Nate Oats, Alabama Crimson Tide, SEC Basketball

George Bagwell gives his SEC basketball power rankings for week 15 of the season.


Matchup of the week: Auburn vs. Alabama

Sneaky good matchup of the week: Tennessee vs. Missouri

All game times are in EST.

1) Alabama Crimson Tide

Last week’s ranking: 1 (+0)

Record: 22-3 (12-0)

Last week: Florida (W) 97-69, @ Auburn (W) 77-69

Next week: @ #10 Tennessee (Feb. 15 – 7 p.m.), Georgia (Feb. 18 – 6 p.m.)

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

Worst losses: Oklahoma

Current Tournament Position: 1 seed (Making the Madness, Waldo’s Watchlist, Matty Brackets, ESPN, CBS Sports)

Alabama, in addition to remaining in the fabled first spot in the latest edition of SEC Basketball Power Rankings, now has a new merit to add to their 2022-23 trophy case: a #1 ranking in the AP Poll. (Only slightly more important than the SEC Power Rankings #1 Spot.) After convincing wins over Florida at home and Auburn on the road, the Crimson Tide are rolling, and a Purdue loss to Northwestern sealed Nate Oats’ squad to the #1 ranking.  

Perhaps one of the bigger revelations for the team over the past handful of games has been the play of freshman Rylan Griffin, who has scored 10+ points in four of his last five games after accomplishing the feat just once over the previous 18 games. He led the team in points in the 77-69 victory over Auburn, and Brandon Miller, Mark Sears, and Jaden Bradley all scored in double figures as well.

Is Alabama the most talented team in the nation? At the end of the day, probably not. Will they be the favorites to win March Madness? Yet again, at the end of the day, probably not. But, are they the most deserving team to be ranked #1 in the country right now? I would say yes, they’ve earned that. 

Looking ahead to this week, the Crimson Tide play what looks to be their toughest SEC test yet this year, a road game in Knoxville on Wednesday night. That’s followed by a home game against Georgia. Also of note, a little-known rule within the SEC Power Rankings Universe states “A win over the #1 ranked team automatically vaults the winner to the top of the week’s SEC Power Rankings.” (Third paragraph, first sentence of the Week 6 Power Rankings.) So, Tennessee, Georgia, y’all have a chance to make some major moves this week. Will they get it done? I think Alabama sweeps, but anything could happen in the Southeastern Conference. 

2) Texas A&M Aggies

Last week’s ranking: 4 (+2)

Record: 18-7 (10-2)

Last week: Auburn (W) 83-78, @ LSU (W) 74-62

Next week: Arkansas (Feb. 15 – 9 p.m.), @ Missouri (Feb. 18 – 6 p.m.)

Best wins: Missouri, Auburn (x2), Florida (x2)

Worst losses: Murray State, Wofford

Current Tournament Position: 11 seed (Matty Brackets), Last Four In (Waldo’s Watchlist, ESPN, Making The Madness), First Four Out (CBS Sports)

For the first time since week 3, we have a team other than Alabama or Tennessee in the top 2 of the SEC Basketball Power Rankings. Congratulations, Texas A&M! The Aggies are 12-2 in their last 14 games, and 8 of those 12 wins have been by double digits. Just like last year, the Aggies are rolling at the right time, right before March. While they’re facing the hardest part of their schedule toward the end of the season, they’re riding the momentum to face it head-on. They’re also getting serious NCAA Tournament consideration, which is great news after last year’s snub.

Last week against Auburn, the Aggies got to the line 39 times, converting 31 times en route to a 83-78 win. Playing physical and using Wade Taylor IV to penetrate the Tiger defense worked to perfection, and the 83 points scored was the most by a team against Auburn all year. Julius Marble also scored 20 points to go along with 7 rebounds against the Tigers.

Against LSU, Texas A&M got off to their *second* 41-12 run in SEC basketball conference play this year. (That’s a crazy stat. I need to reiterate that. If you’re reading this, take a moment to absorb that tidbit of information. Thanks.) They slept walk the rest of the way, allowing LSU to cut the lead to eight with four minutes remaining, but ultimately kept the lead. Wade Taylor IV led the team with 23 points on 6-of-11 shooting. 

Looking ahead, the Aggies play Arkansas at home, who is one of two SEC teams to beat Texas A&M so far this year, followed by a road matchup with Missouri. On one hand, it’s definitely difficult. On the other hand, it’s another chance to improve their tournament resume. A 2-0 week would go a long way come Selection Sunday. 

