Brandon Miller, Alabama Crimson Tide, SEC Basketball

George Bagwell gives his SEC basketball power rankings for week 11 of the season.


Matchup of the week: Alabama vs. Missouri

Sneaky good matchup of the week: Texas A&M vs. Florida

All game times are in EST.

1) Alabama Crimson Tide

Last week’s ranking: 2 (+1)

Record: 15-2 (3-0)

Last week: @ #15 Arkansas (W) 84-69, LSU (W) 106-66

Next week: @ Vanderbilt (Jan. 17 – 8:30 p.m.), @ Missouri (Jan. 21 – 6 p.m.)

Best wins: @ Houston, @ Arkansas, Michigan State, North Carolina, Memphis, Liberty

Worst losses: N/A

Before I get into Alabama’s performance, a quick note. Junior Darius Miles, out for the season already, was arrested over the weekend on a capital murder charge resulting from an incident near Bryant-Denny Stadium. Obviously, that takes precedence over what happens in a ballgame between collegiate athletes, and hopefully, the families of those involved can eventually receive closure. It would feel wrong as a journalist to simply skip over the severe events that took place while simultaneously reporting on the Alabama basketball team’s weekly happenings. 

As for the games, Alabama played really well, beating a ranked Arkansas team by 15 on the road before making quick work of LSU, thoroughly defeating them by 40 points, 106-66. Brandon Miller has been playing his best ball as of late, scoring 31 points against LSU in just 24 minutes. The team as a whole looks like it could contend with anyone in the nation, and if they keep playing like this, I don’t see this team losing any time soon. That includes this week with road games against Vandy and Mizzou. Even if Tennessee hadn’t lost to Kentucky, Alabama would still occupy the top spot this week.

2) Tennessee Volunteers

Last week’s ranking: 1 (-1)

Record: 14-3 (4-1)

Last week: Vanderbilt (W) 77-68, Kentucky (L) 56-63

Next week: @ Mississippi State (Jan. 17 – 7 p.m.), @ LSU (Jan. 21 – 4 p.m.)

Best wins: Kansas, USC, Maryland

Worst losses: Colorado

It was a tale of two weeks for Tennessee, as they followed up two masterclass performances two weeks ago with a bit of a dud last week. With two home games, Vanderbilt and Kentucky, on the docket, it would have seemed like easy work for the Vols. However, they beat Vandy by “only” nine points as 17-point favorites, then lost to a Kentucky squad that had just lost to the same South Carolina team that the Vols beat by 43. So not the best of weeks for Tennessee, but luckily for them it is still January. March won’t start for another two months, and they’ve got another 15 games or so to find a more consistent offensive identity. 

Other than that, their defense is still stellar and should win them games as they continue to work out the kinks on offense. This week, they’ve got road games against Mississippi State and LSU, a combined 2-8 in conference play. If they want to prove the Kentucky game was an aberration, which I’m sure they’re itching to do, they’ll show up with two dominant wins. 

3) Auburn Tigers

Last week’s ranking: 5 (+2)

Record: 14-3 (4-1)

Last week: @ Ole Miss, (W) 82-73, Mississippi State (W) 69-63

Next week: @ LSU (Jan. 18 – 7 p.m.), @ South Carolina (Jan. 21 – 3:30 p.m.)

Best wins: Arkansas, Northwestern, Saint Louis

Worst losses: N/A

Auburn, in a week where plenty of ranked teams decided to simply not perform, took care of business against the two Mississippi schools last week. It may not have been pretty, but they got the job done. If there is a concern to be had with the record, it’s that Ole Miss and Mississippi State were the 2nd and 3rd straight games against sub-.500 conference records for the Tigers. Next week in road games against LSU and South Carolina, it’ll be the 4th and 5th straight. In true Auburn form, we may not know how good Auburn actually is until they play Texas A&M, Alabama, and Mizzou back-to-back-to-back in February. Until then, the Tigers will likely win the games they’re supposed to. 

