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 Women’s Basketball Midseason Power Rankings: A rose and a thorn

Two undefeated teams sit atop the SEC, while Vanderbilt still struggles to earn its first conference win.
Marnelle+Garraud+catches+fire+from+beyond-the-arc+against+Arkansas+on+January+16%2C+2023+%28Vanderbilt+Athletics%29.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Marnelle Garraud catches fire from beyond-the-arc against Arkansas on January 16, 2023 (Vanderbilt Athletics).

Three weeks into conference play, things are really starting to shake out in the SEC. Three teams — South Carolina, LSU and Tennessee — have dominated the field and have each jumped out to 6-0 starts within the conference. On the other hand, Auburn, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M have failed to capture an SEC victory.

The Vanderbilt Hustler takes a deeper look at each team’s season thus far, assigning a rose — a positive — and a thorn — a negative — to each team. 

1. South Carolina (18-0)

Rose: Everything. It’s hard to point out a single flaw in this dominant South Carolina team. The Gamecocks boast a 24-game win streak dating back to last March. They average 81.7 points per game and allow only 45.5 PPG to opponents. 

Thorn: Three-point shooting. As a team, the Gamecocks shoot just 31% from beyond the arc, which checks in at 10th in the SEC. Aliyah Boston, for all of her post-dominance, is shooting an abysmal 10%t from downtown. 

2. LSU (18-0)

Rose: Sophomore forward Angel Reese is making her case as the best player in the nation, averaging 23.9 points, 15.4 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. She is a double-double machine, posting 10+ points and rebounds in all 18 games she’s played this season. Reese and Co. have led the Tigers to an SEC-best plus-38.1 point margin. 

Thorn: It’s genuinely hard to identify a single thorn for this team. The Tigers are among the top 5 in the SEC in nearly every statistical category, both offensively and defensively. Perhaps one thing worth noting is that their top two scorers, Reese and Flau’Jae Johnson, are both relatively inexperienced. With Reese being a sophomore and Johnson being a freshman this lack of experience could pose issues as postseason play begins.

3. Arkansas (17-3)

Rose: An incredibly balanced starting lineup. Arkansas has all five of its starters scoring in double figures. Beyond that, the group has also shown an ability to space the floor, as four of them are shooting at a clip of 32% from downtown. While the numbers aren’t spectacular, the threat of all four being able to knock down a shot forces opposing defenses to commit to stopping the deep ball. 

Thorn: The Razorbacks, despite scoring 77.3 PPG — fourth in the conference —- have struggled to shoot the ball efficiently. Their 42.0% shooting from the field ranks near the bottom of the conference. An improvement in efficiency could elevate their scoring to a whole new level.

4. Tennessee (14-6) 

Rose: The Lady Volunteers are excellent at home, boasting a 10-2 record in games played at home in Knoxville. Their last home loss dates back to December 4 against Virginia Tech.

Thorn: Tennessee has completely failed to get it done against the best of the best. The team entered the season with high aspirations, ranked at No. 5 in the AP Poll. Yet, they are 0-4 against AP top-25 teams. They’ll have chances in the future, with back-to-back top-5 matchups against No. 5 UConn and No. 3 LSU next week. 

5. Alabama (14-4)

Rose: Alabama sits atop the SEC in 3-point shooting percentage. The Crimson Tide are shooting a blistering 38.7% from deep, led by sharpshooting wings Aaliyah Nye and Hannah Barber, who are shooting at 46.4% and 48.5%, respectively.

Thorn: Alabama might be a little too reliant on Brittany Davis. The senior guard is averaging 17.8 PPG, but the Crimson Tide do not have another player on the roster averaging more than 9 PPG. If it wants to continue to find success, especially as the team prepares to face some of the top SEC teams, Alabama might need a No. 2 option to step up. 

6. Ole Miss (16-3)

Rose: It has been nothing short of an impressive season for Ole Miss, and that performance has been spurred on by stifling defense. They’ve allowed just 52.4 PPG, the third-best mark in the SEC. 

Thorn: Outside of excellent team defense, the Rebels have failed to impress in any one statistic. They sit in the middle of the pack in the SEC in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks per game. 

7. Mississippi State (13-5)

Rose: Mississippi State ranks third in the conference in both steals and blocks per game, at 10.6 and 5.6, respectively. Led by 6-foot-5 senior Jessika Carter — who is averaging 2.7 blocks per game, the Bulldogs are dominant inside the paint 

Thorn: Mississippi State has struggled thus far in the SEC. The Bulldogs did have big road wins against Vanderbilt and Texas A&M. Yet, they also failed to capture victories against any of the other SEC teams that they’ve played (Ole Miss, Tennessee and No. 1 South Carolina), which lands them lower in our rankings than the statistics would suggest. 

