The SEC was smoked in Saturday’s Big 12/SEC Challenge, losing the final installment of the annual contest 7-3.
It was the most one-sided loss since the Big 12 also won 7-3 in 2015-16. Only Mizzou, Mississippi State and Tennessee recorded wins, beating Iowa State, TCU and Texas teams.
How did the poor Saturday for the SEC affect our weekly power rankings? Here’s where each SEC men’s basket team ranks this week:
14. South Carolina (8-13 overall, 1-7 in SEC, last week: 14)
Another week, 2 more SEC losses for the Gamecocks. On Saturday, they were at least competitive in Georgia after losing to Florida by 21 points earlier in the week. Saturday’s game in Athens went into overtime before the Bulldogs eventually handed the Gamecocks an 81-78 loss. This week, the Gamecocks return to Columbia to host Mississippi on Tuesday and Arkansas on Saturday. If they can’t keep up in these games and keep the score within 10 points, things will get ugly.
13. Ole Miss (9-12, 1-7, LT: 13)
Speaking of ugly, Ole Miss gave up an SEC-record 16 3-pointers to Mizzou on Tuesday night and then took to the streets and lost by 22 points in the Big 12/SEC challenge at Oklahoma State. The Rebels can’t get their offense and defense on the same page this year and it’s hurt them immensely. This week is looking daunting as Kentucky hits town on Tuesday night and has a road trip to Vanderbilt on Saturday.
12. LSU (12-9, 1-7, LW: 11)
The Tigers currently have the longest losing streak in the SEC with 8 games. It wouldn’t be surprising to see that streak stretch to 10 games this week, as LSU travels to Mizzou on Wednesday and hosts Alabama on Saturday. The last game against The Tide ended in a 40-point blowout loss. If the Tigers can’t beat a Texas Tech team that went 0-8 in the Big 12 game, the week ahead doesn’t bode well.
11. Vanderbilt (10-11, 3-5, LF: 8)
Vanderbilt has taken a small step back since showing some signs of life earlier in conference play. The Commodores lost to Kentucky and at Texas A&M last week, falling below .500 in SEC action. The good news is that a 1-1 week is a great way to move forward. Yes, the Commodores face a difficult test Tuesday when they travel against No. 4 Alabama. But on Saturday, Ole Miss comes to Nashville in a game Vanderbilt was determined to win.
10. Arkansas (14-7, 3-5, LF: 10)
I’m not going to punish the hogs for losing at Baylor. They more than held their own in a tough street atmosphere against a top 20 team in the country, losing 67-64. But now it’s time to pick up some wins to boost her NCAA tournament resume. You have a chance starting Tuesday night when a hot Texas A&M team visits Fayetteville. If Eric Musselman can lead his side to a win there it will be a great sign for the future.
9. Georgia (14:7, 4:4, LW: 9)
Losing in Tennessee at 29 and working overtime to beat South Carolina didn’t bode well for the Bulldogs. They’re trending the wrong way after a 3-1 start to the SEC game. Georgia’s best win came at home against a top-flight Auburn team. Well, on Wednesday night, the Dawgs travel to Auburn to take on the No. 25 Tigers. Then on Saturday they have another fascinating game against Texas A&M in College Station. If Mike White and co. win one of those games and can stay around .500 for another week in conference play, NCAA tournament bubble talk isn’t out of the question.
8. Mississippi State (13-8, 1-7, LW: 12)
I was very impressed with the determination the Bulldogs showed when they batted back then – no. 11 TCU on Saturday. Tolu Smith was a machine in the 81-74 overtime win over the Horned Frogs, recording 27 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks. Playing like this, the Bulldogs can beat anyone below them on this list. But the problem is they’re still 1-7 in the SEC game. Unless that changes this week (in South Carolina on Tuesday and against Mizzou on Saturday), the state of Mississippi will slip back into double digits on that power rankings next Tuesday.
7. Florida (12-9, 5-3, LW: 6)
Pulling off perhaps the toughest task of the Big 12/SEC Challenge, Florida went on to take on then-No. 5 Kansas State in an emotional matchup against former gator Keyontae Johnson. The Gators started very slowly again, going up 16 points in the first half and trailing by 21 points in the second half. The Wildcats drove to a 64-50 win, with Johnson hitting a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Florida needs to bounce back from that loss quickly as the week ahead is brutal. The Gators host No. 2 Tennessee and travel to Kentucky on Saturday.