As a team, they can still definitely improve their 30% 3PT mark, a 68% FT mark, a SEC-high 19.2 fouls per game, and the 3rd-highest conference mark of 13.7 TOPG. So there are definitely issues to fix, and some may be unfixable. But there is no better time to improve than against LSU and South Carolina.

Welcome to the SEC Basketball Power Rankings Top 3, Auburn. Enjoy your stay, and please give Dylan Cardwell more minutes per game. He’s hungry in the paint.

4) Texas A&M Aggies

Last week’s ranking: 10 (+6)

Record: 12-5 (4-0)

Last week: #20 Missouri (W) 82-64, @ South Carolina (W) 94-53

Next week: Florida (Jan. 18 – 7 p.m.), @ Kentucky (Jan. 21 – 2 p.m.)

Best wins: Missouri, @ Florida, LSU

Worst losses: Murray State, Wofford

What a start to SEC play it’s been for Texas A&M. They’re 4-0 and look like a completely new team than the one that lost to Murray State and Wofford. Wade Taylor IV isn’t missing, Henry Coleman and Julius Marble are seemingly grabbing every rebound, and Tyrece Radford has scored in double figures in five of his last six contests. They were projected as a tournament team going into this year, and they’re finally looking the part.

Along with Alabama, they’re the only SEC basketball team without a conference loss so far, so kudos to the Aggies. Last week, they beat Missouri and South Carolina by an average of 29.5 PPG. That’s impressive for any school, let alone an unranked, 10-5 team. 

This week, they take on a Florida team at home that they’ve already beaten, before heading to Kentucky to play at Rupp. I have absolutely no clue what to expect there, given Kentucky’s recent upset victory over Tennessee, but the Aggies could very well improve to 6-0 by the end of the week. 

5) Missouri Tigers

Last week’s ranking: 3 (-2)

Record: 13-4 (2-3)

Last week: @ Texas A&M (L) 64-82, @ Florida (L) 64-73

Next week: #25 Arkansas (Jan. 18 – 9 p.m.), #4 Alabama (Jan. 21 – 6 p.m.)

Best wins: Illinois, Kentucky, UCF

Worst losses: N/A

Missouri slipped up a bit, losing to both Texas A&M and Florida last week. The Texas A&M loss is excusable, given how well they’ve been playing, but the loss to Florida is a bit of a head-scratcher, even given that it was on the road. Kobe Brown contributed 21 points, but the team only shot 16% from deep, while giving up 43% from behind the arc to the Gators. Scoring 64 points in both, that number is over 20 PPG lower than their season average. 

This week, they can get back on track, but it’s not going to be easy. They’ve got a revenge game at home against Arkansas before playing host to #4 Alabama. Just one win this week can prove Dennis Gates’s team’s mettle. 

6) Georgia Bulldogs

Last week’s ranking: 9 (+3)

Record: 13-4 (3-1)

Last week: Mississippi State (W) 58-50, @ Ole Miss (W) 62-58

Next week: @ Kentucky (Jan. 17 – 9 p.m.), Vanderbilt (Jan. 21 – 1 p.m.)

Best wins: Auburn, Mississippi State, Notre Dame

Worst losses: @ Georgia Tech

I’m willing to admit I didn’t anticipate having to put a single-digit ranking by Georgia’s name all season. Now, they’re ranked 6th after starting SEC basketball play with solid wins over Auburn and both Mississippi schools. The duo of Terry Roberts and Kario Oquendo continues to succeed, and the ‘Dogs keep winning.

This week, however, they drew a Kentucky road game and a home matchup against the surprisingly 2-2 in SEC play Vanderbilt Commodores. This should really be a litmus test for Mike White, as his team has looked better than those two schools most of the year, and a 15-4 start for Georgia would be astonishing. 

7) Florida Gators

Last week’s ranking: 11 (+4)

Record: 10-7 (3-2)

Last week: @ LSU (W) 67-56, #20 Missouri (W) 73-64

Next week: @ Texas A&M (Jan. 18 – 7 p.m.), @ Mississippi State (Jan. 21 – 8:30 p.m.)

