SEC Power Rankings: Week ThreePosted by KAlmekinder on December 5th, 2012
Every week, the SEC microsite will post a composite power ranking list for the league’s performances coupled with a short commentary justifying each team’s specific ranking. Week Three’s SEC Power Rankings:
- Florida – The Gators just keep winning with one key reason: an evenly spread, highly efficient offense. Of the two marquee match-ups Florida has had so far this season, they have won against then-#22 Wisconsin by 18 points, and most recently, against a regularly tough Marquette squad, 82-49. The Gators are averaging nearly 74 points a game on 47% shooting (36% from beyond the arc). In the win over the Golden Eagles last week, six Gators, including three off the bench, posted double figure points while shooting over 50% from the field. Florida’s chemistry and rhythm has led them to the top of the SEC Power Rankings and a top six ranking in the national polls.
- Missouri – With most of the attention involving Missouri is focused on Michael Dixon leaving the team, the Tigers have been able to focus on winning with their other personnel. The key to Missouri’s quick turnaround has been forward Laurence Bowers, making his presence known this year after missing last season due to injury. Bowers posted a season high 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting in the Tigers’ win over Appalachian State last Saturday, including 3-for-3 from long distance. With no other difficult match-up until the annual “Braggin’ Rights” showdown versus Illinois later this month, Missouri should remain near the top of the Power Rankings.
- Alabama – A narrow 58-56 loss to #17 Cincinnati showed Alabama’s true colors earlier this week. The Tide rallied from 13 down to only lose on a Cashmere Wright fadeaway at the buzzer. Alabama could have used another efficient night from guard Trevor Releford (5-15 shooting, only 12 points), but a loss to a ranked Cincinnati team tested Anthony Grant’s club the entire night and proved that they have the ability to rally when needed. Both Dayton (5-2) and VCU (5-3) come to Tuscaloosa in the next few weeks for another couple of solid tests for the Tide.
- Ole Miss – Ole Miss has quietly risen through the rankings because of its own success and the failures of others. Kentucky’s losses (discussed below) have paved the way for an undefeated Rebels squad to a top four position in the SEC Power Rankings. While Ole Miss’ schedule can be considered weak, they have still yet to lose a game. Ole Miss ranks second in the nation in points per game and sixth in rebounds per game. The next test, the Rebs’ first true road game at Middle Tennessee State, will show the rest of the league if they are better than people think.
- Kentucky – Kentucky made (negative) headlines on Monday as the Wildcats fell out of the AP Poll for the first time in the Calipari era. The cause for the fall? Two quick losses, one in a difficult Notre Dame environment, and the other at home versus Baylor, a team reeling from an embarrassing loss to College of Charleston (followed up by a loss to Northwestern). Both losses were not attributed to bad defense but to terrible offense by a team designed for multiple fast breaks and high scoring. Swingman and three-point threat Kyle Wiltjer has gone ice cold in his last four games, hitting only 3-of-21 from beyond the arc after hitting 7-of-11 in the Wildcats’ blowout of Lafayette. Other issues, including the glaring ongoing problem at point guard, have the Big Blue Nation extremely frustrated and worried. This could be the longest learning curve of any Kentucky team under Calipari’s tenure.
- Tennessee – Cuonzo Martin was quoted last week regarding the Vols’ upcoming game versus Georgetown, that “we expect it to be physical.” Martin got his wish as UT lost to Georgetown, 37-36, in one of the worst offensive games played this season. In Tennessee’s only two losses, both to the only power conference schools on their schedule (to date), they have averaged only 40.5 points per game. Their lack of scoring against quality opponents is worrisome; with Virginia, #24 Wichita State, Xavier, and Memphis still to come on the upcoming schedule, they better figure out a way to score before league play starts.
- Arkansas – In a former Southwest Conference showdown, the Razorbacks rebounded nicely from three straight losses to beat Oklahoma by three points earlier this week. The rather quick turnaround for Arkansas could be attributed to their tough non-conference slate; losses to Arizona State, Wisconsin, and Syracuse have helped test them early in the season. An upcoming bout at #3 Michigan will put Mike Anderson‘s team on the ropes again but they will have plenty of chances to regroup and solidify their play before SEC play starts in January.
