SEC Power Rankings: Gators continue to roll

Just two weeks into conference play, Southeastern Conference preseason

favorite Florida and surging Ole Miss are the only teams remaining

unbeaten in league play.

Here’s an updated look at the SEC Power Rankings:

1. Florida (14-2, 4-0) 

Coach

Billy Donovan picked up career win No. 400 in 17 seasons at Florida

with an 83-52 blowout at home of then-17 Missouri, pushing his overall

record to 435-180. Only two other coaches – Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp and

LSU’s Dale Brown — have won 400 games at a SEC school. The Gators held

Mizzou standout point guard Phil Pressey to two points and 10 turnovers

in a 31-point home win. Couple that with a 21-point win at Texas A&M

two days earlier, and the Gators have won four league games by an

average margin of 26.8 points per game. Since 2010, Florida is 15-1 in

Thursday-Saturday league games.

2. Ole Miss (15-2, 4-0)

The

Rebels haven’t started 4-0 in league play since the 1936-37 season.

Even a long power outage during the first half of Saturday’s home win

over Arkansas couldn’t deter Ole Miss, which has beaten the Razorbacks

in 22 of their last 30 meetings. Off their emotional home win over

Missouri a week ago Saturday, the Rebels figured to come out somewhat

flat Tuesday at Vanderbilt. And they did. If not for a 3-pointer at the

buzzer by Marshall Henderson to force overtime, Ole Miss would have been

upset by the Commodores. It was the Rebels’ first win at Vandy since

2001.

3. Missouri (13-4, 2-2)

The

Tigers are 1-2 without senior forward Laurence Bowers, who’s sidelined

indefinitely with a knee injury. Missouri wasn’t been competitive in

back-to-back Saturday road losses to teams ranked ahead of them in the

SEC Power Rankings, getting blown out at Missouri and Florida. Pressey

may be pressing a bit to take up the slack for the injured Bowers. He

hit only 1-of-7 shots against Florida. Five Tigers scored in double

figures in a 17-point mid-week win at Georgia, but one of them wasn’t

Pressey, who had five points, well below his current average of 12.2

points per game.

4. Kentucky (12-5, 3-1)

Sophomore

Kyle Wiltjer wasn’t one of the ballyhooed freshmen to turn pro after

last year’s national championship. But while playing in all 40 games as a

reserve, he flashed glimpses of keen offensive capabilities. While a

new class of freshmen titillates the Wildcats’ faithful, the 6-10

Wiltjer came off the bench to score 17 points in each win last week over

visiting Tennessee and at Auburn. His presence seemed to stabilize the

youthful Wildcats. Even so, youth will still be served at UK. Freshman

forward Nerlens Noel had 10 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks

against Auburn. Freshman point guard Ryan Harrow has scored in double

figures in eight straight games.

5. Alabama (11-6, 3-1)

Three

league wins in a row, including a one-pointer at home over Texas

A&M and a 32-point win at Mississippi State last week, have the

Crimson Tide feeling good about themselves. Getting lone senior Andrew

Steele back after missing seven games with a sports hernia is key. With

Steele out, the Tide went 2-5. Since his return, they are 9-1.  Leading

scorer, junior guard Trevor Releford, did not play at Mississippi State

with an ankle sprain, but he came back to come off the bench to score a

game-high 15 against Texas A&M.

6. Arkansas (11-6, 2-2)

After

playing evenly at Ole Miss in the first half Saturday, Arkansas didn’t

react well to a 25-minute power outage in the first half. The Razorbacks

were outscored 10-5 in the first half when play resumed. “It was a

bizarre game,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “I have never been a

part of something like that.” The Hogs won an important home game in

double-overtime against visiting Auburn on Wednesday. Junior Marshawn

Powell had his third double-double with 28 points and 11 rebounds.

7. Texas A&M (12-5, 2-2)

The

Aggies burst onto the SEC scene with wins over traditional powers

Arkansas at home and Kentucky on the road. But they returned to earth

after being blown out at home by Florida before losing a one-point

decision at Alabama. The Aggies held Alabama to only 15 points in the

first half, but watched the Tide go on a 19-5 run after intermission.

