SEC Power Rankings (2/2/20): LSU rules the kingdom/on pace for B2B league crowns

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My SEC Power Rankings (2/2/20): LSU’s run through the SEC is reminiscent of last season as the Tigers are on track for back-to-back league titles. Auburn has surged again, while Kentucky rounds out the top 3 with a cluster of seven teams jostling for “next” in the league pecking order.

1. LSU (17-4, 8-0 SEC) … No. 21 NCAA NET … following 6 consecutive close league wins by an average margin of 2.5 points, the Tigers swept two home games last week by an average margin of 12.0 ponts  — 90-76 aginast Alabama and 73-63 against Ole Miss … senior guard Skylar Mays is among a handful of players who are out front in the SEC Player of the Year discussion … counting all 18 SEC regular-season games from a season ago, the defending league champs have won 24 of their last 26 regular-season SEC games … LSU is back on the road for a couple of games whis week — at Vanderbilt on Wednesday before a Nos. 1-2 SEC showdown at Auburn on Saturday …previous ranking: tie No. 1.

2. Auburn (19-2, 6-2 SEC) … No. 19 NCAA NET … the Tigers have bounced back from consecutive blowout losses two weeks ago with 4 straight wins, including Saturday’s impressive 75-66 home win over Kenutcky that followed a come-from-behind 83-82 overtime win at Ole Miss in the mid-week after the Rebels held a 19-point lead … senior guard Samir Doughty made 14-of-15 free throws as part of his 23 points in the win over KU, while big man Austin Wiley recorded a double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds) … Auburn goes on the road to play Arkansas on Tuesday before coming home to host LSU on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 3.

3. Kentucky (16-5, 6-2 SEC) … No. 27 NCAA NET … the ‘Cats had won four games in a row, including a subpar 71-62 triumph over Vanderbilt on Wednesday, before falling at Auburn, 75-66, on Saturday … guards Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, and Tyrese Maxey are so good at both ends, and big man Nick Richards has been a force as UK moved into league play … the Wildcats host Mississippi State on Wednesday before playing at Tennessee on Saturday … previous ranking: tie No. 1.

tie 4. Arkansas (16-5, 4-4 SEC) … No. 34 NCAA NET … the Hogs split last week, losing 79-77 at home against South Carolina before winning on the road, 82-78, against Alabama on Saturday in picking up their second “Quad-1” win of the season … the SEC’s leading scorer, Mason Jones, is in SEC POY talks as he had back-to-back 30-points-or-more games for the first time at Arkansas since 2002, while Jimmy Whitt, Jr. (26 points), Jalen Harris (11 points, including 5 in a row that gave the Hogs the lead for good late against ‘Bama), and Reggie Chaney (8 points and a career-high-matching 11 rebounds) all stepped up in support as the Razorbacks snapped a 3-game SEC losing streak … Arkansas hosts Auburn on Tuesday before traveling to Columbia, Mo., to play Missouri on Saturday … previous ranking: tie No. 4.

tie 4. Mississippi State (14-7, 5-3 SEC) … No. 39 NCAA NET … the Bulldogs have won 5 of their last 6 games, including 5 in a row in league play sandwiched around a narrow road loss against Oklahoma in the Big 12/SEC Challenge … four of those five wins were earned at home, but the ‘Dogs won at Florida, 78-71, in the mid-week before handling Tennessee at home, 86-73 … sophomore forward Reggie Perry (6-10, 250) is the only SEC player averaging a double-double and is on the short list for SEC POY talk … league games this week are at Kentucky on Tuesday and home against Vanderbilt on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 8.

tie 4. South Carolina (13-8, 5-3 SEC) … No. 75 NCAA NET … the Gamecocks swept two gams last week, getting a Quad-1 win at Arkansas, 79-77, before blowing out Missouri, 76-54, on Saturday … sophomore A.J. Lawson scored a combined 32 points in the two wins for a USC-E team that has won 5 of its last 6 contests … 6-11 big man Maik Kotsar had a double-double — 21 points and 11 rebounds — in Carolina’s win over Missouri … South Carolina is 5-2 in true road games with all of those wins coming against high-major competition … league games this week are at Ole Miss on Wednesday and home against Texas A&M on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 9.

tie 4. Florida (13-8, 5-3 SEC) … No. 41 NCAA NET … the Gators have lost 3 out of their last 4 games, including a split last week with a 78-71 loss at home against Mississippi State on Tuesday before holding off hapless Vandy, 61-55, on the road Saturday … the Gators’ recent losses were at LSU by 2 points, against No. 1 Baylor, and a hot MSU squad, so it’s not like the sky is falling in Gainesville … still, Florida has as much talent and veteran experience as any team in the league yet has been inconsistent all season long … league games this week are home against Georgia on Wednesday and at Ole Miss on Saturday … previous ranking: tie No. 4.

