SEC Basketball Power Rankings: Who the heck is No. 2? Can anyone win on the road?
We’re 2 weeks into SEC play, and so far, the conference action has not disappointed. Tennessee has continued to dominate, but the rest of the league is a mess.
Mississippi State and Auburn have both lost (with the Bulldogs sporting 2 SEC losses already), while, surprise, Ole Miss and South Carolina haven’t.
No one seems to want to be No. 2 at this point, but a Tuesday night showdown between LSU and Ole Miss in Oxford will be a big game to watch.
As we get more into the heart of conference play, here’s a look at how the 14 teams stack up right now:
1. Tennessee (14-1 overall, 3-0 in SEC, Last week: 1)
It wasn’t easy, but the Vols beat Mizzou and Florida on the road this week. Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield struggled against the Tigers, but bounced back in a big way against the Gators on Saturday.
Afterward, the Vols made sure to let Gators players and fans hear it, doing the Gator Chomp as they left the court:
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) January 13, 2019
This team is playing with a lot of confidence and has a ton of talent, and that’s bad news for Arkansas and Alabama, who both have to go to Knoxville this week.
2. LSU (12-3, 2-0, Last week: 5)
The Tigers are playing really well lately. Yes, they needed overtime to beat Arkansas, but winning on the road in conference play is never easy.
PG Tremont Waters is becoming must-see TV, and is out here making defenders look foolish on a nightly basis:
Better angle. Head and eyes sell the fake. pic.twitter.com/mQefbEFe2i
— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) January 9, 2019
"Watch your head."
Tremont ➡️ @Mar1on_
Big night for both of them 👊
Tre: 17 points, 11 assists
Marlon: 21 points, 7 boards (4 offensive) pic.twitter.com/21f62FNPjO
— LSU Basketball (@LSUBasketball) January 13, 2019
This team had some growing pains early in the season, but it’s not about how you start, only how you finish. The Tigers are fun to watch and might continue to improve as the season wears on.
3. Ole Miss (13-2, 3-0, Last week: 9)
The Rebels have officially won me over. This is an exciting team, and new coach Kermit Davis has them playing some inspired basketball.
Breein Tyree and Terence Davis are fun to watch on a nightly basis, and in a road win at Mississippi State on Saturday, freshman Blake Hinson stepped up and had 26 points to lead the Rebels to victory. Ole Miss hosts LSU on Tuesday night, so that’ll be interesting to watch, as the No. 2 spot in these power rankings is on the line.
4. Kentucky (12-3, 2-1, Last week: 6)
The Wildcats bounced back from a tough road loss to start SEC play by beating Texas A&M and Vanderbilt at home. Those are hardly quality wins, but they are big confidence boosters heading into a brutal stretch of games.
On Tuesday, the Wildcats travel to Georgia and then head to Auburn on Saturday. The following week, they play host to ranked Mississippi State and Kansas squads. The young players — Keldon Johnson and Ashton Hagans, in particular — will have to step up in a big way during this tough stretch.
5. Auburn (12-3, 1-1, Last week: 3)
The Tigers have been blown out by Ole Miss and have beaten up on Georgia. They should pick up a win at Texas A&M on Wednesday night, and then a Saturday showdown looms large against Kentucky.
Auburn was clearly caught off-guard by Ole Miss, but the Tigers can’t afford to make the same mistake at home on Saturday afternoon.
6. Alabama (10-5, 1-2, Last week: 4)
Losing to the Aggies at home is a really bad look for Avery Johnson’s program, but they can’t be punished too much for a road loss at LSU. A win over Kentucky earlier in SEC play is keeping them afloat, but the Crimson Tide need to bounce back with a game at Mizzou on Wednesday, because a trip to Tennessee looms large Saturday.
