SEC Basketball Power Rankings: Auburn suffers first SEC loss, Tennessee on the rise and Texas A&M’s slide continues
The SEC season is quickly winding down. We only have 3 weeks left (6 games for most schools) before the SEC Tournament begins in Tampa.
For teams that need to bolster their NCAA Tournament resumes, time is running out quickly. Meanwhile, Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas are looking like the 4 teams that will receive double-byes in the SEC Tournament.
This past week, there were some great games and surprising results. So, let’s take a look at how that action impacted our weekly SEC hoops power rankings:
14. Georgia (6-19 overall, 1-11 in SEC, Last week: 14)
The only question left for Tom Crean’s squad the rest of the season is whether or not it’ll win another SEC game. The upset of Alabama a couple of weeks ago looks crazier every time this team steps foot on the floor. This past week, the Dawgs dropped games to Florida and South Carolina.
They’ll have a good chance to win on Saturday, when Ole Miss pays a visit to Athens. Before that, the Dawgs head to LSU for a Wednesday night showdown.
13. Ole Miss (12-13, 3-9, LW: 13)
The Rebels’ slide continued this past week, as they dropped a home game to Alabama and then lost on Saturday night at Mizzou. Ole Miss went 0-2 against Mizzou this year, which is not a good sign for Kermit Davis’s squad.
The Rebels have now lost 3 in a row. If the streak continues against South Carolina on Tuesday night and at Georgia on Saturday, it’ll be time to have a discussion about whether Davis should be on the hot seat or not.
12. Texas A&M (15-10, 4-8, LW: 11)
Yikes. The Aggies have absolutely cratered over the past month. Since starting the year with a 15-2 record and a 4-0 mark in SEC play, the Aggies have now lost 8 games in a row. Last week, they dropped a home game against LSU and then got blown out by Auburn. Once considered a potential NCAA Tournament-caliber team, the Aggies might now need to win their last 6 games to even be in consideration on Selection Sunday. This week, A&M hosts Florida on Tuesday night and travels to Vanderbilt on Saturday evening. It’s safe to say those are both must-win games at this point.
11. South Carolina (14-10, 5-7, LW: 12)
Winning on the road in SEC play, even at Georgia, isn’t easy, so the Gamecocks deserve a lot of credit for their 80-68 win in Athens on Saturday. Now, we’ll see if this team can keep some positive momentum going. Keyshawn Bryant scored 22 points against the Dawgs. If he can keep playing like that, the Gamecocks can win at Ole Miss on Tuesday night and at home against LSU on Saturday afternoon.
10. Vanderbilt (13-11, 5-7, LW: 10)
The Commodores are having a solid year, compared to the last few in Nashville. Five SEC wins is more than Vanderbilt has had since the 2017-18 season, when it had 6 conference victories. The Commodores could theoretically finish with a .500 record in league play this year, though they’ll probably drop to 5-8 after Wednesday night’s trip to Auburn. On Saturday, though, Vandy hosts a reeling Texas A&M squad. That’s a great opportunity to pick up SEC win No. 6.
9. Mizzou (10-14, 4-7, LW: 9)
The Tigers absolutely had Ole Miss’s number this year. After a midweek loss at Vanderbilt, Mizzou bounced back with a 74-68 win over the Rebels on Saturday night. Javon Pickett is back, and he’s playing some great basketball, leading the Tigers in scoring in both games last week. He and Kobe Brown are the leaders of this team, and when they play well, the Tigers win more games.
It’s going to be a tough week for the Tigers, though. On Tuesday, the Tigers take on rival Arkansas in Columbia. On Friday, they head to Mississippi State. Then, on Sunday, the Bulldogs make a return trip to Columbia. That hectic schedule is due to a COVID cancellation earlier in the season.
8. Mississippi State (14-10, 5-6, LW: 7)
The Bulldogs are trending down at exactly the wrong time. Once on the NCAA Tournament bubble, last week’s losses vs. Tennessee and at LSU both really hurt. Mississippi State now probably needs to win 6 of its last 7 games to get back on the right side of the bubble.
This week, the Bulldogs head to Alabama on Wednesday night, host Mizzou on Friday and then head to Columbia to take on the Tigers on Sunday. It won’t be easy to go 3-0 there, but that might be what needs to happen if Mississippi State wants to avoid the NIT.
7. Florida (16-9, 6-6, LW: 5)
The Gators are the definition of a bubble team this year. They’re good, but not great, and that 16-9 record doesn’t have a ton of quality wins on it. In fact, the Gators are only 1-6 against Quad 1 opponents. You’d better believe that’s a stat the NCAA Tournament selection committee will scrutinize closely at the end of the year. The Gators head to Texas A&M on Tuesday night before hosting No. 2 Auburn on Saturday afternoon. There are plenty of potential quality wins out there for Mike White’s squad. We’ll see if they can take advantage.
6. LSU (18-7, 6-6, LW: 8)
Tari Eason is playing like a superstar lately. He’s putting up SEC Player of the Year-caliber numbers, as evidenced by this tweet:
Tari Eason last 8 games:
50.0% (2.3 3PA)
75.0 FT% (7.5 FTA)
— Francesco Semprucci (@fra_sempru) February 14, 2022
He’s also a great dunker:
THE DAGGER… WINDMILL STYLE. pic.twitter.com/90OCLQnGr3
— LSU Basketball (@LSUBasketball) February 13, 2022
ALL GAS, NO BREAKS.