Best wins: Missouri, Georgia, @ LSU

Worst losses: N/A

Florida quietly has a 3-2 conference record, and for good reason. They don’t look good doing it. Almost every other offensive possession is marred by poor spacing or lack of ball movement, usually spearheaded by a shot near the end of the shot clock or a Colin Castleton attempt from the paint, and before last week there was (very) localized chatter about Todd Golden’s job security next year. But, I’m sitting here eating Cheez-Its while typing this while Florida goes 2-0 in conference play with a ranked win over Mizzou and a double-digit road win over LSU. Both things I do not have. Score one for the Gators. They move up 4 spots to #7 this week, even with a 10-7 overall record.

They’ve got games this week against Texas A&M on the road before traveling to Starkville to take on Mississippi State. A 1-1 showing is likely, but anything can happen with this Florida team. 

8) Kentucky Wildcats

Last week’s ranking: 7 (-1)

Record: 11-6 (2-3)

Last week: South Carolina (L) 68-71, @ #5 Tennessee (W) 63-56

Next week: Georgia (Jan. 17 – 9 p.m.), Texas A&M (Jan. 21 – 2 p.m.)

Best wins: @ Tennessee, Michigan, LSU

Worst losses: South Carolina

Kentucky, I don’t even know what to say. Losing to (probably) the worst team in the conference at home, having a fan ejected for holding up a “Please Leave for Texas” poster, and media discourse about John Calipari’s “last game as a Wildcat,” to BEATING #5 TENNESSEE ON THE ROAD. What a turnaround for Kentucky, right around when all seemed lost. So, naturally, they fall one spot to #8 in the rankings. Such is life in the SEC. (And a reminder that they still trail Vanderbilt in the conference by a half-game.)

Perhaps the monumental win will set a tone for the rest of the season for Kentucky, who still has plenty of time to build a tournament resume, even if it hasn’t really done so so far. The offense will still need to get better, but perhaps the right rotation is all that’s needed to see improvement. The defense, at least against Tennessee, looked the best it has all year. 

This week, they’re taking on Georgia and Texas A&M at home. Going into conference play, that wouldn’t have seemed too difficult, but the two are actually 7-1 combined against SEC basketball opposition, so this could be two tests for the Wildcats. A passing grade gets them back into March Madness discussions. 

9) Arkansas Razorbacks

Last week’s ranking: 4 (-5)

Record: 12-5 (1-4)

Last week: #4 Alabama (L) 69-84, @ Vanderbilt (L) 84-97

Next week: @ Missouri (Jan. 18 – 9 p.m.), Ole Miss (Jan. 21 – Noon)

Best wins: San Diego State, Missouri, Oklahoma

Worst losses: @ Vanderbilt

Arkansas is a struggling team right now, and it’s evident that injuries have taken a toll. The losses of Trevon Brazile and Nick Smith Jr., especially Brazile, cannot be understated. For whatever reason, they’re still ranked in the AP Poll at 12-5, but this is the SEC Power Rankings, and as far as the author is concerned, Arkansas’s power is rated at a minimum at the moment. The loss to Vanderbilt is very concerning, not just as a loss, but as a thorough, outscored by 21, committing 30 fouls, being outrebounded by Vanderbilt, defeat. That’s how the Razorbacks look. Defeated. 

The shooting woes continue, as Arkansas now averages 4.7 3PM per game, good for 353rd in the country out of 363 teams. Relying on the 2-point shot isn’t bad, but it is bad when the leading post player is out for the year, leaving 3 guards as the leading scorers on a team that seems hell-bent on taking at least one step inside the arc on almost every shot. It would also be one thing if that team was making free throws when they got to the line, but the team is only shooting 69% from the charity stripe. Ever since the injuries to Nick Smith and Trevon Brazile, Arkansas hasn’t made any adjustments, offensively or defensively. They need to, and quickly, even if Smith is (reportedly) coming back in February. 

This week, they take on Missouri on the road in what is a revenge game for the Tigers, before playing Ole Miss at home. The latter should be a game in which the Razorbacks handle their opponents easily. If they don’t, it could be a long road ahead. 

