SEC Power Rankings: Gators reign despite loss

Southeastern Conference teams – most of them, anyway — worked overtime

Saturday. Four of the seven games went into overtime. But apparently

that wasn’t enough.

Tennessee took four overtimes to win at Texas

A&M, LSU beat visiting Alabama in three extra sessions, and both

Kentucky beat Missouri and Georgia topped South Carolina in overtime to

boot.

By the time the final horn sounded to end the wild day,

Florida had retained the top spot in the SEC Power Rankings that it has

held all season long. That comes even with the Gators losing at Missouri

on Tuesday for just their second league defeat.

With only two weeks remaining in the regular season, here’s an updated look at the SEC Power Rankings:

1. Florida (22-4, 12-2)

Gators

coach Billy Donovan prefers an eight-man rotation. That dropped to

seven the last five games without junior forward Will Yeguete, who is

hoping to return from knee injury next week. When freshman guard Michael

Frazier banged his head on teammate Scottie Wilbekin’s knee and

suffered a concussion while diving for a loose ball, Florida was down to

using six players in the second half of their 71-54 win Saturday over

Arkansas.

With a trip looming Tuesday to surging Tennessee, the

Gators look to freshmen Braxton Ogbueze, Dillon Graham and DeVon Walker

to fill Frazier’s minutes if he can’t go. In the loss at Missouri, the

Gators blew a 13-point lead in the second half. Florida had beaten the

Tigers by 31 in their previous meeting last month in Gainesville. At No.

8, Florida is the only SEC team ranked in the Top 25. Its RPI (Ratings

Percentage Index) is fourth nationally.

2. Kentucky (19-8, 10-4)

The

Wildcats took to the friendly confines of Rupp Arena for a three-game

home stand hoping to right the listing ship racked two weeks ago. First

came the loss of freshman star Nerlens Noel for the season, followed by

the subsequent 30-point disaster of a loss at Tennessee in the Wildcats’

first game without him. The Wildcats finally got another signature

victory to go with its win last month at Ole Miss with the overtime win

over Missouri.

Fifth-year senior Julius Mays, a Wright State

graduate who transferred to UK, scored 21 of his 24 points in the second

half, including eight in overtime, in the win over Missouri. Freshman

guard Archie Goodwin, who has struggled of late, scored all 18 of his

points after intermission. Freshman center Willie Cauley-Stein, the

replacement for Noel, had a career-high 20 points in a win over stubborn

Vanderbilt. Kentucky’s RPI this week is 46, third-best in the SEC.

3. Alabama (18-9, 10-4)

The

Crimson Tide drop a slot to third in the SEC Power Rankings after

blowing a 10-point lead in the last 3:37 of regulation in the

triple-overtime loss at LSU. Junior guard Trevor Releford played a

team-high 50 minutes and scored a career-high 36 points. He also had

three steals to become Alabama’s all-time steals leader with 178,

surpassing Senario Hillman, who had 176 from 2007-10. The game was tied

seven times and had 16 lead changes. The Crimson Tide had won five of

six games before the loss.

In the win over Mississippi State,

sophomore guard Rodney Cooper had his first double-double with 20 points

and 10 rebounds. The Crimson Tide have a winning league record a

third-straight season, best since the team did it from 1994-96. Alabama

had a season-high 18 steals against Mississippi State. Alabama’s RPI

this week is 62, sixth-best in the SEC.

4. Missouri (19-8, 8-6)

The

Tigers just don’t lose at home, now 15-0 this season and 30-1 over the

last two at Mizzou Arena after rallying past Florida on Tuesday. It’s

just the opposite on the road, where they are 1-7 following the loss at

Kentucky. Senior forward Laurence Bowers had 17 points and 10 rebounds

versus Florida. During the week, Tigers coach Frank Haith and the

university received notification from the NCAA for possible rules

violations while he coached at Miami.

Senior point guard Phil

Pressey, who has battled inconsistency, had 27 points and 10 assists

against Kentucky, which played host to Missouri for the first time. The

Tigers need one more win for a fifth-straight 20-win season. The 126

wins over five seasonsis the best such stretch in program history.

Missouri had outrebounded opponents ninestraight games before being

outdone by Kentucky. Missouri’s RPI is 38, second-best in the SEC.

5. Ole Miss (20-7, 9-5)

Senior

forward Murphy Holloway played two seasons with Ole Miss, transferred

to South Carolina in his home state but sat out a year because of the

transfer rule, and then headed back to Ole Miss the past two seasons to

finish his carer. His homecoming Wednesday that featured 19 points and

13 rebounds was marred by a one-point upset loss to the Gamecocks. After

a 13-2 run netted the Rebels a six-point lead with 5:04 to play, they

would not score again.

The recent swoon by the Rebels that

included five losses in seven games was halted by the 33-point win over

visiting Auburn. Junior guard Marshall Henderson, the SEC’s top scorer,

came off the bench for the first time and tied a school record with

eight 3-pointers and 28 points. Andy Kennedy became the program’s

all-time wins leader with 145. The Rebels’ RPI is 56, fourth-best in the

SEC.

6. Tennessee (16-10, 8-6)

In

winning the longest game in program history, the Volunteers claimed

their fifth straightand continued a late surge similar to last season

when they won eight of their last nineregular-season games. It was the

first meeting for the teams as league foes. Junior guard Trae Golden,

the SEC Player of the Week, continued stellar play of late with a

career-high 32 points, including 15 in the overtime periods. He is

averaging 20.8 points the last five games.