TARI EASON. pic.twitter.com/Ct3fb1xRYp
— LSU Basketball (@LSUBasketball) February 13, 2022
Eason put up a 25-point, 12-rebound double-double in Tuesday’s win at Texas A&M. He followed it up with a 23-point game on Saturday in a win over Mississippi State.
Those were 2 much-needed wins for the Tigers. We’ll see if they can keep looking like they did earlier in the year when they host Georgia on Wednesday night and play at South Carolina on Saturday afternoon.
5. Alabama (16-9, 6-6, LW: 6)
Alabama’s win over red-hot Arkansas on Saturday afternoon was one of the stranger games of the year. Alabama’s leading scorer in the 68-67 victory was freshman JD Davison, but he only had 11 points. Jaden Shackelford was second with 10 points. The Tide also only made 24% of their 3-point attempts. They were also out-rebounded by the Hogs, turned it over more times and committed more fouls.
But, it was an incredibly balanced effort offensively, with 10 different players scoring points. Noah Gurley scored 9 points, but he had Alabama’s last 4 points in the victory:
— Alabama Men’s Basketball (@AlabamaMBB) February 12, 2022
The Tide have beaten 3 of last year’s Final Four teams. Now, they can add a win over a team that made it to the Elite Eight last year to their resume.
This week, Alabama hosts Mississippi State on Wednesday night. On Saturday, the Tide head to Lexington to take on an elite Kentucky squad.
4. Arkansas (19-6, 8-4, LW: 3)
The Hogs had a letdown game at Alabama on Saturday afternoon. After the thrill of taking down No. 1 Auburn earlier in the week, the Hogs just didn’t have enough left in the tank to extend their winning streak to 10 games. Alabama made sure not to let JD Notae dominate the game, holding him to only 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting.
But, this is still a great team. Expect the Hogs to get back on track when they head to Mizzou on Tuesday. Then, a big game looms large against Tennessee on Saturday afternoon.
3. Tennessee (18-6, 9-3, LW: 4)
Speaking of the Vols, this team has really kicked it into high gear lately. They’ve won 4 games in a row and are riding a 7-game SEC winning streak. Zakai Zeigler has a lot to do with that, having become a key member of the team. In Saturday’s win over Vanderbilt, Zeigler led the Vols with 16 points. He made 3 of his 5 3-point attempts:
— Caleb (@VolsAndDraft) February 13, 2022
But, the best part of his game is the energy he plays with on both ends of the floor. Here he is ripping the ball away from a Vandy player and starting a fast break that leads to a quick bucket by Kennedy Chandler:
— Caleb (@VolsAndDraft) February 13, 2022
The Vols are firing on all cylinders right now, which is good timing. The Vols host No. 4 Kentucky on Tuesday night and then head to Fayetteville on Saturday afternoon to face No. 23 Arkansas. Those are 2 great opportunities to pick up ranked wins and move up in the NCAA Tournament seeding.
2. Kentucky (21-4, 10-2, LW: 2)
Kentucky now has the SEC’s longest winning streak, having won 6 games in a row. In a 78-57 home win over Florida on Saturday, Oscar Tshiebwe continued his magnificent season, posting 27 points and 19 rebounds. Here are his numbers this year:
Oscar Tshiebwe in 25 games at Kentucky
— Cats Coverage (@Cats_Coverage) February 13, 2022
That rebounding total leads the nation by a large margin:
Oscar Tshiebwe has grabbed 382 rebounds this season. Want to know the difference between him and the guy in second place? 67.
Top-five leading rebounders in CBB:
1. Oscar Tshiebwe: 382
2. Fardaws Aimaq: 315
3. Armando Bacot: 306
4. Norchad Omier: 275
5. Kofi Cockburn: 216
— Tres Terrell (@TerrellTres) February 14, 2022
He’s also posting record-breaking 20-point, 15-rebound games:
The only SEC player over the last 25 seasons with five 20/15 games in a season:
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) February 12, 2022
He has to be the frontrunner for SEC Player of the Year right now. And, he’s even in the mix for National Player of the Year, if he’s not the frontrunner there, as well. What a special year for the big man who is very easy to root for.
Kentucky heads to Rocky Top to take on No. 16 Tennessee on Tuesday night. On Saturday afternoon, the No. 25 Alabama Crimson Tide head to Rupp Arena. This will be a big week for John Calipari’s crew!
1. Auburn (23-2, 11-1, LW: 1)
Earlier this month, Wendell Green Jr. and Devan Cambridge combined for this incredible alley-oop:
Devan Cambridge dunk from Wendell Green Jr.
— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) February 5, 2022
On Saturday, in Auburn’s bounce-back win over Texas A&M (after a midweek loss at Arkansas), Green and Cambridge were at it again. This lob from Green was from well beyond the 3-point arc:
— Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) February 12, 2022
That’s incredible confidence from Green to make that pass. Clearly, he and Cambridge are on the same page, because he was going for the oop all the way. Green and Cambridge also connected on this massive transition dunk:
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) February 12, 2022
Auburn fell to No. 2 in the nation after the loss to Arkansas, but there’s plenty of time to start a new winning streak. The Tigers will try to extend the new streak to 3 in a row with games against Vanderbilt on Wednesday and at Florida on Saturday.