The Big 12/SEC Challenge threw a monkey wrench into the conference play routine, but it was a positive change for a handful of SEC squads. Texas A&M and Florida came away with the most impressive wins of the day, while LSU and Kentucky played very well in losing efforts against top five opponents.
The top five in this week’s power rankings remain the same, with each team splitting a pair of games last week. Here’s how the SEC stacks up entering February:
1. Texas A&M (18-3, 7-1 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 1
Last week’s results: Lost to Arkansas 74-71, beat Iowa State 72-62
The Aggies fell victim in Bud Walton Arena for the third straight time since joining the SEC. That loss to Arkansas snapped Texas A&M’s 10-game winning streak. The Aggies bounced back nicely with an impressive home victory over Iowa State. They stay atop of the conference.
2. Kentucky (16-5, 6-2 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 2
Last week’s results: Beat Missouri 88-54, lost to Kansas 90-84 in OT
The Wildcats stay just where they are after an impressive 1-1 week. The Kansas loss may be tough for some fans to swallow, but it showed how far this team has come since losing to Auburn on Jan. 16. It may have taken longer than many expected, but John Calipari may have this team hitting its stride entering the final month of the regular season.
3. Florida (14-7, 5-3 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 3
Last week’s results: Lost to Vanderbilt 60-59, beat West Virginia 88-71
Florida didn’t just beat the No. 9 Mountaineers. The Gators dominated the Mountaineers from the opening tip. This victory wipes out a tough road loss to a talented, but embattled Vanderbilt team. The Gators still have to take care of business, but they should be safely in the NCAA Tournament field entering February.
4. South Carolina (19-2, 6-2 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 4
Last week’s results: Beat Mississippi State 84-74, beat Alabama 78-64
The Gamecocks took care of their business at home against conference bottom-feeders. A 19-2 record is nothing to laugh at, but the meat of South Carolina’s schedule begins this week. The Gamecocks will travel to Georgia and Texas A&M this week before hosting LSU and Kentucky next week.
5. LSU (13-8, 6-2 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 5
Last week’s results: Beat Georgia 89-85, lost to Oklahoma 77-75
The good news is LSU played the top team in the country awfully tough at home and looked like a tournament team. The bad news is LSU doesn’t have much room for error despite being second in the conference standings. Beating Auburn and Mississippi State this week could get the Tigers on the roll they desperately need.
6. Arkansas (11-10, 4-4 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 10
Last week’s results: Beat Texas A&M 74-71, beat Texas Tech 75-68 in OT
The Razorbacks held serve on home court, knocking off Texas A&M and beating Texas Tech in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. The SEC likely won’t get a sixth team into the NCAA Tournament, but Arkansas could make some noise by knocking off Florida on the road this week.
7. Vanderbilt (12-9, 4-4 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 7
Last week’s results: Beat Florida 60-59, lost to Texas 72-58
Vanderbilt didn’t overly impress last week and Saturday’s ugly loss to Texas diminished the home win against Florida. Vandy’s tournament hopes are on life support and that may be putting it nicely. The Commodores will have to play like it when they host Texas A&M on Thursday.
8. Georgia (11-8, 4-4 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 6
Last week’s results: Lost to LSU 89-85, lost to Baylor 83-73
The Bulldogs had an opportunity to make a statement with a couple of wins against quality opponents. Instead, they stubbed their toe in a big way. Georgia will need a strong conclusion to the season to even sniff the bubble.
9. Mississippi State (9-11, 2-6 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 11
Last week’s results: Lost to South Carolina 84-74, beat Missouri 76-62
Mississippi State was the only team within the bottom six of the conference to win on Saturday. The Bulldogs get the nod for their highest ranking of the season.
10. Mississippi (13-8, 3-5 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 12
Last week’s results: Beat Auburn 80-63, lost to Kansas State 69-64
Stefan Moody still makes the Rebels a watchable team, but that’s about all this team has going for itself.
11. Alabama (11-9, 2-6 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 13
Last week’s results: Beat Tennessee 63-57, lost to South Carolina 78-64
Alabama beat Tennessee in an underrated thriller and rallied out of a 15-point second half deficit. That doesn’t mean the game was exactly pretty to watch.
12. Auburn (9-11, 3-5 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 9
Last week’s results: Lost to Ole Miss 80-63, lost to Oklahoma State 74-63
The Tigers are losers of three straight and have been pretty uncompetitive lately. However, the Tigers have at least lost to decent competition, unlike the teams below them.
13. Tennessee (10-11, 3-5 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 8
Last week’s results: Lost to Alabama 63-57, lost to TCU 75-63
The Volunteers melted down in the second halves of consecutive road games this week. The loss to the Big 12’s bottom feeder was especially ugly. The Volunteers are a drastically worse team on the road and they aren’t even that great at home.
14. Missouri (8-13, 1-7 SEC)
Last week’s ranking: 14
Last week’s results: Lost to Kentucky 88-54, lost to Mississippi State 76-62
What’s more embarrassing? Losing to Kentucky by 34 at Rupp Arena, or allowing Mississippi State to win its first road game by a comfortable margin. Better days are ahead for Missouri, hopefully.