SEC Power Rankings (01/25/21): Alabama still league unbeaten, Missouri tops Tennessee, more

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LITTLE ROCK — My weekly SEC Power Rankings (01/25/2021): No. 18 Alabama remained unscathed as the lone league unbeaten while No. 19 Missouri exacted revenge on No. 6 Tennessee last week. Meanwhile, Florida, Arkansas, and Ole Miss swept the week to move up while LSU and the Vols both inexplicably went 0-fer as the Nos. 3-9 teams according to the league standings are now separated by no more than one game in the loss column.

1. Alabama (13-3, 8-0 SEC) … NCAA NET ranking No. 9 … the Tide started with a 30-point road win (105-75) in the mid-week game against LSU — giving them back-to-back 30-points-or-more winning margins when including Arkansas (90-59 on Jan. 16) — but ‘Bama came back down to earth over the weekend with a modest 81-73 home victory over Mississippi State … ‘Bama’s 3-game is the best in the SEC as evidenced by the Tide’s record-setting 23-of-43 shooting from 3 at LSU … John Petty, Jr., Jaden Shackelford, Herbert Jones, Joshua Primo, and Jahvon Quinerly comprise the most elite backcourt in the league as they combined for 33 triples and 148 points in the two wins … apparently, the loss of senior big man Jordan Bruner (meniscus injury, out 4-6 weeks) has not had a negative impact … ‘Bama hosts Kentucky on Tuesday before playing at Oklahoma in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday … previous ranking: tie No. 1. 

2. Missouri (10-2, 4-2 SEC) … NCAA NET ranking No. 23 … the Tigers went 2-0 last week — 81-70 at home over South Carolina before a 73-64 road win over Tennessee that avenged a 20-point home loss against the Vols in the league opener at the end of December … veteran guards Xavier Pinson and Dru Smith combined for 45 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists in the win over Tennesse, while senior big man Jeremiah Tilmon led the way with 19 points and 10 rebounds in the win over the Gamecocks … the win over the Vols allowed the Tigers to improve to an impressive 5-1 record away from home … Mizzou will play at Auburn on Tuesday before hosting TCU in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 3.

3. Tennessee (10-3, 4-3 SEC) … NCAA NET ranking No. 12 … the Vols were swept last week as they were drummed at Florida, 75-49, before coming home for a 73-64 loss against Missouri … senior big man John Fulkerson (15 points) was the only Tennessee player to score in double figures agains the Gators … meanwhile, the Vols vaunted defense gave up back-to-back games of 70-plus points, which has now happened in 4 of their last 6 games after not yielding more than 66 points in their first 7 games of the season …  the Vols will host Mississippi State on Tuesday before hosting No. 9 Kansas in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday … previous ranking: tie No. 1.

4. Florida (8-4, 5-3 SEC) … NCAA NET ranking No. 26 … the Gators went 2-0 last week with a dominating 75-49 home win over Tennessee followed by a 92-84 road win over Georgia … Florida had been mediocre since the loss of preseason SEC Player of the Year Keyontae Johnson as well as the recent absence of guard Scottie Lewis, but the Gators have benefitted from the recent play of a trio of guards in Tre Mann, Noah Locke, and Tyree Appleby (of Jacksonville, Ark.), who combined for 93 points, 22 rebounds, and 20 assists in the 2 wins … the Gators host Vanderbilt on Wednesday before playing at No. 14 West Virginia in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 6.

5. LSU (10-4, 5-3 SEC) … NCAA NET ranking No. 35 … the Tigers were clobbered in both games last week — 105-75 at home against ‘Bama and 82-69 on the road against Kentucky … a disappointing far cry for an LSU team the entered last weel only 10 points away from beaing unbeaten as two 4-point road losses (St. Louis and Florida) served as the only previous blemishes on the Tigers resume … sophomore forwad Trendon Watford was the only bright spot for the Tigers as he managed 26 points and 10 rebounds against the ‘Cats, but guards Cam Thomas and Javonte Smart suffered back-to-back off shooting nights in the two losses as junior forward Darius Days also had two poor outings … the Tigers play at Texas A&M on Tuesday before hosting No. 12 Texas Tech in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 4.

6. Arkansas (12-4, 4-4 SEC) … NCAA NET ranking No. 32 … the Hogs were looking at 3 consecutive losses (and their 5th defeat in 6 games) when they fell behind Auburn by 19 points at home on Wednesday, but a big second half comeback resulted in a 75-73 victory that was followed by a 92-71 road win over league-winless Vanderbilt on Saturday … now, Arkansas has strung together back-to-back wins for the first time in league play … junior Desi Sills and freshmen Jaylin Williams and Davont “Devo” Davis saved the day as the Hogs earned a season sweep over Auburn, and star freshman Moses Moody led the way with game-highs of 26 points and 8 rebounds in the road win over the Commodores … one thing Arkansas has shown through 8 league games is that it has mostly played poorly against the top-tier teams while taking care of business against the bottom-tier squads … the Razorbacks host Ole Miss on Wednesday before going back on the road to play Oklahoma State in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday … previous ranking: tie No. 8.

