Arkansas was the big noise-maker in the SEC this week, and while they did their part in following up their road win at South Carolina with a blowout over Ole Miss, the Gamecocks have started their traditional late season slide. It bodes well for an Arkansas team that would be glad for a 4th or maybe even 3rd place finish in the SEC, it hurts the conference as a whole when a top 25 team fades down the stretch.
1) Florida (22-5, 12-2, RPI: 10) - Florida won 2 wildly different games this week. Playing in Auburn on Valentine’s Day, the Gators lost center Egbunu to a season-ending ACL injury, but went on to score 114 points in a game where the teams combined for 132 shot attempts. 113 shot attempts for both teams in Starkville on Saturday would likely be cause for another high scoring game, but Florida only shot 38% from the field scoring half the points, 57, that they had scored earlier in the week. Florida plays South Carolina and Kentucky this week. Yikes.
2) Kentucky (22-5, 12-2, RPI: 8) - Remember when Tennessee beat Kentucky at home? When the Wildcats hosted the Vols this week, it’s pretty obvious they remembered, too. Kentucky won easily 83-58. Remember when Kentucky needed overtime to beat Georgia in Lexington a few weeks ago? They didn’t have Fox for that game, and they used him repeatedly down the stretch to beat Georgia in Athens.
3) South Carolina (20-7, 10-4, RPI: 30) - South Carolina has lost 3 of its last 4 games, and they play Florida and Tennessee this week. Frank Martin is trying to talk up the SEC as much as possible right now. Last year, the Gamecocks looked clearly in the NCAA Tournament at 21-3, but went 3-4 to finish the regular season with a one-and-done loss in the SEC tournament to bump them down to the NIT.
4) Arkansas (20-7, 9-5, RPI: 33) - South Carolina had only won one more game than the Hogs when they played on Tuesday, but you couldn’t convince me that the Hogs would win on the road, especially when they went down early in the 1st half. The road warrior Hog team proved me wrong and is now 7-4 away from Bud Walton Arena. Not only did they get that big “signature” win this week, but they held serve by almost putting 100 points on Ole Miss. The Hogs will have to wait a week to make more noise with Texas A&M and Auburn on the schedule for this week.
5) Alabama (16-10, 9-5, RPI: 74) - Alabama got to play the SEC on “Easy Mode” this week, though Missouri has been a more difficult win recently.
6) Tennessee (15-12, 7-7, RPI: 50) - Blown out on the road at Kentucky. Blow out win at home over Mizzou. The win over Mizzou isn’t big in the big picture, but Tennessee has seen big leads slip away a few times this season, so it was good for them to keep it for the win.
7) Georgia (15-12, 6-8, RPI: 59) - Georgia just finished what was probably the toughest 6-game stretch of any team in the SEC this season and they went 2-4. They lost all 4 games to Florida, Kentucky, and South Carolina and they lost Yante Maten (SEC’s 3rd leading scorer) indefinitely. Mark Fox will probably be complaining about this scheduling at the end of the season.
8) Vanderbilt (14-13, 7-7, RPI: 49) - In each of the last 4 weeks, Vanderbilt has gotten a top 50 RPI win. This would be huge if they hadn’t lost 10 games before that, and if they didn’t add in a loss to Missouri. I’m starting to think Vanderbilt might be more good than weird.
9) Ole Miss (16-11, 7-7, RPI: 71) - The Rebel Black Bears ran into Arkansas at the worst time. The Rebels remain consistently mediocre under head coach Andy Kennedy.
10) Texas A&M (14-12, 6-8, RPI: 95) - Despite losing DJ Hogg, the Aggies are playing some decent ball right now. They were able to beat Auburn using a big first half which was important for them to do after getting edged out by Vanderbilt on the road.
11) Auburn (16-11, 5-9, RPI: 85) - Auburn lost twice this week. Scoring 95 against Florida is a moral victory, I guess... when you don’t let them score 114. Juicy Bruicy never missed the NCAA tournament at Tennessee, but is about to miss it for the 3rd year in Auburn.
12) Mississippi State (14-12, 5-9, RPI: 130) - Mississippi State has lost its last four games by an average score of 5.5 points, all to teams that are in the top 100 RPI. But you know what they say, “Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades”.
13) Missouri (7-19, 2-12, RPI: 249) - Mizzou had some life in the last set of rankings after notching wins over Arkansas and Vanderbilt. They’re back to normal this week despite a close loss at home against Alabama they got blown out at Tennessee.
14) LSU (9-17, 1-13, RPI: 157) - 13-game losing streak. When they started SEC play, they were 8-4. If Johnny Jones ever gets a head coaching gig again, I will be shocked.