SEC Basketball Power Rankings: Kentucky picks up huge win, Florida plummets
The first week of the college basketball season was a fun one across the country, and there were some notable results in the SEC.
Kentucky looks great. Florida … not so much. Auburn is finding a new groove after last year’s Final Four run, and some other teams around the conference have impressed.
So, how does each team stack up as we head into the second week of the 2019-20 campaign? Here’s a look at our updated SEC power rankings:
14. Vanderbilt (2-0, Last week: 14)
The Commodores are 2-0, yes, but it’s an ugly 2-0. On Monday night, they had to hold on down the stretch to earn a 71-66 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. After an 83-65 win over Southeast Missouri State to start the season, this team has a long way to go under first-year coach Jerry Stackhouse.
Vanderbilt won’t play a major-conference team until SEC play starts, though, so we’ll see how much this squad grows in that time. If it doesn’t improve, another 0-18 conference campaign isn’t out of the question.
13. Texas A&M (2-0, LW: 13)
Like Vanderbilt, the Aggies are a soft 2-0, struggling against Northwestern State and Louisiana-Monroe in Buzz Williams’ first 2 games at the helm.
The Aggies will host No. 8 Gonzaga on Friday night in a game that could quickly get ugly for the home team.
12. Alabama (1-1, LW: 9)
A loss to Penn put a damper on Nate Oats’ first game, but there’s still plenty of reason for optimism in Tuscaloosa. The style of play was exciting to watch, even with the loss.
Seeing PG Kira Lewis Jr. go for 30 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists was a great sign. No wonder he decided to pull his name from the transfer portal after speaking with Oats. Now, it’ll just be about putting together some wins.
They did that on Monday night, routing Florida Atlantic, but tougher challenges await moving forward.
11. Ole Miss (1-0, LW: 12)
Star PG Breein Tyree only scored 6 points in the Rebels’ 71-43 season-opening win over Arkansas State, but he’ll have better games coming. Fellow G Devontae Shuler carried the offensive load, pouring in 20 points.
This week, the Rebels will play Norfolk State and Western Michigan as they prepare for a Nov. 23 showdown at No. 13 Memphis. That should be a fun game if Ole Miss can improve over these next 3 games.
10. Arkansas (1-0, LW: 11)
The Razorbacks looked strong against Rice in the opener, blowing out the Owls 91-43. Yes, it was only Rice, but the backcourt tandem of Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe looked great, combining for 56 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and 5 steals. Not bad for a night of work.
That duo will need to carry the Hogs this season, and for now, they look up to the challenge. This week, Arkansas hosts North Texas (Tuesday) and Montana (Saturday).
9. Mizzou (2-0, LW: 10)
No, we haven’t learned much about the Tigers from big wins over Incarnate Word and Northern Kentucky. Jeremiah Tilmon looks like a force on the inside (as long as he can stay out of foul trouble) and Xavier Pinson looks solid.
Speaking of Xavier, the Tigers travel to take on No. 21 Xavier on Tuesday night. Are they ready for a huge nonconference road test? We’ll find out this week.
8. Georgia (1-0, LW: 8)
So far, so good for talented freshman Anthony Edwards. In a big win over Western Carolina on opening night, Edwards had 24 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals.
This week, we’ll get to see the Dawgs in another couple of tuneup games — vs. The Citadel on Tuesday and vs. Delaware State on Friday. Edwards will continue to get his legs under him ahead of a Nov. 20 meeting with rival Georgia Tech.
7. South Carolina (2-0, LW: 7)
The Gamecocks have been impressive on defense in the early going, holding Wyoming to 9-of-39 shooting over the weekend. South Carolina cruised to a dominant 66-32 victory. A.J. Lawson and Justin Minaya are doing a good job leading this tough squad.
Like some other SEC teams, there aren’t a lot of big-name November nonconference games on the Gamecocks’ schedule. They’ll take a trip to Cancun for the Cancun Challenge and play Wichita State, with a potential matchup against West Virginia in the title game of that tourney. Things will pick up in December, though, so we’ll see what Frank Martin’s team looks like by then.
6. Florida (1-1, LW: 1)
OK, so maybe I was a bit mistaken when I had the Gators at No. 1 last week. This is still a young team, and even though Virginia Tech transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. has 2 double-doubles in 2 games, this team has a long way to go.
Yes, there is still plenty of talent, and yes, this team will likely be back in the top 3 in these rankings before all is said and done. Still, when you lose in blowout fashion to an unranked rival on your home court, you’re going to fall quite a bit in the power rankings.
5. Mississippi State (2-0, LW: 6)
Talented big man Reggie Perry has been solid through 2 games, but the real breakout star on this team in the early going has been senior G Tyson Carter. In the opener against FIU, Carter had 23 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 6 steals. In the second game against Sam Houston State, he had 28 points and 6 assists.
No, that’s not exactly the best competition, but the Bulldogs only play 1 Power 5 team before SEC play starts — a Dec. 14 game against Kansas State in Newark. That’s plenty of time for this team to figure out life without Lamar Peters and Quinndary Weatherspoon. They’ll also need to work Nick Weatherspoon back into the rotation once he finishes his 10-game suspension.
4. Tennessee (1-0, LW: 3)
The Vols are going to have some growing pains early on as they attempt to replace Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield, Jordan Bone and Kyle Alexander in the starting lineup. However, in their opening win over UNC Asheville, Lamonte Turner played well, scoring 17 points and dishing out 6 assists.
We’ll learn more about the Vols’ rotation plans and who is going to earn starting spots this week, as they host Murray State before heading to Toronto for a big game against No. 20 Washington.
3. LSU (1-0, LW: 4)
It’s tough to know what to make of this LSU team, but that will change on Wednesday night, when Will Wade’s team faces his old team, VCU. That will be a tough road game and a good early test for the Tigers.
In the opener against Bowling Green, G Javonte Smart dominated, scoring 21 points, grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing out 5 assists. F Emmitt Williams also had 21 points and 7 boards.
This team is still very athletic, so they’ll be a tough out for anyone. There’s some exciting basketball coming up for LSU.
2. Auburn (2-0, LW: 5)
Auburn had 5 players score at least 10 points in a win over Davidson in the Veterans Classic. No, this team doesn’t have the firepower it did last year with Chuma Okeke, Jared Harper and Bryce Brown, but there’s still a lot of talent on Bruce Pearl’s roster.
The Tigers could potentially face Wisconsin on Nov. 26 in Brooklyn as part of the Legends Classic, but outside of that, there’s not a lot of meat on the nonconference schedule. We might not know too much more about Auburn until SEC action starts.
1. Kentucky (2-0, Last week: 2)
When you pick up a win over the No. 1 team in the country to start the season, you deserve to be No. 1 in these rankings. Freshman Tyrese Maxey was incredible against Michigan State, recording 26 points and 5 rebounds.
Then, in a rout against Eastern Kentucky, it was time for big man Nick Richards to show how much he’s progressed this offseason. He had 21 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks in a 91-49 win. Add in Ashton Hagans continuing to run the show and this team is deep and athletic and can beat you in a number of different ways.
The Wildcats now have some easier games before they’re tested again in late-December, when they’ll face Utah, Ohio State and Louisville.