The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

SEC Basketball Power Rankings: Auburn, then Everyone Else

The Auburn Tigers are still far and away No. 1 as SEC play heads into February.
Hunter Long
Scotty Pippen Jr. drives on Jimmy Whitt Jr. in Vanderbilt’s SEC Tournament loss to Arkansas in 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Hunter Long)

Sixteen. That’s how many wins in a row the newly ranked No. 1 Auburn Tigers have since their last loss at the Battle 4 Atlantis in November. Unfortunately, that is about the most certain thing there is about SEC basketball this season. 

Following nearly three wild weeks of SEC play, how these teams stack up has dramatically changed. Outside of Auburn on top, many spots are still up for grabs as the SEC’s top teams fade in and out. There’s a lot of basketball left to be played, and whichever teams heat up soon could position themselves very well by the time March rolls around. 

Auburn Tigers 19-1 (8-0)

There’s no denying that Auburn has not only been the SEC’s strongest basketball team, but one of the most dominant teams in the country. Following their nailbiting 55-54 win over Missouri, the Tigers improved to 19-1 on the season and extended their win streak to 16 games. This Missouri game was a bit of an outlier for the Tigers—they entered this game having won their first seven games in SEC play by nine or more points. Regardless of their most recent game, Auburn has positioned themselves atop the SEC standings and firmly in the national title conversation. Look for the Tigers to continue dominating as they play Oklahoma in the Big 12/SEC Challenge this Saturday.  

Kentucky Wildcats 16-4 (6-2)

After their four-game winning streak was halted at top-ranked Auburn last Saturday, the Kentucky Wildcats barely scraped by Mississippi State on Tuesday, winning in overtime 82-74 for coach John Calipari’s 800th career victory. Kentucky went into halftime with a 13-point advantage but was outscored 48-35 in the second half by allowing the Bulldogs to go on multiple runs. The Wildcats shot 47% from the field but only 26% from 3 which allowed Mississippi State to hang around. Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe recorded a monster double-double with 21 points and 22 rebounds while guard Kellen Grady added 18 points in the effort. Kentucky faces their second top-five opponent in three games this Saturday when it plays No. 5 Kansas in the Big 12/SEC Challenge at Allen Fieldhouse. 

Arkansas Razorbacks 15-5 (5-3)

The Razorbacks have been a tough team to figure out this year. After winning their first nine games of the season, Arkansas would go on to lose five of their next six games. Since then, the Hogs have fired back to win five straight, including a win over a strong LSU team. The Razorbacks play at one of the fastest paces in the country, ranking No. 19 in KenPom in terms of Adjusted Tempo. Four of their five losses have come against teams outside of the top 200 in that statistic. When Arkansas sets a fast pace, they’re nearly unbeatable, but look for them to struggle against slower paced teams as the season continues. The Razorbacks will play West Virginia in the Big 12/SEC Challenge this Saturday, a team that ranks 163rd in Adjusted Tempo.

Tennessee Volunteers 14-5 (5-3)

The Tennessee Volunteers have rolled off three straight victories following their 107-79 drubbing at the hands of Kentucky at Rupp Arena in Lexington. Over the stretch, the Volunteers have shot 40% from the field while averaging 70 points per game. Santiago Vescovi and Kennedy Chandler have paced the Vols in scoring this season, averaging 14.6 and 13.5 points per game respectively. Tennessee is currently 4th in the SEC standings and 14th in Ken Pomeroy’s Rankings. The AP poll’s No. 18-ranked Volunteers will pay former Vanderbilt forward Dylan Disu and Texas a visit in Austin on Saturday as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. 

LSU Tigers 16-4 (4-4)

To begin this season, LSU looked like they could be one of the premier teams in the SEC. The Tigers opened up the season 15-1, with their sole loss coming against now No. 1 Auburn. Since then, LSU has dropped three of four games, bouncing back last Wednesday with a win over Texas A&M. The bread and butter for this LSU team is defense—they rank No. 1 in KenPom’s defensive efficiency, and have not allowed an opponent to score more than 70 points this year. For the Tigers, it will simply come down to if they can get enough offensive production to complement their premier defense. Look for them to continue getting back on track this Saturday against TCU.

Alabama Crimson Tide 13-7 (4-4)

Last season’s SEC Tournament Champions Alabama have not exactly lived up to expectations so far this season. The Crimson Tide started off the season hot, defeating No. 2 Gonzaga as part of a 7-1 record but have suffered disappointing results in SEC play thus far, most recently losing to bottom ranked Georgia in Athens on Tuesday. Guard Jahvon Quinerly was held to five points in the game as Alabama squandered a halftime lead to ultimately fall 82-76. Head coach Nate Oats will need to get his team going but it won’t get any easier in the immediate future as Alabama plays host to No. 4 Baylor on Saturday and then travels to face rival No. 1 Auburn next Tuesday. 

Texas A&M Aggies 15-5 (4-3)

As this season got underway, Texas A&M looked like one of the strongest teams in the SEC. They opened with a 15-2 record, and won their first four SEC matchups. Since then the Aggies have dropped three straight games as their schedule has gotten tougher, losing to Kentucky, Arkansas, and LSU. This is a team that can clearly take care of business against weaker opponents, but their matchups against stronger SEC teams have been a problem. This Saturday, A&M will look to snap their losing streak against South Carolina. 

Mississippi State Bulldogs 13-6 (4-3)

The Mississippi State Bulldogs go as guard Iverson Moliner goes. The SEC’s 3rd leading scorer is also the 5th most efficient player in the conference, shooting 49.8% from the field through Wednesday’s contests. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they were not able to capitalize on Moliner’s 30 points in a loss against Kentucky on Tuesday. Mississippi State only had one other player score in double figures and two starters score less than five points. Against a talented Kentucky team, this is not a recipe for success. The Bulldogs will look for the supporting cast to step up against No. 13 Texas Tech on Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. 

South Carolina Gamecocks 12-7 (3-4)

As SEC play has opened up, South Carolina has largely taken care of business. They currently hold a record of 3-4 in conference play, and three of their losses have come against some of the SEC’s stronger teams (Auburn, Tennessee, and Arkansas). Overall, the Gamecocks seem squarely in the middle of the SEC standings, as they’ll beat up on weaker opponents but lose to teams at the top of the standings. This team has a strong defense, ranking 31st in KenPom, so with some more offensive production South Carolina could become more of a threat. They’ll look to extend their two-game win streak as they play Texas A&M this Saturday. 

Florida Gators 12-8 (3-5) 

The Florida Gators have dropped two contests in a row after rattling off a mini three-game winning streak to bring their SEC record to 3-5. The Gators appeared to be on their way to a potential upset of Tennessee on Wednesday, holding an eight-point halftime lead, but were outscored by 15 in the second half. Florida could not stop Volunteer guards Santiago Vescovi and Kennedy Chandler as they both scored in double figures. With the recent losses, KenPom has the Gators ranked 44th, good for eighth in the SEC. They will look to snap the losing streak when they play host to Oklahoma State on Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. 

Vanderbilt Commodores 10-9 (2-5)

Coming into conference play, Vanderbilt appeared to be far and away better than in years past. They wrapped up 2021 with a Diamond Head Classic title, and upset Arkansas in their SEC-opener.  Since then, the Commodores are 1-5 in SEC play and have dropped three straight matchups. This is a team that certainly likes to play slow and rely on their defense, but as of late, the offensive production hasn’t been there to execute and win games. This Saturday, they’ll head back home, hoping to bounce back against a weak Georgia team at Memorial Gymnasium. 

Ole Miss Rebels 10-10 (2-6)

The Ole Miss Rebels are 1-4 in their last five games after starting the season 8-3. In those four defeats, the Rebels have lost by an average of 15.5 points, including a 25-point loss to Missouri. In their most recent contest against Arkansas, a 64-55 loss, Ole Miss only made four 3-pointers while shooting sub-40% from the field despite holding the rebounding advantage and drawing even on turnovers. The Rebels will look to stop their recent skid when it faces Kansas State, a team that suffered their own 25-point loss on Tuesday, in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. 

Missouri Tigers 8-11 (2-5)

Missouri has been tough to figure out this season. They are by no means a top team in college basketball, as they have an 8-11 record, but they have also played the 6th most difficult schedule in the country according to KenPom. Their most recent matchup was a one-point nailbiter against No. 1 Auburn, and they upset then-No. 15 Alabama earlier this month. While this team is certainly not in the conversation for an SEC title, the Tigers have shown flashes of being a competitive team. They’ll continue their tough schedule with a matchup against No. 23 Iowa State this Saturday. 

Georgia Bulldogs 6-14 (1-6)

In a season where there has not been much to celebrate, Georgia men’s basketball can at least hang their hat on being the second Bulldog team to defeat an Alabama team in the last three weeks. The Georgia Bulldogs railled following a first half deficit to beat the Crimson Tide 82-76 at home on Tuesday for their first SEC win of the season. Three players scored in double figures as the Bulldogs shot 34% from three and 44% from the field despite losing the rebound battle. Georgia will look to match their season-long winning streak of two games when it comes to Nashville on Saturday to face the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Leave a comment
About the Contributors
Bobby Kent
Bobby Kent, Former Senior Staff Writer
Bobby Kent (’23) was a Senior Staff Writer for The Hustler Sports section, having been on staff since his first semester at Vanderbilt. Bobby was also the Sports Director for VandyRadio, co-host of Kent and Coad, a weekly sports talk show on VandyRadio and the host of VU Sports Wired, a Vanderbilt Video Productions and Hustler Sports Television show. Bobby previously interned at CNN Sports where he assisted in producing studio shows, writing anchor scripts and creating fullscreen graphics. He also wrote an article about Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo for that was a top 5 story for digital. He was an economics major in the College of Arts and Science with a minor in business. Bobby has been a dedicated sports fan ever since he was little and loves to track the decisions made by front offices, players and coaches. Bobby hopes to one day have a career in the business of professional sports either in sports media or with a professional sports organization. When not writing articles, providing opinions about Vanderbilt sports on TV or serving hot takes in the radio studio, Bobby can be found watching his beloved Philadelphia sports teams and watching the Eagles fly. He can be reached at [email protected].    
Jack Bukovnik
Jack Bukovnik, Staff Writer
Jack Bukovnik (2024) is a student in the College of Arts and Science studying Economics and Political Science. When not writing for the Hustler, you'll find Jack watching baseball, cheering for his hometown Cleveland Browns, or finding a good movie. You can reach Jack at [email protected]
Hunter Long
Hunter Long, Former Multimedia Director
Hunter Long (’21) is from Austin, TX and double majored in molecular biology and medicine, health and society. He is an avid lover of film photography, good music and all things coffee. He can be reached at [email protected].    
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
All The Vanderbilt Hustler picks Reader picks Sort: Newest
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments