SEC Basketball Power Rankings: Mizzou takes down Alabama, Tennessee wins in Rupp and Ole Miss shocks Auburn
This weekend’s slate of games took a hit, as Texas A&M and Florida are both dealing with COVID-19 issues and had to postpone Saturday’s matchups. They’ll also postpone their Tuesday games, leading to some schedule reshuffling from the SEC.
But there was still some exciting SEC action this past week, including Mizzou holding on in Columbia to hand Alabama its first SEC loss. Elsewhere, Ole Miss and Georgia are suddenly red hot, while Auburn and Kentucky are ice cold.
Let’s take a look at how last week’s games impacted our SEC men’s basketball power rankings:
14. Vanderbilt (5-9 overall, 1-7 in SEC, Last week: 13)
After picking up their first win of league play, the Commodores are back in the cellar. They had their Wednesday matchup against Texas A&M postponed, then lost a 3-point game at Georgia on Saturday, 73-70. This team is trending up under coach Jerry Stackhouse, but until it actually starts winning more of these games, it will remain in the cellar of these power rankings.
This week provides some intriguing opportunities to pull off upsets, though. The Commodores host struggling Auburn on Tuesday night and head to Mississippi State on Saturday.
13. Texas A&M (8-7, 2-6, LW: 12)
The Aggies didn’t play last week due to COVID-19 issues and won’t play during the middle of this week. Their next scheduled game is Saturday at Florida. We’ll see if Buzz Williams’ crew is able to go in that one (or if Florida will be ready).
12. South Carolina (5-7, 3-5, LW: 14)
These past 3 games have been South Carolina in a nutshell — lose at Vanderbilt, win at Florida, lose at home to Mississippi State. The Gamecocks can beat anyone in the SEC when they’re playing their best. They can also lose to anyone in the SEC when they’re not. Could they beat Alabama at home on Tuesday night? Sure. Could they also lose by 30? Yes. We’ll see which South Carolina team shows up this week.
11. Auburn (10-10, 4-7, LW: 7)
It was a rough week for the Tigers, who lost at home against Georgia and in overtime at Ole Miss on Saturday. The Ole Miss loss was particularly bad, as the Tigers were in control for most of the game, even holding a 13-point lead early in the second half.
At least Sharife Cooper continues to be must-see TV. He had 15 points and 14 assists against the Rebels. This full-court double-bounce pass was insane:
This is a legit through ball from Sharife Cooper pic.twitter.com/VtNaOB8cUH
— Eric Fawcett (@Efawcett7) February 6, 2021
As was this spinning, no-look find:
this find from Sharife is ridiculous pic.twitter.com/ZiPWoJZ1QU
— Drew (@orangeanddrew) February 6, 2021
We’ll see if this young team can get back on track this week at Vanderbilt on Tuesday night and at Kentucky on Saturday.
10. Kentucky (5-12, 4-6, LW: 9)
The Wildcats once again failed to hold on to a late lead against Tennessee on Saturday night. They led 64-62 with 7:22 left and then allowed the Vols to go on a 12-0 run. Things like that have killed this team all year.
Keion Brooks Jr. was solid, though. He finished with a 23-point, 11-rebound double-double. He was hitting jump shots:
Keion Brooks has career highs with 21 points and 10 rebounds tonight for a double-double. pic.twitter.com/X0HVCj2JTl
— Tyler Greever (@Tyler_Greever) February 7, 2021
And getting to the lane for easy dunks:
Keion Brooks (21 pts, 10 rebs) is going off for unranked #BBN (+3.5), and his team leads the No. 11 #Vols 58-48 with 11:57 to play!
Tennessee is +410 to win in live betting ?pic.twitter.com/JboSYeW7em
— TwinSpires Sportsbook ? (@TS_Sportsbook) February 7, 2021
But until this team is able to close out halves, it will struggle. We’ll see if the Wildcats can get back to .500 in SEC play this week with home games against Arkansas (Tuesday) and Auburn (Saturday).
9. Mississippi State (11-9, 5-6, LW: 8)
The Bulldogs bounced back on Saturday, beating South Carolina 75-59 in Columbia after an ugly midweek loss at Arkansas. In that 61-45 defeat, the Bulldogs committed 26 turnovers and shot 30.6% (15-of-49).
They’ll need to hope the 75-point performance carries over, as they face a pair of strong offensive teams this week, hosting LSU on Wednesday night and Vanderbilt on Saturday.
8. Ole Miss (10-8, 5-6, LW: 11)
The Rebels had an incredible week, stunning Tennessee 52-50 on Tuesday and following it up with a big overtime win at Auburn on Saturday. Devontae Shuler played the hero on Saturday, draining this really difficult shot at the buzzer in overtime:
AT THE BUZZER!#HottyToddy pic.twitter.com/7CTFBqXKru
— Ole Miss Men’s Basketball (@OleMissMBB) February 6, 2021
He finished with an impressive 26 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Big man Romello White deserves his fair share of praise, too. He had 30 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks.
Ole Miss hosts No. 10 Mizzou on Wednesday night in a game that suddenly looks a lot more interesting. Then, the Rebels will head to South Carolina on Saturday. We’ll see if they can keep up the strong play.
7. Georgia (12-6, 5-6, LW: 10)
The Bulldogs are red-hot, having won their last 3 games. No, Saturday’s 73-70 win over Vanderbilt wasn’t pretty, but they got the job done, and that’s what counts. Sahvir Wheeler had 16 points and 9 assists against the Commodores, out-dueling Vanderbilt’s Scotty Pippen Jr. to help the Dawgs win.