8. Missouri (14-5)

Rose: Missouri shoots the 3-pointer at a pretty effective clip, ranking fourth in the SEC at 34.8%. The team’s two star players, Lauren Hansen and Hayley Frank, shoot at 34.9% and 39.3%, respectively. Both are volume shooters, putting up over five deep balls per game, so their efficiency is impressive considering the high number of shots they take. 

Thorn: There are a few options here. The most glaring comes in the form of a three-game losing streak of 20-plus points. After getting out to a favorable start in conference play, the Tigers have dropped their last three against Arkansas, No. 3 LSU and No. 1 South Carolina. Still, the Tigers, projected to finish twelfth in the SEC, have to be proud of their 14-5 record. 

9. Georgia (13-7)

Rose: Taking care of business when they need to. The Lady Bulldogs jumped out to a 7-0 start this season against the inferior teams on their schedule. They have done the same in the SEC. Despite falling to powerhouses Ole Miss, Alabama, No. 1 South Carolina and Tennessee, Georgia has defeated Kentucky and Florida, keeping themselves afloat in the conference. 

Thorn: Offense. The Bulldogs average just 66.6 PPG, which ranks 13th in the SEC. They also rank towards the bottom of the conference in 3-point percentage at 28.9%. They’ll need to improve on both if they want to start beating some stronger conference opponents that lie ahead.

10. Kentucky (9-9)

Rose: Team basketball. The Wildcats have three players scoring in double figures and are averaging 15.2 PPG, good for fifth in the SEC. They also average 10.8 steals per game, and rank No. 1 in the conference in that figure. 

Thorn: Despite leading the conference in steals per game, the Wildcats have struggled mightily when it comes to keeping opposing teams from scoring. They allow a conference-high 67.7 PPG. 

11. Florida (12-6)

Rose: Hope down the line. Florida was 10-1 before star point guard Leilani Correa went down with an injury. The senior was averaging 15.1 points, 1.8 assists and 2.1 steals per game before an unknown injury sidelined her for over a month. Correa made her return to the lineup in the Gators’ loss to Kentucky but played only 20 minutes (compared to her season average of 26.5). As Correa continues to get comfortable again, expect the Gators to become more competitive. 

Thorn: Sloppy play. The Gators average 17.3 turnovers per game, the third-most in the conference. They also commit 19.4 personal fouls per game, the second-highest in the league. The return of Correa should help, but the Gators must fix the mistakes if they want to turn their season back around. 

12. Auburn (10-7)

Rose: It’s hard to find many strengths for a team that has lost all five of its conference games, but every flower, no matter how rotten, has a rose. Auburn forces the third-most turnovers (19.8) in the conference. 

Thorn: Pretty much everything else. Of the Tigers’ five SEC losses, four of them have come by a margin of 32-plus points. The fact of the matter remains that the Tigers do not have the offensive firepower, nor the defensive acumen, to compete with many of the other teams in the SEC. 

13. Vanderbilt (9-10)

Rose: Ciaja Harbison. The transfer from St. Louis has been a complete revelation for the Commodores, averaging 19.0 points, 4.9 assists and 1.9 steals per game. Vanderbilt never stood much of a chance this season after losing its top three players to season-ending injuries over the summer, but it’s nice to see Harbison balling out.

Thorn: Vanderbilt ranks in the bottom four of the SEC in PPG and allowed PPG. With only eight players left in a depleted rotation, Vanderbilt does not possess the depth to find success in many of these games. And, of course, it doesn’t help that they fell just short against a very good Arkansas team after the Razorbacks drilled a deep, off-balance, bank-shot triple to win it at the buzzer. 

14. Texas A&M (5-11)

Rose: It’s hard to find a true strength for a team that has struggled to compete all season and is the only team in the conference that has a negative point differential (1.7). It also doesn’t help that freshman Janiah Barker, the team’s leading scorer, broke her wrist in November and doesn’t look like she’ll be returning any time soon. That said, the Aggies’ defense has been solid. They are right around the middle of the pack in the SEC in that statistic, but, hey, in a lost season, maybe that isn’t so bad. And they still have the same amount of wins as the Aggies’ football team!

Thorn: They average 51.5 PPG, last in the SEC by a margin of over 15 points. LSU averages nearly 40 more points than them. Let that sink in. They lead the SEC in turnovers, average the fewest assists and the lowest 3-point percentage, as well.

Leave a comment
About the Contributor
Aiden Rutman
Aiden Rutman, Sports Editor
Aiden Rutman (‘25) is a student in Peabody College majoring in human and organizational development and minoring in communication studies. He formerly produced The Hustler’s sports podcast, Live from West End. In addition to writing and podcasting, Aiden is an avid New York sports fan, and he loves playing sports, spending time outdoors and trying new foods. You can reach him 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
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments