SEC Power Rankings: Ole Miss rises through ranks

The Ole Miss Rebels are 4-0 in SEC play since guard Marshall Henderson returned to the lineup.

Spruce Derden/Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. –€“ A third of the way through the 18-game Southeastern Conference schedule, only four of 14 teams have winning league records.

No. 6 Florida and No. 14 Kentucky continue to lead the pack as the only SEC teams ranked in today’s AP Top 25. It won’t be until Feb. 15 at Kentucky until the teams meet for the first of two encounters.

Ole Miss has steadily risen through the ranks to sit at third place in this week’s SEC Power Rankings. The Rebels have gone 4-0 since senior guard Marshall Henderson returned from being suspended for the first two league games. Upstart Georgia continues to hang as the only other team with a winning league record. Six other teams — Missouri, Tennessee, LSU, Alabama, Texas A&M and Mississippi State — are inconsistent and sit at 3-3 each in SEC action. Heading into Week 4 of league play, here are the SEC Power Rankings:

In Saturday’s 67-41 home blowout of Tennessee, Florida’s defense held the Vols to season lows in points and field goal percentage (26.8 percent). Four Gators — sophomore guard Michael Frazier (12), senior guard Scottie Wilbekin (12), senior center Patric Young (13) and senior forward Casey Prather (17) — have hit double figures in double-digit scoring games this season.

The Gators had less than a 48-hour turnaround for Saturday’s game following a 68-62 win Thursday at Alabama. They didn’t depart until the next morning when their charter plane was grounded following the game for mechanical issues. Since the league implemented Thursday-Saturday games for television purposes, the Gators have gone 17-1 in those games.

While the Wildcats have inside muscle with 6-foot-9 freshman forward Julius Randle and 7-foot sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein, they have made at least five 3-point shots in five straight games, including Saturday’s 79-54 win over visiting Georgia. Stein had six blocked shots and a career-high six steals, most for any Wildcat during the John Calipari era now in its fifth season.

Highly-recruited forward Alex Poythress continues to emerge in a reserve role. In Wednesday’s 68-51 win over visiting Texas A&M, the sophomore forward came off the bench to notch a season-high 16 points with five rebounds and two blocked shots. He’s averaging 10.7 points in SEC play.

Since a loss at rival Mississippi State on Jan. 11, the Rebels have reeled off four straight wins, including getting revenge with Saturday’s 82-63 win over the visiting Bulldogs. Henderson was only 2-of-12 on 3-point shots, but the senior guard still had 19 points to go with four assists and four steals.

With Wednesday’s 63-52 win at Vanderbilt, the Rebels have won two straight at Memorial Gym after winning only six times there in 55 previous visits. While Henderson gets the publicity, junior guard Jarvis Summers has been the team’s most consistent performer, scoring in double figures in nine straight games and 17 of 19 overall.

While the Bulldogs were clearly outclassed in the loss at Kentucky, they also showed separation from the bottom of the league with Wednesday’s 97-76 blowout of visiting South Carolina. Nemanja Djurisic, a junior forward from Montenegro, came off the bench to score a career-high 22 points. Georgia matched the program record with 50 free throw attempts against South Carolina, making a season-high 31.

Ranked fourth in the SEC in rebounding margin (plus 5.3), the Bulldogs are 10-0 when outrebounding opponents. But only one Bulldog — junior forward Marcus Thornton (5.8) — ranks among the top 20 in the SEC in rebounding at 18th.

On again and off again, the Tigers haven’t lost back-to-back games all season after Saturday’s 82-74 win over visiting South Carolina followed Tuesday’s disappointing 77-71 loss at LSU. In SEC play, Missouri is 3-0 on Saturdays and 0-3 in weekday games.

With 24 points against the Gamecocks, junior guard Jabari Brown has scored at least 20 points in four straight games. He leads the SEC in scoring at 19.5 points per game.

After beating the Gators three straight times, Tennessee was a no show Saturday, going only 1-of-19 on 3-pointers. Junior forward Jarnell Stokes (16 points, 10 rebounds) had his 10th double-double of the season and 28th of his career, eighth-best in program history.

Wednesday’s 81-74 win over visiting Arkansas was huge because it came between road losses to Florida and Kentucky. Senior forward Jeronne Maymon had a season-high 17 points.

The Vols are 26-3 under third-year coach Cuonzo Martin when scoring at least 80 points.

Tennessee hit a season low in points and field goal percentage in its 67-41 loss to Florida on Saturday.

Junior guard Rashad Madden scored a career-high 24 points in Saturday’s 86-67 win over visiting Auburn. He has scored in double figures in 14 of the last 16 games. The win was the 250th of coach Mike Anderson’s career that also includes stints at UAB and Missouri.

With 21 assists, the Razorbacks have handed out at least 20 assists five times, all wins. Under Anderson, Arkansas is 80-1 when having at least 20 assists in a game.

The Hogs lead the SEC in scoring at 82.9 points per game.

Down by 19 points, the Tigers nearly rallied to win Saturday at Alabama before falling, 82-80, as a runner by junior guard Anthony Hickey with 4.4 seconds remaining to possibly force overtime was blocked. Junior forward Johnny O’Bryant III scored 16 of 18 points as part of LSU’s 57 second-half points.

In beating LSU for a ninth-straight time at Coleman Coliseum, the Crimson Tide are 26-2 in SEC home games dating back to the 2010-11 season. With 21 points, senior guard Trevor Releford has scored in double figures every game this season, and 20 in a row overall.

Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant, a former Florida assistant, is 0-7 against the Gators following Thursday’s loss.

The Aggies started SEC play 3-0, but losses at Mississippi State and Kentucky were followed by an embarrassing 66-55 home loss Saturday to Vanderbilt. Texas A&M shot only 33.3 percent in the game.

On the other side of the ball, the Aggies feature the second-best scoring defense (62.1) in the league.

With Wednesday’s 82-63 win over visiting Auburn followed by the road loss to Ole Miss, the Bulldogs are undefeated at home and winless on the road in league play. They play host to Florida on Thursday night.

Down to only seven scholarship players and nine total, Commodores coach Kevin Stallings turned to team manager Rob Cross to join the team so he could conduct five-on-five scrimmages. In winning their first visit to Texas A&M, 7-foot freshman Luke Kornet made 3-of-5 treys. In the last two years, the son of former Commodores standout Frank Kornet (1986-89) has grown nine inches, seven as a senior in high school and two since arriving at Vanderbilt.

Despite being winless in league play, Auburn’s loss to Arkansas on Saturday was the first game Auburn didn’t have a chance to win down the stretch.

Auburn has the SEC’s highest-scoring backcourt tandem. Junior KT Harrell (19.1) is second in the league, while senior Chris Denson (18.8) is fourth. Freshman point guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen had 17 points in the loss at Mississippi State.

Behind a career-high seven 3-pointers and 32 points from senior guard Brenton Williams and a double-double from sophomore forward Michael Carrera (16 points, 11 rebounds), the Gamecocks put up a stiff challenge before falling Saturday at Missouri.

Freshman guard Sindarius Thornwell had a career-high 26 points in the loss at Georgia. He leads the team in scoring (12.8) and has scored at least 20 points four times. Georgia’s 50 free throw attempts were most all-time by a Gamecocks opponent in league play.