3) Missouri Tigers

Last week’s ranking: 6 (+3)

Record: 19-6 (7-5)

Last week: South Carolina (W) 83-74, @ #6 Tennessee (W) 86-85

Next week: @ Auburn (Feb. 14 – 7 p.m.), Texas A&M (Feb. 18 – 6 p.m.)

Best wins: @ Tennessee, Iowa State, Illinois, Arkansas, Kentucky

Worst losses: N/A

Current Tournament Position: 4 seed (CBS Sports), 6 seed (Making The Madness), 8 seed (Waldo’s Watchlist, Matty Brackets) 10 seed (ESPN)

Before I get into Missouri’s week, I wish to ask one hypothetical. How good would they be with Trevon Brazile if he didn’t transfer? That’s up for debate, but we’ll never know. What a great week for Missouri, though. Beating South Carolina (expected,) and then shocking Tennessee on the road (unexpected!) It’ll likely do wonders once Selection Sunday comes around, and the Tigers are already putting themselves in a great position. Dennis Gates for SEC Coach of the Year? I may lock in my vote already. 

Against South Carolina, Kobe Brown led the team in points again with 19 and 6 rebounds. Sean East II came off the bench to score 15, and D’Moi Hodge had 12 points to go along with 5 steals against the ‘Cocks.

Against Tennessee, Sean East II caught fire off the bench with 17 points and 4 assists to go along with 2 steals. Kobe Brown led the team with 21 points. 

Looking ahead, the Tigers have two very tough games that could go a long way toward their seed in March. They’ve got Auburn on the road in a tough environment before coming home to host Texas A&M. 

4) Tennessee Volunteers

Last week’s ranking: 2 (-2)

Record: 19-6 (8-4)

Last week: @ Vanderbilt (L) 65-66, Missouri (L) 85-86

Next week: #1 Alabama (Feb. 15 – 7 p.m.), @ Kentucky (Feb. 18 – 1 p.m.)

Best wins: Kansas, Texas, Maryland, USC, Auburn

Worst losses: Colorado, @ Vanderbilt

Current Tournament Position: 2 seed (Making The Madness, Matty Brackets, ESPN, Waldo’s Watchlist), 4 seed (CBS Sports)

If I had a nickel for every time Tennessee lost at the buzzer last week, I’d have two nickels. I’d need 5,000,000 nickels to pay the $250,000 fine Vanderbilt got for rushing the court against the Vols after Tyrin Lawrence sent home the #6 team packing. A few days later, DeAndre Gholston shocked the Vols at Thompson-Boling with a running three-pointer at the buzzer.

I’m split on where to rank the Vols because they’re a few inches away from being 21-4 and 10-2 in the conference. But guess what? They’re not, and inches matter. They fall from the top three for the first time in months, as both Texas A&M and Missouri both pass the Vols. In all honesty, I would hate to go through two buzzer-beaters in one week. That seems unbearable. But the good news is that Tennessee is pretty much a lock for the NCAA Tournament, so I’m not feeling *quite* as bad for the Vols’ fans. 

In terms of individual performances, Tyreke Key and Santiago Vescovi led the team with 14 points each against Vanderbilt, and Zakai Zeigler managed 7 assists. Even though Tennessee out-rebounded Vandy 37-29, Tennessee only got to the line three times, going 2-for-3 from the stripe, compared to Vandy’s 8-for-12 mark. In a 1-point game, that’s all the difference.

Against Mizzou, the Vols fell behind 17 in the second half and all seemed lost, especially given the offensive struggles of Tennessee. However, the outside shooting caught fire, and Tennessee took a six-point lead with four minutes to go. Up two points and at the line, unfortunately (or fortunately, if you were rooting for Mizzou) Vescovi missed the first off the front rim then a lane violation negated the second attempt. (It missed anyway, but it gave the Tigers a chance to inbound the ball.) That chance was not wasted, as Gholston hit a buzzer-beating three for the second time this year. Tough week, Vols fans. 

Looking ahead, though, Tennessee has a really tough matchup at Thompson-Boling Arena against #1 Alabama. With home-court advantage, that game could go either way. Next, they’ll try to avenge their loss to Kentucky with a matchup at Rupp. 