- LSU – LSU is undefeated (6-0), but they are not gaining any of the attention that some of the more surprising SEC schools are for one simple reason — the Tigers’ schedule is really weak. Outstanding play by Shavon Coleman (17.4 PPG on 56% shooting) and Johnny O’Bryant III (12.5 PPG, 55%) have been overshadowed by LSU’s lack of a reputable opponent. Their “best” win to date has been against Seton Hall. Wins over upcoming opponents Boise State and Marquette will start putting more emphasis on Tigers basketball in Baton Rouge again.
- Texas A&M – The Aggies fall into the same category as LSU, with a lack of a top 50 KenPom win keeping them from gaining more votes in the polls. Outside of their match-up versus former Big 12 foe Oklahoma, Texas A&M does not see another top 100 KenPom team until SEC play begins. Elston Turner has provided a great scoring threat for the Aggies; he is averaging 17.1 PPG on 43% from the field and even better from outside (45%).
- South Carolina – The good news in Columbia: The football Gamecocks are going to a respectable bowl. The bad news: The basketball Gamecocks won’t get Bruce Ellington on the hardwood until the bowl game is over. Ellington was a topic of discussion between Frank Martin and football coach Steve Spurrier last week as they discussed his situation as a dual-sport athlete. As is the case with most SEC teams, football was given priority and Spurrier will have Ellington on the grass with him, practicing until the bowl game is played on January 1. Ellington contributed 19 points and four rebounds in his two appearances so far this season. A more consistent game from Ellington, as well as more scoring and help from the rest of the squad, will help ease some pain of Martin’s first year in the SEC.
- Georgia – The Bulldogs’ put up solid fights against #1 Indiana and then #11 UCLA a few weeks ago but only averaged 54.5 points per game in both outings. In the two games since, the Bulldogs have not improved much offensively, still only scoring roughly the same amount while going 1-1 in both games. It is clear that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is Mark Fox’s only scoring weapon; the sophomore is averaging more than double (17.6 PPG) what the next leading player on the team is scoring (Nemanja Djurisic, 8.3 PPG) as well as leading the team in rebounds and steals. Georgia better find another scoring option soon or get comfortable in the SEC cellar.
- Auburn – Much like Georgia’s limited offense, Auburn also has only a few players who can provide offense when the Tigers need it. Frankie Sullivan and Rob Chubb are averaging a combined 30 points per game, nearly half of the entire team’s season average. Both excel in field goal percentage, but Sullivan only stands out as Auburn’s clutch player; he has taken (and made) the highest number of free throws on the team while missing the fewest. Sullivan shines as the lone bright star in the dark Auburn basketball sky.
- Mississippi State – Starkville is becoming a place of consistent losing and bad offense. The Bulldogs have averaged only 60 points per game and have only accumulated three wins this season, all of which were against teams currently ranked 235th or worse in the KenPom rankings. An effective offensive FG% of 41.5% coupled with a turnover percentage at 26.5% puts the Bulldogs in a position to only win games when the other team is equally as bad, if not worse, than they are on a given night. While Rick Ray has had to endure a massive turnover of players and staff, this steep fall from last year’s talent level was not expected.
- Vanderbilt – Vanderbilt became the laughingstock of the SEC (and possibly the country) last week when they put up a measly 33 points in a loss to Marist. Since then, the Commodores rallied for a solid 73-49 win over UTEP. Last Saturday, though, the ‘Dores relapsed to their losing ways, putting up only 52 points to a down Villanova squad. With their loss to the Wildcats, Vanderbilt currently ranks 322nd in the nation in points per game and assists, 299th in rebounds, and 295th in field goal percentage. The long season continues for the Black and Gold; a bout with 6-1 Xavier is up next. Maybe they can catch some relief when they host Alabama A&M.