10) Vanderbilt Commodores

Last week’s ranking: 12 (+2)

Record: 9-8 (2-2)

Last week: @ #5 Tennessee (L) 68-77, #15 Arkansas (W) 97-84

Next week: #4 Alabama (Jan. 17 – 8:30 p.m.), @ Georgia (Jan. 21 – 1 p.m.)

Best wins: Arkansas, Pittsburgh, @ Temple

Worst losses: Grambling State

I told Vanderbilt last week, and nearly promised them, that a win against either Tennessee on the road or Arkansas at home would move them out of the SEC Basketball Power Rankings Bottom 3. And look at Jerry Stackhouse’s squad! Not just a win over Arkansas, but a convincing one at that. 97 points were scored in a 13-point victory. Plus, they did play Tennessee sort of close on the road. Congratulations, Commodores.

Watching the Arkansas game, it’s hard to imagine this is the same squad that lost to Grambling State earlier this year. They play smart, focused, and team basketball. Not one player wins them the game, but they work together to squeeze the most out of every offensive and defensive possession they’re given. 10 players are averaging over 10 MPG, and the depth of a team that lost Scotty Pippen Jr. last year looks at worst above-average, and at best very good. 

The emergence of Tyrin Lawrence and Ezra Manjon in SEC play has been positive to see, and those two combine with upperclassmen Liam Robbins, Myles Stute, and Jordan Wright to form a very solid nucleus. 

This week, they have to play red-hot Alabama before taking a road trip to Athens. Both Alabama and Georgia are playing way above preseason expectations, so I’d be surprised if Vanderbilt manages to earn a win this week. But who knows? After all, the ‘Dores are 2-2 in conference play. That’s better than Kentucky, Arkansas, LSU, and Mississippi State can say. 

11) LSU Tigers

Last week’s ranking: 6 (-5)

Record: 12-5 (1-4)

Last week: Florida (L) 56-67, @ #4 Alabama (L) 66-106

Next week: #16 Auburn (Jan. 18 – 7 p.m.), #9 Tennessee (Jan. 21 – 4 p.m.)

Best wins: Arkansas, Wake Forest, Wofford

Worst losses: N/A

LSU has fallen hard since a 12-1 start, losing four straight conference games with three of those defeats by double digits, including a 106-66 thrashing by Alabama and an 11-point home loss to Florida and fellow first-year coach Todd Golden. They’re averaging just 62 PPG in those four games and committed more turnovers than their opponents in every one of those contests as well. The offense is sloppy, lacks multiple scorers besides KJ Williams, (who is doing very well with 18 PPG), and ranks 13th out of 14th in the conference in rebounding. The entire defense is only averaging 2.6 BPG, which is less than Colin Castleton has per game, and they’re 10th in the conference in opponent PPG, even with the tastiest of cupcake non-con schedules. 

The road gets bumpier this week, even with the Tigers playing at home. They’ve got Auburn and Tennessee, two ranked opponents in one week. It’s hard to expect anything other than a 1-6 start to SEC hoops play for Matt McMahon’s group. 

12) Mississippi State Bulldogs

Last week’s ranking: 8 (-4)

Record: 12-5 (1-4)

Last week: @ Georgia (L) 50-58, @ #21 Auburn (L) 63-69

Next week: #9 Tennessee (Jan. 17 – 7 p.m.), Florida (Jan. 21 – 8:30 p.m.)

Best wins: Marquette, Utah, Ole Miss

Worst losses: Drake 

Mississippi State’s production has basically hit a wall since their first loss of the season to Drake. Their offense hasn’t scored 70+ points since Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 3, (something Alabama has achieved in 15 of their 17 games) and while their defense is only giving up 57 PPG on the year, seven of their last eight opponents have scored more than 57 points. That includes both Jackson State and Nicholls State. That also includes both of last week’s opponents, Georgia and Auburn. 

