SEC Power Rankings: Week FivePosted by Brian Joyce on December 21st, 2012
Another week of the SEC Power Rankings, and another week of Florida sitting in the top spot.
1. Florida (-): The Gators lost to Arizona on Saturday, but that’s not enough to drop them from the top spot. Saturday’s letdown was the first time this defense allowed more than 1.0 points per possessions (1.08 PPP). Part of the reason Billy Donovan’s defense is so effective is because Florida doesn’t allow easy baskets.
Florida is only giving up 24 percent of opposing shots at the rim (tied for 20th in the nation), forcing opponents to take more difficult attempts. Our Freeze Frame edition from Tuesday shows how quickly the Florida defense is rotating to keep players from penetrating into the lane. And then of course if they make it to the rim, Patric Young is waiting for them with outstretched arms.
2. Missouri (-): Missouri rolled through its only contest of the week, with an easy 102-51 win over South Carolina State. But the biggest change for the Tigers this week was the addition of guard Jabari Brown. Brown played in just the third college game of his career scoring 12 points and three assists, but coach Frank Haith knows how much of an impact he will make on the rest of the season. “He played great,” Haith said “He was 1-for 7 from three, but that doesn’t concern me because I know that he’s going to make threes. What Jabari brings is basketball IQ, moves well without the ball. He passes the ball. He’s patient offensively, and I think that’s needed with this team.”
3. Kentucky (-): After dropping two games in a row in late November and early December, the Cats have won three in a row. But it’s the emergence of point guard Ryan Harrow that should have fans excited for the future of this UK squad. After struggling through the earlier part of the year, Harrow is averaging 10 points, four assists, and 2.5 rebounds per game over the last two games. Even more impressive though, is the lack of turnovers. Harrow has only turned the ball over three times all year (*in limited minutes). John Calipari’s newest point guard has received a lot of criticism this season, but he is taking better care of the ball than any of Cal’s long line of outstanding point guards at Kentucky.
4. Ole Miss (-): If we’re going to talk about Florida’s defense, then we need to talk about Ole Miss as well. The Rebels lead the SEC in effective field goal percentage defense (40.0% – 6th in the nation). Like Florida, much of its effectiveness has to do with the play around the rim. Ole Miss allows significantly more shots at the rim than Florida does, but the Rebels are turning away 18 percent of the shots around the rim.
5. Tennessee (^4): Tennessee averaged 1.09 and 1.30 points per possession in its last two games after some stinkers the two previous games. The Vols look to be back on track with a quality win over the Shockers of Wichita State. But this might not be the season Tennessee expected without forward Jeronne Maymon. The further we get into this college basketball season, the more it sounds like Maymon may not make a return. “As we get into January, it’s one of those deals [where] we sit down with Jeronne Maymon, training staff, doctors and his family and make a decision,” coach Cuonzo Martin said. Hard to see Tennessee making a push up the rankings without Maymon coming back at some point this season.
6. Arkansas (/1): Arkansas hasn’t quite had the season Razorback fans hoped for, but forward Marshawn Powell has returned better than advertised. After playing in just two games last year, Powell has looked very healthy this season. He has emerged as the second scoring option the Hogs need to assist guard BJ Young. Powell has an effective field goal percentage of 57.5 percent, while taking 28.4 percent of the Razorbacks’ shots while he’s on the floor.
7. LSU (-): Its a completely different team than last year, and obviously a different coach, but LSU struggled on the road last year. The Tigers were 4-9 away from Baton Rouge last season, and it appears it could be an issue again this year after a mediocre week. After six wins in a row at home, Johnny Jones’ team lost at Boise State and then won a close one at UC Irvine. This trend will have to be reversed if the Tigers expect to move up the rankings this season.
8. Alabama (/3): What happened to Alabama? The Tide won six in a row to start the season, only to drop its next three. A two point loss at Cincinnati wasn’t a bad loss. Losing at VCU wasn’t bad either. But losing at VCU by 19 is cause for concern. Alabama shot 39 percent, slipping back into its struggles from beyond the arc (27.3 3FG%). It was the fourth time this season that Anthony Grant’s club shot less than 30 percent from three point land. But things could be worse. Ten games into last season, the Tide had already shot under 30 percent from outside during seven games.
9. Texas A&M (/1): It’s hard to get a good read on the Aggies this year. They beat Washington State, Houston on the road, and a quality Stephen F. Austin team. But A&M has to get better rebounding the ball. Opponents grab 35.9 percent of offensive rebounds playing the Aggies. How about over the past week? Both of Texas A&M’s opponents pulled down double digit boards on the offensive end, including 16 for A&M Corpus Christi. That area has to get improve for Billy Kennedy’s team.
10. Vanderbilt (^2): Kyle Fuller averaged one point per game last year as he watched from the bench as NBA level talent won an SEC championship for the ‘Dores. His patience has paid off as he is getting his opportunity to shine. Vandy is on a three game winning streak, and Fuller is a big reason for the step up in play. He posted 17 points in 35 minutes against the Big Red of Cornell. It will be interesting to see how coach Kevin Stallings distributes playing time in the backcourt as guard Dai-Jon Parker sees more significant minutes.
11. Auburn (^3): Auburn has won three games in a row, going undefeated in the month of December. At the bottom of the SEC power rankings that’s enough to move a team up a few spots. Auburn hasn’t won the last three games by coincidence. The Tigers have benefited greatly from the emergence of guard Chris Denson, who was academically ineligible for the fall semester. Denson returned to post games of 13, 17, and 20 points, giving Auburn a much-needed scoring threat.
12. South Carolina (/2): South Carolina won and STILL dropped in the SEC power rankings? That’s what happens when you struggle to beat Appalachian State. At home. Against a guy who shoots free throws like this.
Come on South Carolina.
13. Georgia (/2: Hey, Georgia won a game. When a victory is that few and far between like it’s been for the Bulldogs this season, then Mark Fox’s club is probably in its rightful place at the bottom of the power rankings. But look on the bright side. Okay, I’m sorry, there really isn’t a bright side.
14. Mississippi State (/1): In it’s lone game of the week, the Bulldogs lost at Loyola Chicago. Out of 347 Division I teams, Mississippi State is 321st in effective field goal percentage. Not that the SEC is great at this thing we call college basketball, but there are some quality defensive teams in the league. Six teams rank in the top 50 of Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency rankings. It’s probably time for Bulldogs coach Rick Ray to redshirt everybody, and start thinking about next year.
Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops.