The Southeastern conference is off to a fast start this college basketball season. The first AP poll release of December contains three schools inside the top eight with Florida (5), Texas A&M (7) and Kentucky (8) representing the league. Tennessee is the fourth SEC team ranked, checking-in at 24 while Mississippi State, Alabama and Georgia all received votes. Florida already fell this week, losing last night to rival Florida State. That kicked-off a big week for the league that continues with #7 Texas A&M traveling to Arizona tonight.
1. Texas A&M (7-0: Last Week: 3)
The Aggies traveled to then-ranked #10 Southern California and hammered the Trojans by a score of 75-59. Junior guard D.J. Hogg scored 15 in the win over USC and then scored 16 as they cruised past UT-Rio Grande. The Aggies have climbed all the way to seventh in the AP after starting at 25. They travel to face a talented but struggling Arizona team that was once number two in the polls. That will be their last major-conference opponent before facing Alabama in their SEC opener at the end of the month.
2. Kentucky (5-1: Last Week: 1)
Kentucky took care of business against Illinois-Chicago and Harvard last week. They fall from the top due to the quality wins Florida and A&M hold and that could be the case for a while. The Cats will not play a currently ranked team until Tennessee in January. They do have quality teams on the schedule however, hosting Virginia Tech, UCLA and Louisville before league play begins.
3. Florida (5-1: Last week: 2)
The Gators could have entered this week as the number one team in the land had they held on against Duke. They went 2-1 at the PK80 tournament, thrashing Stanford before knocking off #12 Gonzaga in a double-OT thriller. They then took on #1 Duke in the final and led most of the game, even by double-digits late in the second half. They then went ice-cold, failing to score in the final 2:40, allowing Duke to finish on an 8-0 run and win the game. They then suffered a heavy, 17-point home-loss to in-state rival Florida State. They’ll look to bounce back against Loyola (IL) before traveling to #17 Cincinnati.
4. Tennessee (6-1: Last Week: 6)
Nobody in all off college basketball may be off to a more surprising start than Rick Barnes’ Tennessee Vols. After being predicted to finish 13th in the SEC preseason poll, the Vols checked-in at 24 in this weeks AP poll. They knocked off NC State, Mercer and Georgia Tech after suffering their only defeat to #4 Villanova. Four different Volunteers are averaging double figures, led by sophomore forward Grant Williams, averaging 15.7 a game. They play Lipscomb before taking a week off to get ready to host the defending champion North Carolina Tar Heels.
5. Alabama (6-2: Last Week: 4)
The Crimson Tide suffered an 89-84 defeat to #14 Minnesota in one of the most bizarre games in college basketball history. The Tide bench stepped on the court during a scuffle, leading to the entire bench being ejected despite not touching a player. Then Dazon Ingram fouled out and John Petty picked up an injury, forcing Alabama to play 5-on-3 for the final 10:47. They out-scored Minnesota during that span with freshman star Collin Sexton scoring 40 in the defeat. Alabama finished the week at 2-2 after losing at home to UCF by three to knock them out of the AP poll for the week. They’ll have a chance to get back into the top 25, playing two potential tournament teams this week in Rhode Island and Arizona.
6. Mississippi State (7-0: Last Week: 13)
Ben Howland’s Bulldogs make the biggest jump this week after going 3-0, including a 61-59 win over Dayton. That prompted the Bulldogs to receive votes in this weeks AP Poll as one of only two unbeaten teams in the SEC. All five of the Bulldog starters are averaging double figures, including sophomore guard Tyson Carter. Carter took home SEC player of the week honors after scoring 35 and 20 in wins over North Dakota State and Dayton respectively. They play North Georiga before traveling to #17 Cincinnati.
7. Georgia (6-1: Last Week: 9)
Georgia split a pair of games at the Wooden invitational, suffering a seven point lost to San Diego State before knocking off then-ranked #21 St. Mary’s in overtime. They followed that up with a road-win at Marquette. Yante Maten continues to dominate for Georiga, averaging 17.6 points and 9.1 rebounds a game. They play Winthrop and UMass before taking on Georgia Tech and Temple later this month.
8. Missouri (6-2: Last Week: 8)
The Tigers picked up a couple nice wins over St. Johns and UCF over the past week but suffered their second loss to #23 West Virginia by four. They should be able to pick up a few wins this week as they host Miami (OH) and Green Bay.
9. South Carolina (6-2: Last Week: 7)
The Gamecocks sandwiched a 16-point loss to Temple with wins over Florida International and UMass. USC only defeated the Minutemen by six, making coach Frank Martin to feel pretty upset in the post-game. Martin said that the job is staff is doing is “pathetic” and that the team had regressed over the week. The bright spot from the win over UMass was freshman Justin Minaya. He scored 17 in the win, hitting double-figures for the third straight game. Carolina faces Wyoming and Coastal Carolina before traveling to Clemson on Dec. 19.
10. Auburn (6-1: Last Week: 14)
Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley are still suspended but the Tigers cruised to wins over Winthrop, Dayton and George Mason the past week. Mustapha Heron and Bryce Brown are both averaging 17 points per game to lead the team. The Tigers could take advantage of a weak non-conference schedule and only have one or two losses when league play starts. They take on Gardner-Webb and UAB this week.
11. Arkansas (5-2: Last Week: 5)
The Hogs had a strange week. They suffered a 19-point loss to North Carolina, which almost expected. They then hammered UCONN 102-67. What sends Arkansas towards the bottom is their 91-65 loss to a Houston team that lost to Drexel. They have another tough week coming as they host Colorado State and #14 Minnesota.
12. LSU (4-2: Last Week: 12)
The Tigers stay in their spot after defeating Tennessee-Martin by 24. They play UNC-Wilmington and Houston this coming week.
13. Ole Miss (4-3: Last Week: 9)
The Rebels had a rough week after suffering two overtime defeats in Oxford. The first was a 99-97 loss to South Dakota State and before an 83-80 loss to Virginia Tech. They’ll have to bounce back quick as they take on a tricky Middle Tennessee State team and Sam Houston State this week.
14. Vanderbilt (3-5: Last Week: 11)
Vandy suffered their fifth defeat over the weekend, falling to Kansas State by five. They also lost to Seton Hall by 13 before defeating Radford. The Commodores have only beaten Austin-Peay, UNC-Asheville and Radford on the year. They face two ranked opponents in their next five (at #16 Arizona State and at #5 Florida).