SEC Week That Was: Volume VII

Posted by Greg Mitchell on January 12th, 2016

The SEC began last week with the long-awaited Ben Simmons against Kentucky showcase and ended with the annual reappearance of John Calipari to the Nets rumors. Here’s what happened in between.

Team of the Week

It was an exciting first week for Andy Kennedy and Ole Miss in the Pavilion (

It was an exciting first week for Andy Kennedy and Ole Miss in the Pavilion (

Sign Andy Kennedy up for a few more weeks like that. The Rebels had loud, capacity crowds for their first two games in the Pavilion and the players on the floor didn’t disappoint. Ole Miss first overcame an eight-point halftime deficit to down Alabama, and then erased Georgia’s four-point lead with less than a minute to eke by the Bulldogs. As usual, Stefan Moody played a starring role in both wins, including a whirlwind game-winning layup against Georgia. The contributions of Sebastian Saiz shouldn’t be overlooked either, as he continued to be an active force in the paint with a pair of double-doubles. The Ole Miss program has some serious energy surrounding it right now.

Player of the Week

You could hand this to a number of guys — Moody, Saiz and (as always) Simmons come to mind. But this week’s honor goes to Anthlon Bell whose torrid three-point shooting and 51 points over two games led Arkansas to home wins over Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. Bell spent his first three seasons in Fayetteville as a solid but unspectacular option that Mike Anderson utilized in short bursts. With increased playing time during his senior season, he’s exploded in production. Bell leads the SEC in three-point percentage (47.1%) despite taking the third most three-point shots (104) in the conference.

Had a Rough Week: What we wrote about Vanderbilt last week could just be reprinted and run again. Turnovers doomed the Commodores in a loss at Arkansas — understandable against a Mike Anderson team. Several dry shooting stretches doomed them at South Carolina — understandable against a Frank Martin team. The problem for Vanderbilt is that understandable losses aren’t understandable anymore. The schedule eases up, though, and the Commodores need a sweep this of the Alabama schools at home this week. Keep an eye out to see if Kevin Stallings goes back to his defense-first starting lineup with Riley LaChance at the point and Wade Baldwin off the bench.

Video of the Week

Anderson gave a time out-less Stallings the chance to draw up the play below. The Razorbacks may have would up with the last laugh after winning in overtime, but how often do you see a game tying, end-of-regulation dunk?

Power Rankings

  1. Texas A&M (13-2). If the first week of SEC action is any indication, the Aggies are going to win a lot of games this season. Mississippi State’s zone frustrated them in Starkville and Tennessee ran up the score early in Knoxville, but A&M found ways to win both games. The more extreme method: a game-ending 18-4 run against the Vols to overcome a 10-point deficit.
  2. Kentucky (12-3). After a no-show from the frontcourt against LSU, Alex Poythress‘ 25-point explosion against Alabama was a welcome sight for Big Blue Nation. Worse on the eyes of Kentucky was Skal Labissiere having arguably his worst game at Kentucky (four minutes, three fouls, 0-of-1 FG).  Labissiere has rendered the scouting services “speechless.”
  3. South Carolina (15-0). It’s a shame that the Gamecocks only get one crack each at Texas A&M and Kentucky, although it does make for a manageable schedule. Even at this advanced stage, it would take a massive collapse for South Carolina to fail to make its first NCAA Tournament under Frank Martin. Don’t expect this experienced team, which buckled down against Vanderbilt and overcame its first half-time deficit of the year, to let that happen.
  4. Florida (10-5). A Gator is finally hitting some threes! Justin Leon is playing more since league play began, in no small part because he’s gone 6-of-10 from deep and Mike White is absolutely desperate for reliable outside shooting. Florida rebounded nicely from a stinker in Knoxville to slow down LSU over the weekend.
  5. LSU (9-6). Florida’s defense swallowed up everyone except Simmons in the Swamp, but before the loss to the Gators, the Tigers had finally generated some positive momentum with a two-game winning streak. There are still problems in Baton Rouge, though, as Simmons and Tim Quarterman don’t look entirely comfortable playing with one another. This tension continues to be Johnny Jones‘ greatest challenge.
  6. Ole Miss (12-3). The Rebels have a difficult road game in Baton Rouge this week, but it could get exciting after that. Home games against Florida and South Carolina should keep the energy flowing in the Pavilion.
  7. Georgia (8-5). The upcoming week should prove to be a nice litmus test for the Bulldogs. If Georgia can get past Tennessee, a matchup with Texas A&M becomes that much more important. With Kentucky showing up only once on the schedule, the Aggies present a rare opportunity for a marquee win.
  8. Tennessee (8-7). Rick Barnes says that his team’s size limitations mean that the Vols will have to score 90 points per game. Tennessee almost hit that threshold twice in a 1-1 week, scoring 83 points (1.09 PPP) in a win over Florida and 88 points (1.17 PPP) in a loss to Texas A&M. This team will be a tough out in Knoxville.
  9. Vanderbilt (8-7). The Commodores didn’t play terribly in losses at Arkansas and South Carolina, but they’ve given themselves virtually no margin for error the rest of the way. Their talent and preseason expectations may subtly boost their case come Selection Sunday, but it’s long past time for Vanderbilt to start stringing wins together. Its last win against a Power Five team came in late November against Wake Forest.
  10. Alabama (9-5). It was a frustrating week for the Tide, which let one slip away against Ole Miss before getting thumped by Kentucky. One bright spot continues to be Donta Hall, who may be the SEC’s next elite shot-blocker. The freshman has an astounding 15.6% block rate in limited playing time, including several big blocks late in the game against the Rebels.
  11. Arkansas (8-7). If Mike Anderson can get this Razorbacks team to a .500 SEC record, it will be one of his most impressive coaching jobs to date.
  12. Mississippi State (7-7). The Bulldogs had a great defensive effort against Texas A&M but came up short after poor execution in the final minute. Their best win so far? Eastern Washington (KenPom #204) to open the season. Yikes.
  13. Missouri (8-7). For the first time in a game against a Power 5 team, the Tigers didn’t trail by at least 15 points. Instead, Missouri beat Auburn handily, and without getting very much from Wes Clark. A loss in Athens shows that road games will still be a challenge, but the win over the other Tigers was a nice start.
  14. Auburn (7-7). Until further notice, the Tigers will go as Kareem Canty goes. Canty had a rough night (2-of-9 FG, three turnovers) at Mizzou and the Tigers were blown out in Columbia.
Greg Mitchell (@gregpmitchell) (231 Posts)

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