Sophomore forward

Jarnell Stokes had his 12th double-double with 20 points and 16

rebounds. In the win over LSU, junior guard Jordan McRae hit all six

3-point attempts and notched a career-high 34 points. Since going to a

four-guard starting lineup, the Vols are 4-0. The Vols could claim a

signature win for their NCAA resume with a win Tuesday over visiting

Florida. UT’s RPI is 57, fifth-best in the SEC but only one point behind

Ole Miss.

7. Arkansas (17-10, 8-6)

Junior

forward Coty Clarke hit all eight shots and scored 18 points to go with

a team-high seven rebounds in the loss Saturday at Florida. Trailing by

only four points at halftime, the Razorbacks watched Florida open the

second half on an 11-0 run and quickly open the lead to 20 points.

Sophomore

guard B.J. Young’s right-handed scoop shot with six seconds to play

proved to be the game-winner shot in beating visiting Georgia. Freshman

Anthlon Bell came off the bench to score a career-high 17 points off

five 3-pointers. The Hogs have an RPI of 80.

8. LSU (16-9, 7-7)

Thirty-five

years before Saturday’s triple-overtime win over visiting Alabama, LSU

beat then-No. 1 Kentucky in overtime. Ironically, that team was honored

at Saturday’s game in Maravich Assembly Center. Sophomore forward Johnny

O’Bryant played 51 minutes with 24 points and 10 rebounds. He had 24

and eight in the Tuesday loss at Tennessee. Senior guard Charles

Carmouche got the iron man award witha game-high 54 minutes played.

The

loss at Tennessee was the Tigers’ third game in six days. LSU has won

sevenof their last 10 games. Visiting Arkansas on Wednesday is a key

game for both teams’ tourney resume. LSU’s RPI is 97.

9. Georgia (13-14, 7-7)

The

streaky Bulldogs had to overcome a four-point deficit in the final

minute to join the overtime parade. They then outscored the Gamecocks

9-1 in overtime to snap a three-game losing skid. Before that, Georgia

had won five in a row.

Sophomore guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

notched two more games scoring in double figures to keep his streak of

doing so in every game this season. He’s the only SEC player and one of

only 11 Division I players nationally to do so, heading into the week.

Georgia’s RPI is 123.

10. Texas A&M (16-11, 6-8)

While

the four-overtime game was a record for Tennessee, the Aggies had

played a five-overtime game—a 116-110 loss to Baylor on Jan. 23, 2008.

Senior guard Elston Turner had 38 points during a school-record 58

minutes, breaking his own Reed Arena single-game scoring record of 37

scored earlier this season. Returning after missing a game with a

sprained ankle, freshman guard J’Mychal Reese scored 13 points. Four

Aggies fouled out, compared to none for Tennessee.

The Aggies

missed their first 13 shots in the mid-week win at Auburn. Freshman

guard Alex Caruso had 14 points and eight rebounds, both career highs.

The Aggies made 13-of-14 second-half free throws, including all six in

the final 27 seconds. Texas A&M’s RPI is 86.

11. Vanderbilt (11-15, 5-9)

After

nearly beating Kentucky in Rupp Arena Wednesday, the Commodores took

that road confidence to Mississippi State Saturday for a 72-31 blowout

win. It was the largest SEC win for the Commodores since they beat

Kentucky by 41 points in 2008. Vanderbilt out-rebounded State 49-17, its

largest margin of the year. The Commodores continue to get production

from various young players, including sophomore guard Dai-Jon Parker,who

had 13 rebounds versus State; and two freshmen, forward Sheldon Jeter

and guard Kevin Bright, who had a game-high 15 points.

The

Commodores turned a 14-point deficit into only two in the second half

beforefalling by four at Kentucky. Unlike against Mississippi State, the

Commodores were manhandled on the boards 38-24 by the Wildcats. They

had no answer for Kentucky center Cauley-Stein.
 
12. South Carolina (13-14, 3-11)

First-year

Gamecocks coach Frank Martin has his team improving and being a pest,

just ask Ole Miss, which got a full dose of freshman forward Michael

Carrera with 13 points and 13 rebounds, his fifth double-double this

season.

South Carolina held the Rebels’ Henderson to 11 points,

eight points below his league-leading average. In the loss to Georgia,

the Gamecocks missed all seven shots and scored only one point in the

overtime period.

13. Auburn (9-18, 3-11)

The

Tigers were on the wrong end of Ole Miss angst in Saturday’s 33-point

loss. The only bright spot for the Tigers was freshman guard Shaquille

Johnson scoring a career-high 18 points.

In the home loss to

Texas A&M, the Tigers shot to an early 12-0 lead and even led by one

midway through the second half, but they would end up shooting just 26

percent after intermission as the Aggies held off several rallies.

14. Mississippi State (7-19, 2-12)

In

losing their 12th game in a row, the Bulldogs hit rock bottom with the

embarrassing 72-31 home loss to Vanderbilt. They went without a field

goal the first 11 minutes of the game, and finished shooting an anemic

17.5 percent from the field. They made only 4-of-22 shots in the first

half. “It all starts with making shots,” Bulldogs first-year coach Rick

Ray said. The Bulldogs are down to only eight regulars on the roster.