5) Mississippi State Bulldogs

Last week’s ranking: 9 (+4)

Record: 17-8 (5-7)

Last week: LSU (W) 64-53, @ Arkansas (W) 70-64

Next week: Kentucky (Feb. 15 – 8:30 p.m.), @ Ole Miss (Feb. 18 – 3:30 p.m.)

Best wins: Marquette, TCU, Missouri, @ Arkansas, Utah

Worst losses: N/A

Current Tournament Position: 11 seed (Making The Madness), Last Four In (CBS Sports), First Four Out (Waldo’s Watchlist), OUT (Matty Brackets, ESPN)

Mississippi State is riding the good vibes, winners of five in a row, with three of those opponents currently slated to make the tournament. Despite starting the SEC contests 1-7 in their first 8, they are hitting their stride, winning their past four after defeating LSU and Arkansas last week. Arkansas counts as a Quad 1 win, too, something Mississippi State has been racking up this year. (That Marquette win is looking phenomenal right about now.) A major change? They’re actually hitting their shots while playing good defense. Earlier this year, the Bulldogs couldn’t buy a basket, but they just shot 60% from three-point distance last week against Arkansas on the road.  

The other game, a home win over LSU, was easy work for Chris Jans’ team. D.J. Jeffries led the team in points and rebounds, with 18 and 7, respectively. In the Arkansas matchup, Dashawn Davis led the way with 17 points. 

Looking ahead to this week, it’s not too difficult for the Bulldogs. It shouldn’t be, at least. A home game against Kentucky is followed by a trip down the road to Oxford. A 2-0 week brings the Bulldogs’ record to 19-8 (7-7,) and that sounds like a tournament team to me. 

6) Arkansas Razorbacks

Last week’s ranking: 7 (+1)

Record: 17-8 (6-6)

Last week: @ Kentucky (W) 88-73, Mississippi State (L) 64-70

Next week: @ Texas A&M (Feb. 15 – 9 p.m.), Florida (Feb. 18 – 2 p.m.)

Best wins: San Diego State, Missouri, @ Kentucky, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Fordham

Worst losses: N/A

Current Tournament Position: 8 seed (Waldo’s Watchlist, ESPN), 9 seed (Matty Brackets), 10 seed (CBS Sports, Making The Madness)

Arkansas did exactly what they had to do against Kentucky on the road, beating the Wildcats by 15 after struggling against South Carolina. Then, they got star freshman Nick Smith back for Mississippi State. All the momentum was going Arkansas’ way. But, the addition of Smith didn’t make much difference, and the streaking Bulldogs were able to win as road underdogs against the Hogs. It seems as if every step forward for Arkansas is another step back, and they’ve been treading water for a while now. Every time it looks like they’re getting ready to turn a corner, they stop and freeze up. Right now, they’re consistently being seeded at the 8-9 line in brackets, which is not where they wanted to be entering the season. Maybe getting Smith back will truly transform the team, but time will tell. 

Against Kentucky, a team effort really pounded the ‘Cats into submission. Makhel Mitchell ended up with 5 blocks, Devo Davis tossed out 7 assists, and Ricky Council IV led the way with 20 points. Arkansas went 4-for-9 from three-point territory, much higher than their normal percentage.

However, against Mississippi State, Arkansas allowed the 355th-ranked 3PT-shooting team in the nation to shoot 60% from beyond the arc, while shooting just 22% on their own attempts from outside. Getting outshot by Mississippi State will never result in good things happening, and a 70-64 loss was actually closer than the stats would suggest. 

Looking to this week, the Hogs have crucial matchups against Texas A&M and Florida. They have to travel to College Station but will be hosting Florida. They’ve already beaten Texas A&M, and that should be a very good game. I don’t know how well Arkansas will match up with Colin Castleton, however. As a reminder, even though Smith is back, Trevon Brazile is out for the whole season. 

7) Vanderbilt Commodores

Last week’s ranking: 11 (+4)

Record: 13-12 (6-6)

Last week: #6 Tennessee (W) 66-65, @ Florida (W) 88-80

Next week: @ South Carolina (Feb. 14 – 6:30 p.m.), Auburn (Feb. 18 – 8:30 p.m.)

