SEC Basketball Power Rankings: Alabama rolls again, Vanderbilt on the rise, Kentucky back on track
The SEC men’s basketball season is chugging right along, but for 10 teams (everyone but Georgia, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt), there’s a brief break on Saturday.
That’s when the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge will be held. The SEC has won the last 2 events, something the Big 12 will be looking to change this year.
But there’s still one more round of SEC vs. SEC action before we get to Saturday.
As we approach more impactful league games, here’s a look at our updated 1-14 SEC men’s hoops power rankings:
14. South Carolina (8-11 overall, 1-5 in SEC, Last week: 13)
Another week, another pair of blowout losses for the Gamecocks. After an improbable win against Kentucky a couple of weeks ago, the Gamecocks have lost 3 straight games, all by double figures. All 3 of those losses came at home, to make matters worse. This week, the Gamecocks head to Florida on Wednesday night and to Georgia on Saturday. Those games look daunting for this struggling squad.
13. Ole Miss (9-10, 1-6, LW: 14)
The Rebels scored a blowout win at South Carolina last week, so they rise out of the basement of these power rankings. Still, don’t confuse this for a good Ole Miss squad. To rise any further, the Rebels will need to take down Mizzou in Oxford on Tuesday night and knock off Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Saturday as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Another 0-2 week will have the Rebels knocking at the cellar door once again, potentially.
12. Mississippi State (12-7, 1-6, LW: 12)
The Bulldogs continue to play well defensively, but the offense is absolutely atrocious in SEC play. Mississippi State is second-to-last in the SEC in points per game at 64.9, only 1.1 points per contest ahead of South Carolina. It has been ugly to watch. And this week has the chance to be brutal for Chris Jans’ squad – at No. 2 Alabama on Wednesday night and vs. No. 11 TCU in Starkville as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday.
11. LSU (12-7, 1-6, LW: 9)
Speaking of bad offenses, LSU has only hit the 70-point mark 1 time in SEC play in 7 tries – a 74-71 loss at Kentucky. The Tigers were held under 60 points in losses to Auburn and Tennessee last week. But this week provides an opportunity to start to turn things around. First up is a trip to Arkansas on Tuesday night. The Tigers’ lone SEC victory thus far was against the Razorbacks. On Saturday, they host Texas Tech in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The Red Raiders are currently 0-7 in Big 12 play, so the Tigers should have a real chance.
10. Arkansas (13-6, 2-5, LW: 11)
Arkansas finally picked up its second SEC victory, but it came against Ole Miss, one of the worst teams in the league. Will Nick Smith Jr. return to the court soon? February was mentioned for his possible return from injury, so we’ll see if that’s still the case soon enough. For now, the Hogs turn their attention to a revenge game against LSU on Tuesday night and a road trip to No. 17 Baylor on Saturday.
9. Georgia (13-6, 3-3, LW: 6)
The Bulldogs took a step back last week, losing at Kentucky and at home to Vanderbilt. The loss to the Commodores in Athens was particularly worrisome, as that’s a game you have to win to be a top-half squad in the SEC. This week starts off tough, as the Dawgs head to Tennessee on Wednesday night. Saturday’s home game against South Carolina gives Mike White’s squad a chance to get back on track, though.
8. Vanderbilt (10-9, 3-3, LW: 10)
Vanderbilt’s record isn’t very impressive, but the 3-3 mark in SEC action certainly is. The Commodores have become a much better team than they were in nonconference play. They’re scoring at a better rate and knocked down 10 of their 21 3-point shots on Saturday at Georgia. In that road win, 5 different Commodores scored at least 10 points. This is a confident team that will provide a tough challenge vs. Kentucky on Tuesday and at Texas A&M on Saturday.
7. Mizzou (14-5, 3-4, LW: 7)
Mizzou got crushed on Saturday night by Alabama, but who hasn’t been getting crushed by the Tide during league play? Kobe Brown was out with an ankle injury, making things even tougher. This is going to be a very important week for the Tigers, as they head to Ole Miss on Tuesday night in search of their first SEC road win of the year. The Rebels are a bad team and the Tigers need to win that game, because a ranked Iowa State squad visits Columbia on Saturday for the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
6. Florida (11-8, 4-3, LW: 5)
After an atrocious first half that saw the Gators score an embarrassing 12 points in a 54-52 loss at Texas A&M, they bounced back with a gritty road win at Mississippi State. Now they get a chance to pick up another SEC victory when South Carolina comes to town on Wednesday night. But then things get tougher. Florida draws former Gator star Keyontae Johnson and the No. 5 Kansas State Wildcats on Saturday in Manhattan as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Then No. 4 Tennessee visits Gainesville next Wednesday. That’s a daunting schedule!
5. Texas A&M (13-6, 5-1, LW: 3)
The Aggies finally suffered their first SEC loss, falling at Kentucky on Saturday. That’s far from an embarrassing loss, though, so don’t give up on the Aggies yet! Perhaps the best game on the midweek schedule in the SEC is Texas A&M’s trip to Auburn on Wednesday night. The Tigers also only have 1 loss in league play, but they’ve been far from dominant. If the Aggies play their best, an upset is a real possibility.
4. Kentucky (13-6, 4-3, LW: 8)
Kentucky has finally figured out its best lineup, and Antonio Reeves is thriving. He scored 23 points in a win over Texas A&M on Saturday – his highest scoring total as a Kentucky player. He knocked down 5 of his 11 3-point tries, letting the ball fly with confidence:
Antonio Reeves finds his 16th point (4 made threes) of the afternoon ?
— CatsCoverage.com (@Cats_Coverage) January 21, 2023
He was huge down the stretch, and his overall scoring ability will be a huge boost for the Wildcats moving forward. The Wildcats travel to Vanderbilt on Tuesday and host a reeling Kansas squad on Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Those are 2 winnable games if Kentucky plays the way it has of late.
3. Tennessee (16-3, 6-1, LW: 4)
The Vols have officially bounced back after a tough loss to Kentucky a couple of weeks ago. This past week, they beat Mississippi State and LSU by double figures, looking dominant in Baton Rouge on Saturday. After Georgia visits Rocky Top on Wednesday night, the Vols have a chance to earn a real résumé builder on Saturday when No. 10 Texas heads to Knoxville on Saturday. You know Rick Barnes wants a win in that one.
2. Auburn (16-3, 6-1, LW: 2)
Auburn is cruising right along in SEC play, but it has had one of the “easier” schedules in league action thus far. The Tigers have yet to play rival Alabama or a tough Tennessee squad, for example. But you can only beat the opponents in front of you, and Auburn has certainly done that! Johni Broome had his best game as an Auburn player thus far on Saturday in a win at South Carolina. He scored 27 points and had 11 rebounds. He also threw down this incredible alley-oop:
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) January 21, 2023
This week, the Tigers host Texas A&M on Wednesday night and then travel to West Virginia for the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The Mountaineers are one of the worst Big 12 teams, so it should be a winnable affair for Bruce Pearl and company.
1. Alabama (17-2, 7-0, LW: 1)
Alabama currently leads the SEC in points per game (84.1) and 3-pointers per game (10.4) and is tied with Texas A&M for most free throws per game (18.4). That’s a great recipe for success. So is having an elite player like freshman Brandon Miller. But he’s not the only freshman contributing for the Crimson Tide. Noah Clowney scored 17 points and had 14 rebounds in Alabama’s blowout win at Mizzou on Saturday. The Tide have so many talented players on this roster. Nate Oats and company should keep cruising this week, with Mississippi State heading to Tuscaloosa on Wednesday and a road trip to Oklahoma on Saturday.