Kentucky shocks Tennessee, Alabama and Texas A&M Roll

Since I didn’t compile my SEC Men’s Basketball Power Rankings for the site last week due to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, there are some major changes this week.

Texas A&M has been red hot for the last 2 weeks. Florida turned things around. LSU and Arkansas are going through tough times. Tennessee lost to Kentucky.

However, there is one constant presence – Alabama. The Crimson Tide continues to dominate.

Where do the 14 SEC men’s basket teams stand this week? Here are my updated performance rankings:

14. Ole Miss (8-9 overall, 0-5 in SEC game, last week: 12)

The rebels were terrible this year. They are 12th in the SEC in points per game, 11th in field goal percentage, 14th in 3-point percentage, 13th in 3-points made, and 10th in free throw percentage. That’s awful. Kermit Davis’ seat is red hot right now. The rebels set off this week. On Tuesday night, they visit South Carolina in a battle for last place in this power rankings. We’ll see if Ole Miss can get his first SEC win of the year in this game.

13. South Carolina (8: 9, 1: 3, LW: 13)

It’s increasingly looking like the Gamecocks’ win in Kentucky was a total fluke. It was a nice coincidence, a fun coincidence for the fans, but a coincidence nonetheless. Saturdays have not been good for the Gamecocks, who have now lost to Tennessee (85-42) and Texas A&M (94-53) by 84 points over the past two Saturdays. The Gamecocks host Auburn next Saturday. Can the Tigers win with 40+ points?

12. State of Mississippi (12-5, 1-4, LF: 7)

The Bulldogs went 0-18 from 3-point range against Auburn in a 69-63 loss on Saturday. Let that sink in – 0 against 18. On a 6 point loss. If they had made even 2 of their 18 distance attempts, they would have gone into overtime. Unfortunately, it’s increasingly looking like Mississippi State’s hot start to non-conference play was a bit of a fluke. This team has some big offensive mistakes.

11. Arkansas (12-5, 1-4, LF: 5)

Arkansas’ defeat at Vanderbilt on Saturday afternoon was a terrifying sight for Eric Musselman’s side. Hogs just let their emotions get the best of them. Then in the second half they gave up 63 points and scored only 42 of their own. This allowed the Commodores to come back from an 8-point deficit at halftime and win 97-84. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not banning Arkansas from going on a late-season run. The Hogs struggled early in SEC play last year and made the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. But things need to move in a positive direction soon.

10. Vanderbilt (9-8, 2-2, LT: 14)

After Vanderbilt’s in-game struggles outside of the conference, I didn’t think the Commodores had what it took to compete in the SEC. But a 3-point loss at Mizzou seems to have turned things around for Jerry Stackhouse and co. Now they compete in every game. Now they have a toughness about them that makes them scary to play. They’ll host Alabama in an extremely difficult match on Tuesday night, but a Saturday trip to Georgia should be another game where the Commodores are competitive late in the second half.

9. LSU (12-5, 1-4, LW: 3)

As of today, LSU’s 4 SEC game losses are against teams ahead of it on this power rankings list – Alabama, Texas A&M, Kentucky and Florida. If the Tigers can’t pull off an upset this week, however, they’ll be staring at a 1-6 start to conference action. LSU hosts No. 16 Auburn on Wednesday night and heads to Rocky Top on Saturday to play No. 9 Tennessee. This is a brutal track.

8. Kentucky (11-6, 2-3, LF: 10)

Kentucky seems to have found its optimal lineup. Even as Cason Wallace in No. 5 Tennessee was fighting cramps, Wallace, Antonio Reeves, CJ Fredrick, Jacob Toppin and Oscar Tshiebwe proved they were the best lineup for the Wildcats. Unfortunately, coach John Calipari couldn’t even commit to playing these 5 together more often without hedging his comments:

Sahvir Wheeler, who missed Saturday’s game through injury, is a strong player, but Wallace’s size and ability to create in lane (as well as create shots for himself) should put him ahead of veteran Wheeler in the lineup at crucial time to have. It doesn’t bode well for the Wildcats that Calipari can’t even commit to playing together more often in the team’s top lineup without saying “Yes, but…”. Stay tuned for more drama in Lexington!