Best wins: Tennessee, Arkansas, Pittsburgh, @ Florida, @ Temple

Worst losses: Grambling State

Current Tournament Position: OUT

Vanderbilt, round of applause. You’ve earned more than golf claps this week, real claps are in order. Starting with a buzzer-beater over rival Tennessee, and finishing with a road victory over Florida, this was a dream week for Jerry Stackhouse’s squad. I doubted you, Vandy. Last week, I referenced how good of a start they had gotten off to in the conference, surely to try and soften the blow of two inevitable tough losses to Tennessee and Florida. 

But no, Vanderbilt had other plans. An absolutely *brilliant* play call from Stackhouse led to a wide-open Tyrin Lawrence in the corner down two against Tennessee. And Lawrence didn’t miss his shot. Vanderbilt stormed the court and got fined $250,000, which I would totally pay myself if I could, but I’m an amateur college basketball writer and cannot afford it.

The next game against Florida was a classic Liam Robbins masterclass (who was named SEC Player of the Week,) with the center going for 32 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks. The rest of the team did their part, too, with Trey Thomas going 4-for-5 from behind the arc and Colin Smith shooting 2-of-3 from downtown. An 88-80 win was much deserved, as the defense held Florida to just 2-of-20 from behind the arc. 

Looking ahead, the Commodores play South Carolina on the road and host Auburn to end the week. Both of those games, with the way Vanderbilt has been playing, are winnable. Is it too early to speak a Vanderbilt bubble-bid into existence? It is, but I won’t admit it.  

8) Auburn Tigers

Last week’s ranking: 8 (-)

Record: 17-8 (7-5)

Last week: @ Texas A&M (L) 78-83, #3 Alabama (L) 69-77

Next week: Missouri (Feb. 14 – 7 p.m.), @ Vanderbilt (Feb. 18 – 8:30 p.m.)

Best wins: Northwestern, Arkansas, Saint Louis, Florida

Worst losses: N/A

Current Tournament Position: 7 seed (Waldo’s Watchlist), 8 seed (Making The Madness, Matty Brackets) 9 seed (CBS Sports, ESPN

Auburn, I don’t want to jinx anything, but y’all have to get your act together before the NIT starts calling. This certainly isn’t a do-or-die week, but after two missed Quad 1 wins last week against Texas A&M and Alabama, the Tigers have lost five of their last six games. The road isn’t getting any easier, either, and Auburn’s best win right now is a 43-42 victory over Northwestern. Auburn played Texas A&M and Alabama close, but two close losses and two blowout losses are, at the end of the day, still just the same: two losses. On the bright side, an Auburn student totally nailed a 94-foot putt at halftime to win a car. Congrats, whoever you are. 

Wendell Green Jr. scored 20 against Texas A&M and 24 against Alabama, but the rest of the team wasn’t great. Against Texas A&M, Auburn committed 27 fouls, allowing the Aggies to go to the line 39 times for a 31-of-39 clip. Auburn, meanwhile, went 9-of-14 from the line. In a five-point game, that discrepancy is a game-changer. But don’t think I’m here to blame the refs or claim they’re the reason Auburn’s in a slump. I can guarantee you that is not the case. I am suggesting Auburn could just not foul their opponent. Novel idea, I know, but they’re averaging over 19 fouls per game. That’s 321st in the country. 

Looking ahead, they’ve got a very crucial home date against Mizzou at Neville on Valentine’s Day. A win would likely be the best by the (Auburn) Tigers all year and could mean a lot on Selection Sunday. Auburn then travels to Nashville to play a very hot Vanderbilt team. This could be a tough week for Auburn. 

9) Kentucky Wildcats

Last week’s ranking: 3 (-6)

Record: 16-9 (7-5)

Last week: Arkansas (L) 73-88, @ Georgia (L) 68-75

Next week: @ Mississippi State (Feb. 15 – 8:30 p.m.),  #10 Tennessee (Feb. 18 – 1 p.m.)

Best wins: @ Tennessee, Texas A&M, Michigan, Florida

Worst losses: South Carolina, @ Georgia

Current Tournament Position: 11 seed (Matty Brackets) Last 4 In (Waldo’s Watchlist, ESPN), First 4 Out (CBS Sports, Making The Madness)

What a difference a week can make. Kentucky stood at #3 in these rankings last week. I remember typing that. It feels like eons ago.  Texas Longhorn coaching rumors ago. A two-loss week to Arkansas and Georgia ago. A bubble hope ago, perhaps? It feels long, sure, but it’s just been one week. However, it’s been *202* weeks since Kentucky’s won an NCAA Tournament game, and it might be another season before they have a chance to change that unless they clean up their on-court product. The leading scorer from that last win? Tyler Herro, who’s now in the midst of his fourth NBA season. 