tie 7. Kentucky (5-9, 4-3 SEC) … NCAA NET ranking No. 82 … the Wildcats were oh-so close to sweeping the week but a last-second layin by Georgia handed Kenutcky a 63-62 mid-week road loss before Big Blue came home for an impressive 82-69 win over LSU that stands as the team’s best victory of the season … guards Brandon Boston, Jr., and Davion Mintz combined for 29 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists in the win over LSU, while frontliners Keion Brooks, Jr., and Olivier Sarr had a collective 28 points and 14 rebounds in the same game … after a 1-6 start to the season, Kentucky has managed to bob along thus far in league play to stay a game above .500 … the ‘Cats play at No. 18 Alabama on Tuesday before hosting No. 5 Texas in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday … previous ranking: tie No. 8.

tie 7. Auburn (9-7, 3-5 SEC) … NCAA NET ranking No. 64 … the young Tigers followed up a 75-73 road loss against Arkansas with a convincing 109-86 road win over South Carolina … Auburn has won 3 of its last 4 games after starting league play 0-4, and much of the recent success is due to star freshman guard Sharife Cooper, who is averaging 21.2 points, 9.0 assists, and 4.4 rebounds after joining the team 5 games ago … sophomore wing Allen Flanigan of Little Rock is having an all-league season as he is averaging 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game … talented freshman guard Justin Powell (concussion protocol) has been out of the lineup for 2 weeks … the Tigers host No. 19 Missouri on Tuesday before playing at No. 2 and undefeated Baylor in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 10.

9. Ole Miss (8-6, 3-4 SEC) … NCAA NET ranking No. 65 … OM went 2-0 with double-digit wins last week — 64-46 at in-state rival Mississippi State and 61-50 at home against Texas A&M on Saturday … all of a sudden, OM’s defense has bowed up by allowing 50 or fewer points in back-to-back games … star senior guard Devontae Shuler averaged 19.5 points in the two wins while explosive transfer guard Jarkel Joiner averaged 16.5 points and 6.0 rebounds … Ole Miss plays at Arkansas on Wednesday and at Georgia on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 13.

10. Mississippi State (9-7, 4-4 SEC) … NCAA NET ranking No. 94 … the ‘Dogs were the early talk of league play but have since lost 3 of their last 4 games, including going 0-2 last week with in-state rival Ole Miss beating them at home by 18 points before a respectable road loss by 8 points at Alabama … star guards DJ Stewart and Iverson Molinar managed to combine for only 25 points in the loss to Ole Miss, but the backcourt duo bounced back for a combined 48 points against the Tide … transfer forward Tolu Smith continues to be a scoring and rebouding double-threat for MSU … the Bulldogs will play at No. 6 Tennessee on Tuesday before hosting Iowa State in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 5.

11. Georgia (9-5, 2-5 SEC) … NCAA NET ranking No. 102 … thanks to a PJ Horne layin off an inbounds play with 1.3 seconds left the Bulldogs defeated Kentucky at home, 63-62, before  losing by 8 points at home, 92-84, against Florida on Saturday … picked up their first league win at Ole Miss, 78-74, on Saturday after getting drummed at home by Auburn, 95-77, in their mid-week game … talented freshman guard K.D. Johnson averaged 13.0 points off the bench in the two games and is averaging 15.3 points per game since joining the team 4 games ago … sophomores Toumani Camara and Sahvir Wheeler continue to give the ‘Dogs a chance to turn things around in league play … Georgia will play at South Carolina on Wednesday before hosting Ole Miss on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 12.

12. South Carolina (3-5, 1-3 SEC) … NCAA NET ranking No. 108 … the Gamecocks lost both games last week — 81-70 at Missouri and 109-86 at home against Auburn –as they’ve now dropped 3 consecutive games … Carolina may have a small sample size of games compared to the rest of the league’s members, but the Gamecocks have been on the court enough to prove that versatile junior wings AJ Lawson and Keyshawn Bryant are forces to be reckoned with as the duo combined for 47 points in the loss against Auburn … Carolina hosts Georgia on Wednesday before playing at Vanderbilt on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 7.

13. Texas A&M (7-6, 2-5 SEC) … NCAA NET ranking No. 139 … the Aggies had a rough week as they struggled to score the basketball in ugly losses against Missouri (68-52) and Ole Miss (61-50) … sophomore forward Emanuel Miller averaged 13.5 points and 10.0 rebounds in the two losses as he continues to be a consistent bright spot for Buzz Williams’ second Aggies squad, which has lost 4 of its last 5 games … A&M hosts LSU on Tuesday before playing at Kansas State in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday … previous ranking: tie No. 11.

14. Vanderbilt (4-7, 0-5 SEC) … NCAA NET ranking No. 192 … the Commordores played only once last week — an uninspiring 92-71 home loss against Arkansas in a game the ‘Dores competed without three scholarship players, including second leading scorer and leading rebounder Dylan Disu (13.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game)  … sophomore guard Scotty Pippen, Jr., is having an all-league season (20.6 points and 5.3 assists per game) but was held 6 points below his scoring average against the Hogs … things are getting ugly in Nashville as reports surfaced over the weekend that head coach Jerry Stackhouse Twitter-blocked multiple media members follwing the Arkansas loss … the ‘Dores are set to play at Florida on Wednesday before hosting South Carolina on Saturday …previous ranking: No. 14.

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