7. Mizzou (13-4, 2-3, LT: 4)

It’s too early to panic about the Tigers, but the road problems are real. Mizzou is 2-0 in the SEC game in Columbia. The Tigers are 0-3 in conference road games. One of those road losses occurred at rival Arkansas in Fayetteville. However, Mizzou was in that game late into the second half. The Hogs are coming to CoMo on Wednesday nights. A win in this matchup will go a long way in getting the Tigers back on track before an elite squad from Alabama visits Saturday night.

6. Georgia (13:4, 3:1, LW: 8)

Mike White should draw more attention as a potential contender for SEC Coach of the Year. The turnaround from the Bulldogs this year was nothing short of incredible. Last year, the Dawgs couldn’t have beaten Mississippi State in Athens or even beat a bad Ole Miss team at Oxford. A real test, however, comes Tuesday night when the Bulldogs travel to Lexington to play Kentucky. This is quite an interesting game this season!

5. Florida (10-7, 3-2, LW: 11)

The Gators are on a 3-game win streak in SEC play, and based on their start this year (and SEC action), it’s been impressive to watch. Colin Castleton finally has some help on offense. During the 3 game winning streak, 3 different Gators (Kyle Lofton, Castleton and Will Richard) have led the team in points. That’s a good sign.

This week is going to be a rough one for Todd Golden and co. First, the Gators head to Texas A&M to take on a red-hot squad of Aggies. They then travel to Starkville to play against a struggling but still dangerous Mississippi State team. Those are games the current Florida team can handle, so I’m glad I didn’t sell all my Todd Golden stocks after the Gators’ rocky start!

4. Tennessee (14-3, 4-1, LW: 2)

I’ve been saying for a while that Tennessee’s lack of explosiveness on offense would eventually hurt him. That “sometime” was at home against a faltering Kentucky squad on Saturday. The Vols shot 3 of 21 (14.3%) from 3-point range and got a 43-23 rebound. You won’t win many games with these numbers. This is obviously still an elite team with incredible defense, so don’t hit the panic button just yet. But there are some big offensive mistakes that need to be fixed in the future.

3. Texas A&M (12-5, 4-0, LW: 9)

I’ll admit it – I wrote off the Aggies as dead heading into the SEC game. If you’re being honest with yourself, I’m guessing many of you have been too. Who knew a team with non-conference losses to Murray State, Colorado, Boise State, Memphis and Wofford would start the SEC game 4-0 with wins over Florida, LSU, South Carolina and Mizzou? Not me! But Buzz Williams has this team playing an exciting brand of basketball. The Aggies will host the improving Gators on Wednesday night and head to Kentucky on Saturday. It should be an interesting week for Texas A&M!

2. Maroon (14-3, 4-1, LW: 3)

Wendell Green Jr. plays incredible basketball during the SEC game for the Auburn Tigers. He scored 11 points in the final 2:15 of Saturday’s win over Mississippi State to thwart Auburn’s victory:

At his best, Auburn can beat almost anyone in the SEC. He draws so much attention from defense and can make plays in the colour. Trips to LSU and South Carolina appear manageable for the Tigers this week. If they can go 2-0 and Green continues to play well, it will keep the pressure on Alabama at the top of the SEC rankings. Speaking of the Crimson Tide…

1. Alabama (15-2, 5-0, LW: 1)

Alabama looks almost unstoppable in the first 5 SEC games of the year. On Saturday, the Tide absolutely dominated rivals LSU, beating the Tigers 106-66 in Tuscaloosa. Brandon Miller was a superstar once again, scoring 31 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. He also made 7 of his 11 3-pointers:

As good as Miller was, there are 2 numbers I want to highlight from the LSU beatdown – 8 turnovers and 20 offensive rebounds. If The Tide flips the ball less than 10 times, they can beat anyone in the country. Jaden Bradley, Jahvon Quinerly and Mark Sears have the ball a lot and they have combined 11 assists and 3 turnovers. That’s great.

Meanwhile, Noah Pringle had 7 rebounds, 6 of which came on the offensive glass. You can’t give the Tide multiple shots per possession and hope to stay within 10 points. Vanderbilt and Mizzou will have their hands full with Alabama this week.

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