8. Alabama (12-9, 4-4 SEC) … No. 42 NCAA NET … the Tide were swept last week — 90-76 at LSU and 82-78 against Arkansas — after enjoying a 4-game winning streak … the Hogs put the clamps on star guards Kira Lewis and John Petty, Jr., who combined for only 20 points — 12.5 points below their collective season average — on Saturday … league games this week are home against Tennessee on Tuesday and on the road against Georgia on Saturday … previous ranking: tie No. 4.

9. Texas A&M (10-10, 4-4 SEC) … No. 139 NCAA NET … the Aggies split games last week, winning 63-58 at Tennessee in a mid-week game before losing 63-48 at Georgia on Saturday … senior guard Wendell Mitchell had 23 points in the triumph over the Vols, but the team’s 19-of-59 shooting performance (32.3%) was too much to overcome in the loss against the Bulldogs … given roster limitations, first-year coach Buzz Williams has seen an up-and-down season with some encouraging road wins sprinkled in … league games this week are home aginast Missouri on Tuesday and at South Carolina on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 12.

10. Tennessee (12-9, 4-4 SEC) … No. 70 NCAA NET … the Vols were swept last week, losing 63-58 at home against Texas A&M on Tuesday before losing 86-73 at Mississippi State on Saturday … freshman guard Santiago Vescovi of Uruguay is fun to watch, and he had 16 points (including 4-of-9 from 3), 5 assists, and 4 rebounds in the loss at MSU … unlike a season ago with Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield, the Vols do not have a go-to, get-it-done player in crunch time … league games this week are at Alabama on Tuesday and home against Kentucky on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 7.

11. Georgia (12-9, 2-6 SEC) … No. 90 NCAA NET … the Bulldogs split games last week — a 72-69 road loss against Missouri on Tuesday before a 63-48 win at home over Texas A&M on Saturday … freshman sensation Anthony Edwards had a pair of double-doubles last week for a combined 52 points and 25 rebounds in the two contests … potentially, Georgia could make a move toward the middle of the SEC pack in the second-half of league play … league league games this week are at Florida on Wednesday and home against Alabama on Saturday … previous ranking: tie No. 11.

tie 12. Missouri (10-11, 2-6 SEC) … No. 95 NCAA NET … the Tigers split last week, coming all the way back from 20 points down to defeat Georgia, 72-69, in the mid-week game before getting pounded at South Carolina, 76-54, on Saturday … Van Buren native and 6-10 junior forward Mitchell Smith had 12 points and a team-high 7 rebounds in the Tigers’ victory over Georgia … league games this week are at Texas A&M on Tuesday and home against Arkansas on Saturday … previous ranking: tie No. 11.

tie 12. Ole Miss (10-11, 1-7 SEC) … No. 110 NCAA NET … the Rebels were swept last week, giving up a 19-point lead at home before losing to Auburn, 83-82, in overtime followed by a 73-63 road loss against league-unbeaten LSU … senior guard Breein Tyree has been a tough customer, but the Rebels fell apart after he fouled out in regulation against Auburn … league games this week are both at home — against South Carolina on Wednesday and Florida on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 13.

14. Vanderbilt (8-13, 0-8 SEC) … No. 167 NCAA NET … Vandy battled valiantly but lost twice last week, 71-62 at Kentucky in the mid-week game after having a double-digit second-half lead followed by a 61-55 setback at home against Florida on Saturday … the Commodores are on a fast-track to a second-consecutive season of going 0-18 in league play … counting the last two SEC tournaments, Vandy has lost 28 consecutive games against league opponents dating back to the 2017-18 season … league games this week are home against LSU on Wednesday and on the road against Mississippi State on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 14.

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