This week will show if the Bulldogs are for real, though, as they head to No. 16 Tennessee on Wednesday night and go to Tuscaloosa to take on No. 11 Alabama on Saturday. Those would be some serious resume-building wins for a team that is trying to claw its way back onto the NCAA Tournament bubble.
6. LSU (11-6, 6-4, LW: 5)
Unfortunately for the Tigers, they didn’t get a chance to try to stop their 2-game skid against Florida on Saturday, as the Gators are dealing with COVID-19 issues. They’ll get back on the court on Wednesday, though, traveling to Mississippi State in a very dangerous game before hosting Tennessee on Saturday.
Will Wade’s squad suddenly finds itself on the NCAA Tournament bubble. A loss at Mississippi State would be devastating for the Tigers’ tourney chances. Even going 1-1 this week wouldn’t be great. This team needs 2 big wins.
5. Arkansas (14-5, 6-4, LW: 6)
After a big win over Mississippi State earlier in the week, the Razorbacks had their Saturday matchup against Texas A&M postponed. This will be a big week for the Hogs, who need a big win for their NCAA Tournament résumé. On Tuesday, they’ll head to Lexington to take on Kentucky. Then, on Saturday, a road trip to No. 10 Mizzou awaits.
Arkansas will need coach Eric Musselman to deliver some more great motivational speeches like this:
On Tuesday night, @EricPMusselman dressed up as a UPS driver before the game to get @RazorbackMBB to deliver ??
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) February 4, 2021
4. Florida (10-5, 6-4, LW: 4)
After climbing to No. 22 in the rankings with a 4-game winning streak, the Gators lost against South Carolina inexplicably. Now, they’re dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak that forced Saturday’s game against LSU to be postponed. They won’t play in the middle of this week, so their next scheduled game is against Texas A&M on Saturday. The Gators need to win that one to stay firmly in the NCAA Tournament picture.
3. Tennessee (13-4, 6-4, LW: 3)
The Vols got off to a rough start last week, losing 52-50 at Ole Miss in one of the ugliest games of the SEC season. But on Saturday, they used a 34-13 second-half run to beat Kentucky 82-71 in Rupp Arena.
And, in even better news, both 5-star freshmen — Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson — had their best games at Tennessee. Johnson scored a game-high 27 points and Springer added 23. They’re all over this highlight reel:
? Keon Johnson: 27 Pts
? Jaden Springer: 23 Pts@Vol_Hoops went on a 34-13 run to complete the comeback in Rupp ? pic.twitter.com/kVNvm6llXa
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) February 7, 2021
This is what fans were hoping to see more of this year. If Johnson and Springer can continue to play like NBA Draft lottery picks on a consistent basis, the Vols can make a postseason run. This week, though, they’ll just have to get by red-hot Georgia on Wednesday night and LSU on Saturday.
2. Mizzou (13-3, 6-3, LW: 2)
The Tigers started out hot against Alabama on Saturday, taking a 38-24 lead into halftime. But in the second half, the Tide clawed their way back into the game, almost completing the comeback before the Tigers held on for a thrilling 68-65 win. Of course, there was some controversy late, as many thought Dru Smith fouled Herb Jones on a shot that was blocked by Mitchell Smith:
Was it a foul? Yeah, probably. Did the refs miss some other calls earlier in the game that would have benefited Mizzou? Also yes.
Either way, what’s done is done and the Tigers handed Alabama its first SEC loss of the season. Mizzou went only 3-for-20 from 3-point range, so that will need to improve moving forward. But for now, the Tigers are only 2 games behind Alabama in the SEC standings.
We’ll see if the positive momentum continues this week, when the Tigers head to Ole Miss on Wednesday and host Arkansas on Saturday.
1. Alabama (15-5, 10-1, LW: 1)
Alabama’s offense continued to struggle on Saturday at Mizzou. Freshman Josh Primo played 28 minutes, scored 0 points and didn’t even attempt a shot. James Rojas played 13 minutes, scored 2 points and went 0-for-3 from 3-point range. That’s too many 3s for him to be attempting. Herb Jones, who is battling through a back injury, scored only 7 points to go with 5 rebounds and 1 assist.
Yes, Mizzou’s defense deserves a lot of credit for slowing down the Tide, but it’s also obvious this team has hit a cold patch.
John Petty Jr. went 3-for-6 from 3-point range, but missed some open looks like this one:
Mentioned on the podcast that Alabama got a lot of good looks that they just didn't make. Here's a good example: JQ doing what he often does, refusing the ball screen when Mizzou attempts to ice the ball screen. He draws three defenders, finds Petty for a corner three. Good look. pic.twitter.com/6GWGovwmOa
— Bama Basketball Film Room (@BamaFilmRoom) February 8, 2021
And, though the Tide only allowed 68 points, the defense wasn’t as strong as it normally is:
Probably the most disappointing part of Saturday's loss was UA's transition defense. Petty and Primo both get beat back. Petty needs to turn and run to the rim instead of backpedaling. pic.twitter.com/rLziniHsaY
— Bama Basketball Film Room (@BamaFilmRoom) February 8, 2021
The Tide deserve a lot of praise for making it a game after trailing by 21 points with 10:28 left in the second half, but until this offense can get back into the 80-point range consistently, the Tide are going to struggle.
We’ll see if they can snap out of their mini-funk this week as they head to South Carolina on Tuesday and host Georgia on Saturday.