tigers. Then, on Saturday, another group of Tigers — LSU — comes to Tuscaloosa. Those should be some exciting games.
8. Arkansas (16-7, 4-6, LW: 6)
Arkansas was on the wrong end of a pair of overtime losses this week, going down at home against Auburn and then losing in overtime at Mizzou on Saturday. The Hogs still sport a robust 16-7 overall record, but that 4-6 mark in SEC play will have them waiting nervously on Selection Sunday unless they can pick up a few more victories.
The Razorbacks certainly miss Isaiah Joe, but his return is still up in the air, so Eric Musselman’s squad needs to adjust in a hurry. They have a pair of intriguing opportunities to pick up impressive wins this week, traveling to Tennessee on Tuesday and hosting Mississippi State on Saturday.
Win those, and the Razorbacks will solidify their tourney resume. Lose, and they’ll be in serious danger of missing out on March Madness.
7. Tennessee (13-10, 5-5, LW: 9)
Jordan Bowden’s struggles continue to baffle me. This week, he scored a total of 36 points, but he only made 10 of his 29 shots and only 1 of his 10 three-point attempts.
Fortunately for the Vols, John Fulkerson played well in the comeback win over Alabama on Tuesday, scoring 22 points while going 8-for-9 from the field. He also threw down this nice alley-oop:
fly away Fulky! pic.twitter.com/FkeewuqpJg
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) February 5, 2020
This will be a big week for the Vols, who host Arkansas on Tuesday and head to South Carolina on Saturday. We’ll learn a lot about Rick Barnes’ crew over the next few days.
6. Florida (14-9, 6-4, LW: 5)
The Gators continue to be an inconsistent mess, and if the rest of the conference wasn’t in the same boat, they’d be a lot lower than No. 6 on my list. Yes, the Gators beat Georgia on Wednesday, but it only happened after they let the Bulldogs take a 20-point lead.
Then, on Saturday, the Gators let Ole Miss absolutely own them, losing 68-51. Scoring only 51 points against Ole Miss is unacceptable, and many people aren’t even mad at coach Mike White anymore.
Florida fans watching Mike White’s Gators these days… pic.twitter.com/jbn1sc2MoU
— Adam Spencer (@AdamSpencer4) February 8, 2020
An apathetic attitude is settling in around the Florida fan base, and that’s a dangerous thing. AD Scott Stricklin is going to have a tough decision to make about White’s future this offseason.
In the meantime, though, the Gators absolutely must have a 2-0 week this week, heading to Texas A&M on Wednesday and hosting Vanderbilt on Saturday. Losing either game would be an awful sign.
5. South Carolina (14-9, 6-4, LW: 7)
The Gamecocks aren’t always going to win, but they are always going to play tough and give their all. This team embodies its coach, Frank Martin, the most of any other team in the SEC.
After a 20-point win against Texas A&M on Saturday, though, even the normally serious Martin had to laugh at himself for an awkward phrase he used in his postgame press conference:
I need you to stop what you're doing and watch this clip of Frank Martin from after today's win over Texas A&M. pic.twitter.com/BY32coqzIk
— Cam Gaskins (@CamGaskinsTV) February 8, 2020
The Gamecocks have no business being 6-4 in SEC play, but here they are. Freshman Jermaine Couisnard continues to be a breakout star for this team, and with games against Georgia and Tennessee this week, it wouldn’t be crazy to see South Carolina work its way into contention for the regular-season title.
4. Mississippi State (15-8, 6-4, LW: 4)
Reggie Perry was out-dueled by fellow SEC Player of the Year candidate Nick Richards on Tuesday in a loss at Kentucky, but he bounced back in a huge way against Vanderbilt on Saturday. Once again, he posted a double-double, this time with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists.
The Bulldogs hit the road for a pair of tough games this week, going to rival Ole Miss on Tuesday and to Arkansas on Saturday. However, those are games they need to win to solidify their NCAA Tournament resume.
3. LSU (17-6, 8-2, LW: 1)
LSU has won a number of close games this SEC season after blowing big leads. On Saturday at Auburn, that habit finally came back to bite Will Wade’s team. LSU lost in overtime at Auburn after losing on Wednesday in embarrassing fashion at Vanderbilt.
It was a rough week, and the Tigers have no one but themselves to blame. They’ve had time to address the problem of blowing second-half leads, but that was what hurt them against Auburn. Auburn took 44 three-pointers, making 18. LSU inexplicably took 32 threes, making only 12. That played right into Auburn’s style.
It’s too bad LSU lost that game, because Skylar Mays was amazing. He finished with 30 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists to lead LSU:
6-4 + 22 y/o #LSU senior guard prospect Skylar Mays tied his career-high with 30 PTS on 8/16 FG + 10/10 FT in a 91-90 OT road loss to #Auburn. Added 8 ASTS, 7 REBS + 3 STLS in 42 MINS of playing time. Mays is 49th in our top-100 rankings, could use a strong finish to the season pic.twitter.com/zhgNNDlrDq
— DraftExpressContent (@DXContent) February 9, 2020
Still, the Tigers are tied with Kentucky and Auburn atop the SEC standings. With games against Mizzou and at Alabama this week, they’ll have a chance to bounce back.
2. Kentucky (18-5, 8-2, LW: 3)
When Immanuel Quickley gets into the lane, you can pretty much forget about stopping him. The sophomore guard is incredible when it comes to making floaters after driving into the middle of the defense.
Here’s a look at 2 floaters he made during the 77-64 win over Tennessee on Saturday:
Big time floating and-1 by Immanuel Quickley. pic.twitter.com/IeS1wMfAOF
— Not Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton2) February 8, 2020
Immanuel Quickley now shooting 99.5% on runners in the lane. pic.twitter.com/aeceqzLm1u
— Not Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton2) February 8, 2020
He finished with a team-high 18 points in that win. Now, he’ll need to continue that stellar play as the Wildcats travel to Vanderbilt on Tuesday and host Ole Miss on Saturday.
1. Auburn (21-2, 8-2, LW: 2)
The past 2 Saturdays have been good to the Tigers, as they’ve beaten Kentucky and LSU at Auburn Arena. This past Saturday’s game against LSU was an exciting one, as Auburn needed a second-half comeback in order to win in overtime.
The Tigers were incredible from long range, hitting 18 of their 44 three-point attempts. Devan Cambridge went 7-for-10 from beyond the arc. Here’s a look at his shot chart:
Devan Cambridge swears he's me with this shot chart pic.twitter.com/5wQyNbelFh
— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) February 8, 2020
Then, there were the late heroics from J’Von McCormick, who hit this runner for the victory in overtime:
There’s a three-way tie atop the SEC standings, but Auburn holds the tiebreaker over both Kentucky and LSU at the moment. Auburn will host rival Alabama on Wednesday before traveling to Mizzou on Saturday in a pair of winnable games. We’ll see if the Tigers can stay atop the standings.