7. South Carolina (8-7, 3-0, Last week: 11)
The Gamecocks are playing some inspired basketball at the moment, and will have a chance to go to 4-0 in SEC play on Wednesday at Vanderbilt. Preseason All-SEC F Chris Silva is playing well, but the Gamecocks are getting contributions from other players as well.
In an overtime win against Mississippi State, Maik Kotsar led the way, scoring 25 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. Against Mizzou, Keyshawn Bryant had 15 points to Silva’s 14. This team is unselfish and has great on-court chemistry, so they’ll be dangerous moving forward.
8. Mississippi State (12-3, 0-2, Last week: 2)
What a disappointing start to SEC play for the Bulldogs. I thought they were for real this year after picking up some big nonconference wins, but have started SEC play with a loss at South Carolina and a home loss to Ole Miss.
There’s still plenty of time for Ben Howland to get things turned around, but this was the worst start imaginable for a team that had high hopes for the 2019 season. A home game against Florida and a road contest at Vanderbilt now loom as almost must-wins for the Bulldogs.
9. Arkansas (10-5, 1-2, Last week: 7)
The Razorbacks have lost back-to-back home games — one to Florida and the other to LSU. They’ve managed to stay close, but they aren’t getting the job done. Sophomores Mason Jones and Daniel Gafford continue to play well, but they need some more consistent help.
If this team misses the NCAA Tournament this year after starting 10-3, Mike Anderson might feel his seat start to heat up in a hurry.
10. Florida (9-6, 1-2, Last week: 10)
Credit to the Gators for at least putting up a fight against Tennessee, leading by three points at halftime. However, they couldn’t keep up the pace in the second half and ended up losing by 11 points.
This team has talent, but until it starts showing up in the win column, there’s not much to be excited about in Gainesville. Road trips to Georgia and Mississippi State will be big ones for Mike White’s team.
11. Mizzou (9-5, 0-2, Last week: 8)
Talented big man Jeremiah Tilmon can’t stay on the floor. His foul trouble has reached epic proportions and is really hurting the Tigers:
In the last three games, Jeremiah Tilmon has played 34 minutes, scored 11 points, gotten 3 rebounds, committed nine turnovers and 15 fouls. #Mizzou can’t beat anybody left on the schedule that way. And maybe there have been a couple bad calls..but they’re not all bad.
— Gabe DeArmond (@GabeDeArmond) January 13, 2019
Tilmon fouled out in 13 minutes in a loss at South Carolina on Sunday, and if he can’t find a way to avoid getting five fouls every game, the Tigers are going to continue struggling.
12. Georgia (9-6, 1-2, Last week: 13)
The Bulldogs are interesting, as they have been blown out by ranked Tennessee and Auburn teams, but also managed to beat Vanderbilt in blowout fashion. It’s tough to tell where this team ranks at the moment, but home games against Kentucky and Florida this week should help us get a better read on Tom Crean’s squad.
13. Texas A&M (7-7, 1-2, Last week: 14)
The Aggies climbed out of the cellar thanks to an exciting win at Alabama on Saturday. TJ Starks was phenomenal in the clutch, sinking this game-winning shot:
The Aggies break the Tide with this buzzer beater from Starks
— Barstool Texas A&M (@BarstoolTexasAM) January 12, 2019
That’s an impossible shot, but Starks made it look easy. If nothing else, Aggies fans should tune in to watch the talented sophomore play every game.
14. Vanderbilt (9-6, 0-3, Last week: 12)
The Commodores continue to compete, but can’t seem to get a win in conference play. At 0-3, this team is playing some ugly basketball. Saturday’s loss at Kentucky was the slowest-paced game since the 30-second shot clock was implemented:
At 56 possessions, Vanderbilt-Kentucky was the slowest-paced SEC game since the introduction of the 30-second shot clock before the 2015-16 season.
— John Gasaway (@JohnGasaway) January 13, 2019
Simi Shittu continues to look good, but the Commodores desperately miss PG Darius Garland and he isn’t going to be coming back any time soon, if ever.