The loss to Arkansas was tough, especially considering the Razorbacks were coming off a 2-point victory over then-cellar-dweller South Carolina. Arkansas shot 63% from the field, which is, if you’re Kentucky, almost impossible to win against. Oscar Tshiebwe scored just 7 points and collected 7 rebounds, not exactly a blueprint to win.

But if Arkansas was a tough pill to swallow, the Georgia loss was a pill that couldn’t be swallowed, if you catch my drift. While Tshiebwe bounced back with a 20-point, 14-rebound mark, the team could not stop fouling the ‘Dawgs, sending them to the line 29 times, of which Georgia made 25. Four Wildcats ended the game with four fouls, and only eight players saw action the entire game. One would think John Calipari could spare some depth against Georgia to alleviate foul trouble, but maybe he’s saving his players for when they arrive in Austin. Ok, I’ll stop, but I’ll only walk that back once coach Cal actually walks onto the court in Lexington next year. 

This week, it’s another hard slate for the Wildcats, as they play a road game against a streaking Mississippi State team then come back to Rupp to host #10 Tennessee, who, to their credit, the Wildcats have already beaten. Kentucky needs to win at least one of those games to stay in the bubble picture. The good news is that both games would count as a Quad 1 win if the Wildcats do pull it out. 

10) Florida Gators

Last week’s ranking: 5 (-5)

Record: 13-12 (6-6)

Last week: @ #3 Alabama (L) 69-97, Vanderbilt (L) 80-88

Next week: Ole Miss (Feb. 15 – 6:30 p.m.), @ Arkansas (Feb. 18 – 2 p.m.)

Best wins: Tennessee, Missouri, @ Mississippi State

Worst losses: Vanderbilt

Current Tournament Position: Next Four Out (ESPN, Waldo’s Watchlist) OUT (CBS Sports, Matty Brackets, Making The Madness)

Tough. Very tough. Déjà vu, Gators? After playing themselves off the bubble last year, playing themselves back onto the bubble, then subsequently losing in the first round of the SEC Tournament and off the bubble for the second time, the Gators are working their magic again. In the blink of an eye, the Gators are making their tournament chances disappear from thin air. Moving to 13-9 after a win over then #2 Tennessee, the Gators had been mocked as high as First 4 Out in some brackets.

That momentum is gone after a loss to Kentucky two weeks ago and losses against Alabama and Vanderbilt last week. Alabama is an excusable loss, given their #1 ranking, but a home loss to Vanderbilt, 88-80, will sting on Selection Sunday. Even if Vanderbilt improbably runs the table and doesn’t lose a single game the rest of the season, the whole “losing to Vanderbilt at home” premise is something the entire SEC usually feels embarrassed to achieve. Congrats Vandy, but you’re still Vandy at the end of the day. Florida knows that, and they’re hurting. I know that too, and that’s why Florida slips all the way from #5 down to double digits in the SEC Power Rankings. 

Against Alabama, the Gators got out-physicaled and allowed Alabama to collect 15 threes. Nothing out of the ordinary for Alabama, actually.

Colin Castleton actually had a very good game against Vanderbilt, going for 25 points and 11 rebounds, but it was overshadowed by one key team stat: 3P%. Vanderbilt went 12-for-23 from beyond the arc, including 4-for-5 from Trey Thomas. Florida, on the other hand, went 2-for-20. That’s a 10% clip. Kowacie Reeves was the only Gator to hit a three, going 2-for-8 from three-point territory. Excluding Reeves, the rest of the Gators went 0-for-12 from distance. That’s inexcusable for an SEC basketball team, especially one that came in with tournament hopes. 

This week, Florida has a very winnable home game against Ole Miss before traveling to Fayetteville to play Arkansas. 2-0 is certainly possible, but with the way the Gators’ defense has been slipping recently, 1-1 is more likely.

11) Georgia Bulldogs

Last week’s ranking: 10 (-1)

Record: 15-10 (5-7)

Last week: Ole Miss (L) 74-78, Kentucky (W) 75-68

Next week: LSU (Feb. 14 – 8:30 p.m.), @ #1 Alabama (Feb. 18 – 6 p.m.)