The Aggies were totally outclassed by Florida in a 19-point loss. Coming

off scoring 40 points in the win at Kentucky, Elston Turner managed

only four points on 1-of-10 shooting, well below his 17.1 points per

game average.     

8. Auburn (8-9, 2-2)   

After

starting league play 2-0 for the first time since 2001 with wins over

lowly LSU and South Carolina, the Tigers stepped up in class with a trip

to Arkansas followed by a visit by Kentucky in front of a sell-out

crowd. Auburn will lament the double-overtime loss at Arkansas,

especially with senior guard Frankie Sullivan scoring 23 of 26 points

after halftime to go with a career-high nine rebounds. Until junior

forward Allen Payne hit a 3-pointer to force the first overtime with 5

seconds remaining, Auburn had gone more than 6 minutes without scoring.

In the loss to Kentucky, Auburn went 0-for-15 on 3-point shots to miss

every trey attempt in a game for just the third time in program history.

9. Tennessee (9-7, 1-3)

After

opening league play with three losses, the Vols avoided opening league

play 0-4 for the first time since 1993-94. They got off the schneid with

a 15-point home win Saturday over Mississippi State behind 18 points

and 11 rebounds from sophomore forward Jarnell Stokes, whose play had

been slowed somewhat with the loss for the season of fellow forward

Jeronne Maymon to injury. UT outscored the Bulldogs 42-16 in the paint.

The 17,854 that came to Thompson-Boling Arena helped UT remain eighth in

the nation in home attendance. Earlier in the week, UT put up a gallant

effort in a 10-point loss at Kentucky. Junior guard Jordan McRae

continued his hot hand with 23 points.

10. Mississippi State (7-9, 2-2)

Ole

Miss wasn’t the only gym experiencing a power outage Wednesday night.

State’s Humphrey Coliseum experienced the same before the game against

Alabama. Thing is, the Bulldogs remained in the dark in the blowout loss

to Alabama, which used a 27-3 run over two halves to win going away. It

was the worst home loss to Alabama and second-worst home loss ever.

Mississippi State was outclassed at Tennessee in game of head coaches –

Rick Ray at State and Cuonzo Martin at UT – that were once former

assistants at Purdue under Boilermakers coach Matt Painter.

11. Vanderbilt (7-9, 1-3)    

After

nearly beating visiting Kentucky in the first week of SEC play and

losing to Ole Miss at home in overtime last week, the youthful

Commodores apparently feel comfortable at home, albeit without a

breakthrough win there yet. In a win Saturday at South Carolina, they

finally hit seven key free throws down the stretch and won without

depending upon sophomore Kedren Johnson, the team’s top scorer who was

held to only three points. In the loss to Ole Miss, Vandy hit a Memorial

Gym record 17 3-pointers, but could only make 10-of-23 free throws, a

bugaboo bothering Vandy all season.

12. South Carolina (11-6, 1-3)

Senior

forward Lakeem Jackson and freshman forward Michael Carrera each posted

double-doubles in an overtime win at LSU to give first-year Gamecocks

coach Frank Martin his first SEC victory. Carrera scored 21 of his

career-high 23 points after halftime.  But South Carolina couldn’t build

on the win, falling at home Saturday to Vanderbilt. Jackson grabbed his

500th rebound as a Gamecock in the loss.

13. Georgia (7-10, 1-3) 

Sophomore

guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has led the Bulldogs in scoring in 14 of

17 games, including a team-high 22 points to go with six steals in a

67-58 win Saturday over LSU for the team’s first league win. The

Bulldogs swarmed to force 21 turnovers. Georgia was outclassed Saturday

at Missouri, which outscored the Bulldogs 32-12 in the paint. Youthful

Georgia has used 11 different starting lineups in 17 games this season.

14. LSU (9-6, 0-4)

The

Tigers are the only SEC team yet to win a league game under first-year

head coach Johnny Jones, the former North Texas and Memphis head coach.

Sophomore forward Johnny Bryant III notched his fourth double-double of

the season in the loss at Georgia. Sophomore guard Anthony Hickey has

scored in double figures in seven straight games. In the overtime loss

to South Carolina, an errant 16-foot jumper by O’Bryant could have won

the game for the Tigers in regulation.