We’ve made it through another week in SEC hoops! The league did pretty well in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge winning 4 of 10 games despite having 3 of the 4 teams not participating ranked and the fact they were favored in 2 of those games (won by Tennessee and Kentucky). Auburn will return to the SEC/Big 12 Challenge next year and I can’t to see who Auburn will draw next season (Texas Tech owes us a home game). That aside, it’s time to rank the teams once again and feel free to share your thoughts below!
#1 Tennessee: 18-1 (6-0) - Last Week’s Ranking: 1
Last Week: Beat Vanderbilt 88-83 (OT), Beat West Virginia 83-66
This Week: Tonight at South Carolina, Saturday at Texas A&M
The Vols got 43 from Grant Williams and needed every point as they survived Memorial Gymnasium on Wednesday. Then started slow against the Mountaineers before getting back to playing Tennessee Basketball over the last 25 minutes of that game. Vols hit the road for a pair of games this week.
#2 Kentucky: 15-3 (5-1) - Last Week’s Ranking: 2
Last Week: Beat #22 Mississippi State 71-55, Beat #9 Kansas 71-63
This Week: Tonight at Vanderbilt, Saturday at Florida
Kentucky has knocked off 3 consecutive Top 25 teams in a week’s time. That’s extremely impressive. Reid Travis is playing the way people expected him to and that adds another dimension to this Cats team that’s on a roll right now. They play in a building that’s given them some trouble over the years tonight before renewing their rivalry with the Gators on Saturday.
#3 LSU: 16-3 (6-0) - Last Week’s Ranking: 3
Last Week: Beat Georgia 92-82, Beat Missouri 86-80 (OT)
This Week: Wednesday at Texas A&M, Saturday vs. Arkansas
Speaking of extremely impressive, LSU was down 14 at Missouri with 2 minutes left. The Bayou Bengals battled back, forced overtime and won it on the road at Missouri. These Tigers have established themselves along with Tennessee and Kentucky as the best 3 teams the SEC has to offer in the moment and should be able to take care of business this week.
#4 Mississippi State: 15-4 (3-3) - Last Week’s Ranking: 6
Last Week: Lost to #8 Kentucky 76-55, Beat #16 Auburn 92-84
This Week: Tonight at Alabama, Saturday at Ole Miss
It’s hard for me to move a team up 2 spots despite losing by 21 points during the week. But after Ole Miss and Auburn both lost twice in the past this week, the Bulldogs picked up their best win of the season so far against Auburn on Saturday. Mississippi State went 13-30 from 3-point range Saturday after going 3-20 against Kentucky. The win over Auburn is the Bulldogs 4th Top 50 win this season.
#5 Ole Miss: 14-5 (4-2) - Last Week’s Ranking: 5
Last Week: Lost to Alabama 74-53, Lost to #24 Iowa State 87-73
This Week: Wednesday at Florida, Saturday vs. #22 Mississippi State
Like Auburn, the Rebels fell in both contests last week resulting in them falling out of the Top 25. Ole Miss looks to be coming back to earth after a hot start, losers of 3 of their last 4 games. It doesn’t get any easier this week with a tricky trip to Gainesville before Mississippi State looks for revenge after the Rebels took the season’s first game in Starkville.
#6 South Carolina - 10-9 (5-1) - Last Week’s Ranking: 8
Last Week: Beat #16 Auburn 80-77, Lost to Oklahoma State 74-70
This Week: Tonight vs. #1 Tennessee, Saturday at Georgia
Based on South Carolina’s win Tuesday over Auburn and the fact that the Gamecocks are playing better than Auburn right now, I’m giving the Roosters the nod over Auburn this week. South Carolina seems to have Auburn’s number in Columbia. A narrow 4-point loss against Oklahoma State isn’t the best result but considering where this team was 4 weeks ago, they’ve made quite the progress.
#7 Auburn: 13-6 (2-4) - Last Week’s Ranking: 4
Last Week: Lost to South Carolina 80-77, Lost to #22 Mississippi State 92-84
This Week: Wednesday vs. Missouri, Saturday vs. Alabama
Contrary to popular belief, the sky isn’t falling for the Tigers. Yes, we’ve lost 3 games in a row and all 3 have been frustrating in their own way. South Carolina took advantage of Auburn’s frontcourt and Chris Silva had a monster night. And yet, Auburn had a chance to win that game at the end. Saturday night was also a winnable game, especially when Auburn took a 7 point lead in the second half. But turnovers really did Auburn in Saturday including an uncharacteristic 6 turnovers from Jared Harper. The 3-point defense wasn’t good in the first half and then the Bulldogs took over in the paint in the second half. The defense has to get better going forward, especially from 3-point range. They also have to do a better job of not digging themselves into a hole (double-digit deficits). We saw Chuma Okeke show flashes of his potential this week scoring 13 and 16 points respectively and he has to become assertive on the offensive end for Auburn to progress as the season moves along.