Best wins: Auburn, Kentucky, Mississippi State

Worst losses: @ Georgia Tech, Ole Miss

Current Tournament Position: OUT

Georgia beats Kentucky, and drops a spot in the SEC Basketball Power Rankings. Does it make sense? No? Then someone should have let the Bulldogs know they should’ve beaten Ole Miss at home days prior. (The sudden ascension of Vanderbilt also had something to do with the mini-tumble.) But as a college basketball fan who roots for chaos when his dog isn’t in the fight, I thoroughly enjoyed Georgia defeating Kentucky. Good job, Bulldogs. Nothing I can do about the Ole Miss upset, but congrats nonetheless.

Breaking down the first game against the Rebels, both teams had an off-night from beyond the arc, with the two teams combining for a 7-of-39 rate from three-point territory. However, Georgia and Ole Miss shot 52-for-79 from 2-point range, and both teams had 27 free throw attempts. Big men were the stars of the game for both teams, with Braelen Bridges having a career game for Georgia. Bridges finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to offset 44 combined points from Jaemyn Brakefield and Myles Burns for Ole Miss. In what turned out to be a 4-point loss, just a couple of threes falling for Georgia could have been the difference.

Against Kentucky, the Bulldogs were able to get to the line early and often, going 25-of-29 from the free-throw line. Kario Oquendo led the team with 21 points, and he went 10-of-12 from the stripe. Justin Hill went a perfect 6-for-6 from the line, and he finished with 15 points. Oscar Tshiebwe still had a 20-point, 14-rebound performance, but he finished with 4 fouls, as did three other Wildcats. Getting Kentucky in foul trouble allowed the Bulldogs to escape with a much-needed win.

This week, Georgia plays LSU at home in what seems to be a very winnable game, but then has to turn around and play Alabama on the road in Tuscaloosa. Good luck, Dawgs. (Mississippi State is officially the ‘Dawgs right now, but Georgia needs all the luck they can get. Remember, I’m rooting for chaos here.)

12) South Carolina Gamecocks

Last week’s ranking: 14 (+2)

Record: 9-16 (2-10)

Last week: @ Missouri (L) 74-83, @ Ole Miss (W) 64-61

Next week: Vanderbilt (Feb. 14 – 6:30 p.m.), @ LSU (Feb. 18 – 1 p.m.)

Best wins: @ Kentucky, Clemson, Western Kentucky

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

Current Tournament Position: OUT

South Carolina. Enjoy a nice, long breath of fresh air. After being in the cellar for the past three weeks, the ‘Cocks were able to grab a nice win over Ole Miss in Oxford after putting up a nice fight in the other Columbia against Missouri. Freshman GG Jackson came off the bench for both games following internal discipline because of an IG Live rant following the Arkansas game two weeks ago. However, despite the benching, the team still played well when Jackson wasn’t on the court, using big games from Hayden Brown and Jacobi Wright to burn Mizzou and Ole Miss on defense. While Jackson did not start the game against Missouri, it is important to note he still garnered 27 minutes off the bench and scored 23 points. 

Against Missouri, the ‘Cocks were within three points with just over six minutes to go, but big games from Kobe Brown and Sean East II prevented Carolina from retaking the lead. Jackson led them with 23 points, and Brown and Wright both scored in double figures as well. Even though the team shot 52% from the field and 36% from three-point range, Mizzou shot 48% from deep, the difference-maker in a closer-than-expected contest.

The Gamecocks’ good shooting didn’t quite cool off in Oxford, where they shot the exact same mark from beyond the arc as they did against Mizzou: 9-for-25. (36%.) Jackson came off the bench for the second straight game, but Wright, Chico Carter, and Brown all hit multiple threes in a strong performance from the rest of the ‘Cocks. Wright led the way with a career-high 17 points, Brown contributed 18, and Josh Gray tallied a game-high 13 rebounds, his third double-digit rebound mark in his last four games. It was a team effort, and the best showing from South Carolina since the road upset over Kentucky.

As for the Jackson benching, he just turned 18 years old. While that may be a lame excuse, having the college basketball media scope on a person who should be a senior in high school creates very little margin for error on that front. He’ll learn, just like every other player has to at some point. Kudos to Lamont Paris for coaching the team to a road win while letting Jackson ride the bench. 