6. Maroon (16-5, 6-2, LT: 2)
Auburn had a rough week, being smoked by 16 points at home by Texas A&M and losing by 3 points Saturday in West Virginia after a late comeback attempt fell short. The Tigers are now on a two-game losing streak this week, making Wednesday’s home game against Georgia a very important one. Auburn travels to Knoxville on Saturday to take on No. 2 Tennessee. So a win over rivals Georgia on Wednesday would take a lot of the pressure off that game on Rocky Top.
5. Kentucky (14-7, 5-3, LT: 4)
Kentucky was on its 4-game winning streak against Kansas on Saturday night. The Wildcats aren’t going to win many games shooting 2-on-13 (15.4%) from 3-point range. Antonio Reeves and CJ Fredrick went 8-0 together from long range and Fredrick only had 2 points. That’s not a recipe for success. Now that teams are getting used to Kentucky’s line-up of Reeves, Fredrick, Cason Wallace, Jacob Toppin and Oscar Tshiebwe, it’s time coach John Calipari designed some new creases for this Group of 5 to give them a cleaner look to get the basket. We’ll see if he’s up to the task.
4. Mizzou (16-5, 4-4, LT: 7)
Mizzou has been red hot from afar lately. The Tigers put up an SEC-record 16 3-pointers in a road win at Ole Miss midway through last week, going 16-to-30 from beyond the arc. They followed with a 14-for-30 performance from deep in a win over then-No. 12 State Iowa on Saturday. D’Moi Hodge had 6 3s against the Rebels and 5 against the Cyclones:
D’Moi Hodge lit it @MizzouHoops‘Beating Ole Miss earlier this week? @Dmoi_VI
The Cleveland State transfer is currently averaging 14.5 PTS 3.8 REB 1.7 AST on the 47/39/72 shoot. #NBA Draft pic.twitter.com/kgdCGeUlHC
— No Ceilings (@NoCeilingsNBA) January 26, 2023
If the Tigers can stay hot from afar, then beating LSU on Wednesday and winning at Mississippi State on Saturday is certainly very doable. First-year coach Dennis Gates is doing a great job with this team so far.
3. Texas A&M (15-6, 7-1, LW: 5)
Texas A&M continues to prove their 7-1 start in the SEC game is no fluke. The Aggies blew out Auburn to claim an impressive road win and defeated a rowdy Vanderbilt squad on Saturday. Tyrece Radford had 30 points and 9 rebounds in the win over the Tigers. He made 3 3-pointers and went 11-12 from the free-throw line, but he’s also a talented finisher on the edge:
a few dirty surfaces by Tyrece Radford (@tyreceradford23) in his 30 ball last night against Auburn. pic.twitter.com/THx4mvMIJy
— Jake Kerr (@jakeeekerr) January 26, 2023
This is a Texas A&M team that can beat anyone in the SEC any night. The Aggies will have their say on track at the SEC regular season race.
2. Alabama (18-3, 8-0, LF: 1)
Alabama beat Mississippi by just 3 points in Tuscaloosa to start last week. That should have been a wake-up call for the Tide, but it’s clear the lesson wasn’t learned in time for Saturday’s game in Oklahoma, when the then no. The 2nd Alabama squad was absolutely destroyed by the unrated Sooners, 93-69. But there’s reason for optimism in Tuscaloosa. The Tide hosts Vanderbilt on Tuesday nights and heads to LSU on Saturday. That’s 2 winnable games. If The Tide can improve to 10-0 in the SEC game this week, they will sit well.
1. Tennessee (18-3, 7-1, LB: 3)
The Vols keep rolling, adding a top 10 win to their tally against Texas on Saturday. Zakai Zeigler was named SEC Player of the Week after his double-double with 22 points and 10 assists against the Longhorns. Here was one of his assists for forward Olivier Nkamhoua, who posted a game-high 27 points:
Zakai Zeigler to Olivier Nkamhoua for the big alley-oop slam? @rockytopinsider pic.twitter.com/B2wHU6WLC3
— Ric Butler (@Ric_Butler) January 29, 2023
It’s not like the Vols are conceding 71 points like they did to Texas in their 82-71 win. But offense is also clicking now, and that’s a really scary thought moving forward.