Looking ahead, Auburn has 3 straight home games and 5 of their next 7 games are at Auburn Arena. Yes, the dream of repeating in the SEC is for all intents and purposes gone but this team needs to playing their best ball in March. It’s January 29th so there’s definitely time to right this ship. And if you’re worried about potential seeding in the NCAA Tournament for Auburn: I present this nugget to you.
Regarding Auburn's potential seed in the NCAA Tournament here's something to consider: Auburn has made 4 Sweet 16s all-time. Other than 98-99 when Auburn was a 1 seed, the seeds Auburn were the other 3 times: 11, 8 and 10. Lot of basketball left to be played. War Eagle!— Will McLaughlin (@ShootyHoopsWill) January 27, 2019
There’s a lot of basketball to be played still and I think Auburn has a run in them as we get towards the end of the season.
#8 Alabama: 12-7 (3-3) - Last Week’s Ranking: 7
Last Week: Beat #20 Ole Miss 74-53, Lost to Baylor 73-68
This Week: Tonight vs. #22 Mississippi State, Saturday at Auburn
Alabama played one of their better games of the year on Tuesday night against Ole Miss, holding the Rebels to just 53 points. But they couldn’t close the deal in Waco and have another big home game against a team from Mississippi tonight before coming here this weekend.
#9 Florida: 11-8 (3-3) - Last Week’s Ranking: 9
Last Week: Beat Texas A&M 81-72, Lost to TCU 55-50
This Week: Wednesday vs. Ole Miss, Saturday vs. #7 Kentucky
I still can’t figure this Gators team out. They continue to play solid defense but for the life of them, they simply can’t score. The Gators need a signature win and their best chance for one comes Saturday at home against Kentucky.
#10 Georgia: 10-9 (1-5) - Last Week’s Ranking: 11
Last Week: Lost to #25 LSU 92-82, Beat Texas 98-88
This Week: Tonight at Arkansas, Saturday vs. South Carolina
Georgia came into Saturday’s game averaging 74 points a game this year. Texas came in giving up about 64 points a game this year. So naturally, Georgia scored 98 on Saturday while Tom Crean wore a track suit on the sidelines for reasons unknown..
#11 Arkansas: 11-8 (2-4) - Last Week’s Ranking: 12
Last Week: Beat Missouri 72-60, Lost to #14 Texas Tech 67-64
This Week: Tonight vs. Georgia, Saturday at #19 LSU
The Hogs were another team that surprised in non-conference play that have come back to earth in league play. However, this past week, they knocked off Mizzou before a valiant effort at Texas Tech over the weekend. Tonight’s a winnable game before a tough task in Baton Rouge this weekend.
#12 Missouri: 10-8 (1-5) - Last Week’s Ranking: 10
Last Week: Lost to Arkansas 72-60, Lost to LSU 86-80 (OT)
This Week: Wednesday at Auburn, Saturday vs. Vanderbilt
Missouri had a golden opportunity to pick up a signature win on Saturday and couldn’t hold a 14 point lead against LSU. Now they come here tomorrow to play an Auburn team desperate for a win. We’ll have more on Mizzou later today and tomorrow.
#13 Texas A&M: 8-10 (1-5) - Last Week’s Ranking: 14
Last Week: Lost to Florida 81-72, Beat Kansas State 65-53
This Week: Wednesday vs. #19 LSU, Saturday vs. #1 Tennessee
Last week, I challenged Texas A&M on here and they played like a completely different team this week. They had a 13 point lead at half in Gainesville before letting the second half get away from them. Then they pulled the biggest surprise of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge upsetting a hot Kansas State team. Life doesn’t get easier for the Aggies as they host 2 of the best 3 teams in the league this week.
#14 Vanderbilt: 9-10 (0-6) - Last Week’s Ranking: 13
Last Week: Lost to #1 Tennessee 88-83 (OT), Lost to Oklahoma 86-55
This Week: Tonight vs. #7 Kentucky, Saturday at Missouri
Oh Vandy.... they had Tennessee beat before a flagrant foul changed the complexion of the contest late and ultimately, the Vols have Grant Williams and Vandy doesn’t. But following that up losing by 31 at Oklahoma isn’t a great look. Still, despite their record, this is a team to not take lightly.
That’s all this week. Once again, let me know your thoughts below!