Looking ahead, the Gamecocks have a home date with a streaking Vanderbilt team on Valentine’s Day before traveling to Baton Rouge to take on new cellar-dweller LSU. South Carolina already took Vandy to OT in Nashville, and it’s not out of the question for the Gamecocks to go 2-0 this week. It may seem foolish to say a team sitting at 9-16 has any type of momentum, but they certainly have more than LSU does at the moment. They’ve looked much improved over the past month. 

13) Ole Miss Rebels

Last week’s ranking: 13 (+0)

Record: 10-15 (2-10)

Last week: @ Georgia (W) 78-74, South Carolina (L) 61-64

Next week: @ Florida (Feb. 15 – 6:30 p.m.), Mississippi State (Feb. 18 – 3:30 p.m.)

Best wins: Florida Atlantic, Temple, @ Georgia

Worst losses: North Alabama, Vanderbilt

Current Tournament Position: OUT

Ole Miss picked up a nice little conference win early in the week over a Georgia team that went out and beat Kentucky in their next game, but fell back to Earth, or rather Oxford, with a home loss to 8-16 South Carolina. LSU failed to win a game this week, (again) so they fall behind Ole Miss, but South Carolina’s win over Ole Miss vaults them above the Rebels. That means, despite the Georgia win, Ole Miss stays stagnant in the SEC Basketball Power Rankings. Despite some internal movement this week, the bottom three remain the same three teams for the fourth week in a row. 

Against Georgia, the Rebels were propelled by 24 points from Jaemyn Brakefield and 20 from Myles Burns. The duo combined for a 17-of-26 mark from the field, good for a 65% rate. Even with Matt Murrell shooting 2-for-11, the Rebels were able to grab a win from a superior opponent on the road, a win that could’ve sparked a mini two-game winning streak, but Ole Miss could not sustain their momentum.

Even though the Rebels had already defeated South Carolina in Columbia, they couldn’t do the same in Oxford. Murrell struggled from the field again, going 2-of-9 and finishing with 8 points, but Tye Fagan came off the bench to lead the team with 17 points on 4-of-7 from the field and 8-of-10 from the line. The two teams were pretty evenly matched, but the ‘Cocks had a slight, going 9-for-25 from beyond the arc compared to Ole Miss’s 6-for-23 mark. In a game decided by three points, that made all the difference. 

Looking ahead, Ole Miss has a road test against a Florida team that’s lost three games in a row before the Rebels play host to Mississippi State. The Bulldogs already beat their rivals in Starkville earlier this season, and Ole Miss will have to try their best to salvage a 1-1 split with State. It’s certainly a difficult week for the Rebels, and I have difficulty picking a win for them in the next seven days. 

14) LSU Tigers

Last week’s ranking: 12 (-2)

Record: 12-13 (1-11)

Last week: @ Mississippi State (L) 53-64, Texas A&M (L) 62-74

Next week: @ Georgia (Feb. 14 – 8:30 p.m.), South Carolina (Feb. 18 – 1 p.m.)

Best wins: Arkansas, Wake Forest, Wofford

Worst losses: Texas Tech

Current Tournament Position: OUT

After weeks of tumbling down, welcome to the cellar, LSU. Hopefully, you won’t have to stay long. But, to be honest, it might be a while. With their losses to Mississippi State and Texas A&M last week, they’ve gone 0-12 in their last 12 games and haven’t won since 2022. It’s February 14th. 10 of those 12 losses have been by double digits.

They showed a bit of fight against Texas A&M, scratching back from 29 down in the first half to just an 8-point deficit with 4 minutes to go. It was too little, too late, however, and the Tigers could not complete the comeback. Texas A&M was able to shoot 50% from three-point range, not exactly a recipe to snap a losing streak for LSU. Against Mississippi State, LSU allowed the Bulldogs to hit 52% of their shots from the field, even though the Bulldogs are 278th in the nation in FG%. (42.2%.) On the bright side, freshman Tyrell Ward had a great game against Texas A&M. Entering the game with a 1.9 PPG average, Ward shot 5-of-9 from the field and ended up with a career-high 15 points.

This week, the Tigers travel to Athens to play Georgia before coming back home to host South Carolina. While it’s technically two games against two teams with below .500 conference records, I have a hard time putting any type of trust into Matt McMahon’s squad right now. The Tigers falling to 12-15, (1-13) is a distinct possibility.