Sure, their margin of defeat was a combined -14 points. But the Bulldogs are borderline unwatchable. What do I mean by that? Well, against Georgia, they got to the line 22 times, then converted 7 free throws. That’s a 31% FT mark. They also committed 24 fouls, sent Georgia to the line 31 times, and the (other) Bulldogs were able to shoot 25-31 from the line, good for a 80% mark. That was *the* deciding factor in the 8-point game, and there’s no escaping that for Chris Jans’ squad. 

Against Auburn, they rebounded for a 21-for-28 mark from the line. 75%, that’s pretty good, right? Then, they outrebounded the Tigers by a 38-32 margin. Also good! But, they shot 18 threes and DID NOT MAKE A SINGLE ONE. Zero. They went 0-of-18 from behind the arc, and Auburn went 11-of-25. That’s a 33-point margin from three for the Tigers, almost impossible to overcome.

Now, this leaves the Bulldogs at 1-4 in the conference and 1-5 in their last 6 games. The road doesn’t get easier, as they draw #9 Tennessee this week, followed by a home game against a Florida team that matches up well against them.

(Also of note, Mississippi State ranks 340th out of 363 teams in 3PT% and 359th in FT%. This very well could be the worst shooting team in recent SEC history.)

13) South Carolina Gamecocks

Last week’s ranking: 14 (+1)

Record: 8-9 (1-3)

Last week: @ Kentucky (W) 71-68, Texas A&M (L) 53-94

Next week: Ole Miss (Jan. 17 – 6:30 p.m.), Auburn (Jan. 21 – 3:30 p.m.)

Best wins: Clemson, @ Kentucky, Western Kentucky

Worst losses: @ George Washington, East Carolina, Davidson, @ Vanderbilt

Congratulations to Lamont Paris on picking up his first SEC basketball win, and I’m sure there will be plenty more wins on the docket. What a way to earn it, too, with a road win over Kentucky at Rupp Arena behind Meechie Johnson’s career-high 26-point performance. 

The next game, though, was tough to watch. I was in attendance, so I would know. Against Texas A&M, the Gamecocks fell behind 50-15 in the first half, and it was all straight sledding for the Aggies from there. Wade Taylor, Henry Coleman, and Julius Marble could not miss from the field, and Coleman had actually outrebounded the entire South Carolina roster by halftime. It marked the first time the Gamecocks had been outscored by 40+ at home since…last week.

But, it’s basically year 0 for Lamont Paris. He inherited a roster in shambles and is meeting any (reasonable) expectations. It’s year 5 for Kermit Davis, so the Gamecocks get the slight nod of respect at #13 instead of staying at #14. (Plus Ole Miss hasn’t beaten Kentucky on the road.) That might not last, however, as the Rebels and ‘Cocks meet on the court Tuesday in Columbia before South Carolina hosts Auburn on Saturday. Tune in for the Ole Miss game, as the winner (very) likely takes home the coveted “not-last-in-the-conference-anymore” award. It’s quite prestigious.

14) Ole Miss Rebels

Last week’s ranking: 13 (-1)

Record: 8-9 (0-5)

Last week: #21 Auburn (L) 73-82, Georgia (L) 58-62

Next week: @ South Carolina (Jan. 17 – 6:30 p.m.), @ #25 Arkansas (Jan. 21 – Noon)

Best wins: Florida Atlantic, Temple, Stanford

Worst losses: North Alabama

Welcome to the SEC Basketball Power Rankings Cellar, Ole Miss. It pains me to slide the Rebels into the 14th slot, but they’ve left me no choice. Such is life in the Southeastern Conference when a team has the only remaining winless conference record.

Last week, they lost two home games, one to Auburn and another to Georgia. They were both by single digits, and Matt Murrell managed to average 18.5 PPG over the two games. 

Besides Murrell, however, the offense has struggled to get going, as he’s averaging 6 PPG more than any other player. And given the schedule they’ve played so far, one would expect them to eke out at least one win, like the rest of the conference has been able to do. So far, they haven’t been able to do that, which relegates them to last place. 

The good news is that they have a great opportunity to leave the cellar with a winnable road game against former cellar-dweller South Carolina on Tuesday, followed by a tougher road game against a (still) banged-up Arkansas.

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