SEC Rundown: Volume X

Posted by Greg Mitchell on February 2nd, 2016

After a fun Saturday hanging out with the Big 12, SEC teams return to league action starting this evening. Waiting for them is a conference race with the potential to heat up considerably over the rest of the month. Quite the change from the last two years, right? Here’s a look back at last week’s SEC action and what to watch for ahead.

Dorian Finney-Smith and Florida made a bold statement against West Virginia (

Dorian Finney-Smith and Florida made a bold statement against West Virginia (

Trending UpFlorida‘s likelihood of returning to the NCAA Tournament. The Gators’ resume previously lacked a marquee win but that problem was solved by convincingly beating West Virginia at home on Saturday. KeVaughn Allen is also on the upswing, as he has been for most of his freshman season. The freshman is becoming the most important part of Florida’s offense and looked comfortable beyond his years against the Mountaineers’ unrelenting pressure. If he continues his scoring tear, he and Dorian Finney-Smith could be enough to keep Florida afloat on the nights when the team’s shots aren’t falling.

Trending Down. The likelihood Missouri wins another SEC game this season after falling at home to Mississippi State. Sure, the Tigers might pick a team off that is having a bad night, but it’s hard to look through the Tigers’ remaining schedule and find a game in which they’ll be favored. KenPom forecasts Missouri to lose the rest of its games, ending the year on a 16-game losing streak. Kim Anderson certainly inherited a barren situation in Columbia, but can he survive if a 1-17 league record truly is where this team is heading?

Storyline To Watch. Despite its 19-2 overall record, we still don’t know exactly how good South Carolina is or can be. The Gamecocks blew out Alabama last Saturday but have for the most part played a bunch of close SEC games. Frank Martin‘s squad will roll into its most difficult week of the season with road games at Georgia and Texas A&M, where they’ll be challenged by a pair of good defenses. A split here would be nice, but a sweep would force many to reconsider the team’s March ceiling. What will we be saying about the Gamecocks this time next week?

Things We Like.

  1. Dusty Hannahs‘ quick trigger finger.
  2. Tyler Ulis off the bounce.
  3. What Ulis does for Alex Poythress when he gets in the lane.

Things We Don’t Like.

  1. Buddy Hield from deep.
  2. Georgia’s NCAA Tournament resume.
  3. Kentucky and Texas A&M drawing only one regular season game against each other.

Power Rankings.

Texas A&M held on for a big win against an old friend in the Big12/SEC Challenge (

Texas A&M held on for a big win against an old friend in the Big12/SEC Challenge (

  1. Texas A&M (18-3, 7-1). You can attribute part of the uncharacteristically low 0.86 points per possession Iowa State put up in College Station to a hobbled Georges Niang. But it was also more of the same from what has been an elite Aggies’ defense. Few teams in the country can put out better defensive length when Alex Caruso and Danuel House are the backcourt pairing, and we saw just that during the late stages of the game against the Cyclones.
  2. Kentucky (16-5, 6-2). It was good to see Dominique Hawkins back in action for the Wildcats after missing almost a month with a leg injury. This Kentucky team can go really far — as we saw with its near-win in Allen Fieldhouse — but it can’t take anything for granted. Getting a good defensive role player like Hawkins back in the rotation is important.
  3. Florida (14-7, 5-3). The game of the week might be the Gators’ upcoming visit to Rupp Arena on Saturday. If Florida leaves Lexington with a win, it might have enough shine on its resume to feel comfortable by simply taking care of business at home the rest of the way.
  4. South Carolina (19-2, 5-2). Michael Carrera is doing everything he can to make sure his senior year ends in the NCAA tournament. Midway through the season he’s established himself as a deadly three-point shooter, hitting 47.5 percent from deep. Against Mississippi State he had 34 points and 15 rebounds, and single-handedly carried the Gamecocks through sluggish portions of the game.
  5. LSU (13-8, 6-2). Dick Vitale was determined to let you the college basketball viewer know that Antonio Blakeney is going to be a star. The freshman looked comfortable against Oklahoma (11 points, 3-for-5 from three) and even though he plays with the name in college basketball, he might be the X-factor for the Tigers.
  6. Arkansas (11-10, 4-4). The Razorbacks have come a long way from that November loss to Akron, at least in Bud Walton. Handing Texas A&M its first loss must have been satisfying, but the Razorbacks turned right around and dug out of an early hole against a solid Texas Tech team. SEC Player of the Week Moses Kingsley has scored in double digits every game this year, and had a big tip-in and dunk to close out the Red Raiders in overtime.
  7. Vanderbilt (12-9, 4-4) Wade Baldwin‘s status after getting kneed in the quad is a must watch for the Commodores this week. A poor offensive effort in Austin (0.94 PPP) won’t sink them but Vanderbilt needs to recover quickly with Texas A&M coming to town. Not having the athletic Baldwin at full strength would be a killer since the Aggies don’t give up many easy looks on the perimeter.
  8. Georgia (11-8, 4-4). It’s not hyperbole to say that Yante Maten is the Bulldogs’ most critical player, and it hurt that foul trouble limited him to just 20 minutes each in losses to LSU and Baylor. Georgia is better than its record (evidenced by its halftime lead in Waco) but time is running out to build a tournament worthy resume.
  9. Ole Miss (13-8, 3-5). Teams planning for the Rebels should use what Kansas State did in the second half as a blueprint. The Wildcats swallowed up Stefan Moody and held him without a shot. Without Sebastian Saiz the Rebels simply don’t have a reliable second option, though freshman Donte Fitzpatrick-Dorsey has shown potential since having his role increased.
  10. Alabama (11-9, 2-6). The Tide finished a midweek comeback win against Tennessee on a 16-2 run but fell on the road against South Carolina. Justin Coleman is day-to-day with a turf toe and without him Avery Johnson may need to play Retin Obasohan and Arthur Edwards the entire game against Mississippi State.
  11. Tennessee (10-11, 3-5). The Vols should’ve gone down to Forth Worth and gotten a win. It’s as simple as that. Instead, TCU held Tennessee to its third worst shooting night of the year (39.1 eFG%). This was a missed opportunity for some SEC pride in the Challenge.
  12. Auburn (9-11, 3-5). It’s no surprise that the Tigers three-game slide has coincided with a 3-for-25 from three cold stretch by Kareem Canty. At the very least, Auburn should have recently suspended Cinmeon Bowers back for an upset bid at home against LSU.
  13. Mississippi State (9-11, 2-6). Logic dictates that the Bulldogs shouldn’t be winning road SEC games when Gavin Ware isn’t playing, but that’s where Missouri is now. Maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have been competitive over their past six games and have a chance to get another win with Alabama coming to the Hump this week.
  14. Missouri (8-13, 1-7). There’s not much left but to find silver linings for the Tigers. Namon Wright hasn’t taken the step forward offensively many thought he would in his sophomore season.. But against Mississippi State (18 points, 9 rebounds) he scored more points than he had since opening night. He’s got the size to be a major problem for opponents on the wing.
Greg Mitchell (@gregpmitchell) (231 Posts)

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *