1. Florida (15-2, 4-0)
2. Kentucky (13-4, 3-1)
3. Ole Miss (12-5, 3-1)
4. Texas A&M (12-5, 3-1)
5. Georgia (9-7, 3-1)
6. Missouri (14-3, 2-2)
7. Mississippi State (12-5, 2-2)
8. LSU (11-5, 2-2)
9. Tennessee (11-6, 2-2)
10. Alabama (8-9, 2-2)
11. Arkansas (12-5, 1-3)
12. Vanderbilt (9-7, 1-3)
13. Auburn (8-7, 0-4)
14.South Carolina (7-10, 0-4)
Week Two in the land of Dixie came and went on the hardwood, leaving in its wake only one undefeated team in league play, two outfits still searching for their first SEC victory and one major climber.
That team on the ascent is Ole Miss, which won both of its games this past week – 88-74 (OT) versus LSU and 75-74 at South Carolina – with wild man Marshall Henderson back from his two-game suspension. The never-bashful sharp-shooter christened his return to conference play with 25 points, on six made triples, and seven assists against the Tigers before posting 19 points and three steals in Columbia.
While the flashy Henderson (19.2 ppg) gets most of the ink, it’s high time fans recognize the exploits of his backcourt running mate, Jarvis Summers. The junior from Jackson, Miss., is averaging 18.1 points this season while also leading the Rebels in assists (3.6 apg) and three-point shooting percentage (53.4%) amongst regulars in the Ole Miss rotation. Together they’re forming arguably the best backcourt tandem in the SEC. And, with Vanderbilt and Mississippi State on the docket this week, Henderson and Summers have a real shot at getting Hotty Toddy off to a 5-1 start to SEC play.
The surging Rebels, and the rest of the league, are still chasing No. 7 Florida, which stands a game ahead of Ole Miss, No. 13 Kentucky (now 3-1 in the SEC after falling in an overtime heartbreaker at Arkansas) and the duo of Georgia and Texas A&M, both of which split this week after getting off to surprise 2-0 starts a week ago.
Billy Donovan’s Gators blew out rival Georgia on Tuesday night 72-50 before sliding past Auburn on the road 68-61 on Saturday. The SEC’s top team may have coasted a bit on the Plains, but Florida was working leading scorer Casey Prather back into the lineup after missing two games with a bruised knee. He finished the contest with 21 points and six rebounds. While Prather returned, there’s no end in sight to the Chris Walker Boycott still being staged by the NCAA. The 6-foot-9 McDonald’s All-American enrolled in school mid-December, but the NCAA won’t give Walker the go-ahead to play despite being cleared academically. Walker would make an already stout UF bunch one of the nation’s truly elite teams.
Toward the bottom of the league, Vanderbilt made the biggest noise with its 78-75 victory over Missouri in Nashville Thursday night. The ‘Dores, crippled by injury and attrition, gained a little separation from the SEC’s two cellar dwellers – Auburn and South Carolina.
Speaking of those Gamecocks, there was more than just two losses in the negative news department from the week that was. Second-year coach Frank Martin also lost his leading scorer, point guard Tyrone Johnson, for an extended period of time. The Villanova transfer, who was averaging 11.2 points and 3.4 assists, fractured his right foot during the team’s loss in College Station Wednesday night. The injury will require surgery and Johnson is out indefinitely.
BIGGEST WIN OF THE WEEK
Arkansas over No. 13 Kentucky, 87-85, in OT // The Hogs’ first ‘W’ in SEC play registered as the biggest win of the week as well as the best finish of the week by a landslide. Tied at 85 in overtime with a few seconds left, and facing the possibility of starting 0-3 in league play, Arkansas worked magic in Bud Walton Arena Tuesday night. A Rashad Madden three from the right corner glanced off the rim, ricocheted over to the left side, where Michael Qualls ferociously dunked the miss back home, sending the ball through the rim with 0.2 seconds left. It was enough to send Big Blue packing despite 23 points from James Young and a beastly 20-point, 14-rebound performance from fellow frosh Julius Randle. Madden and Qualls both finished with 18 points in a big win for the Razorbacks.
(An honorable mention in this category: Mississippi State over Texas A&M, 81-72, in OT. Rick Ray’s troops marched past the Aggies in Starkville on Saturday, evening State’s conference record at 2-2 and, in the process, giving Texas A&M its only blemish of the conference season through four games.)
HEAD-SCRATCHER OF THE WEEK
Vanderbilt over Missouri 78-75 // It’s this kind of result that helps eliminate the goodwill Mizzou built up in non-conference play, when the Tigers took care of No. 18 UCLA at home and N.C. State on the road on the way to a national ranking. After losing at home to Georgia in the team’s conference opener, Missouri threw up a stinker for the second straight week to usher in SEC action, falling on the road at undermanned Vanderbilt Thursday night. The Commodores’ Rob Odom notched a career-high 24 points on six made threes while Kyler Fuller chipped in 22 points from the VU backcourt. Not too shabby for Kevin Stallings’ squad, which is getting by these days with only seven scholarship players.
WHAT’S COMING NEXT WEEK
This is shaping up to be a week that separates the middle of the SEC pack. After four league games, there are five teams with 2-2 conference records – Missouri, Mississippi State, LSU, Tennessee and Alabama. LSU plays Missouri at home and then Alabama on the road, giving the Bayou Bengals an opportunity to put distance between themselves and the rest of the bunch. Tennessee hosts road-weary Arkansas on Wednesday before making the trip to Gainesville on Saturday. The Crimson Tide will also face No. 7 Florida, in Tuscaloosa on Thursday night. Finally, State hosts Auburn in the mid-week before traveling to Oxford for a date with rival Ole Miss this coming weekend. It will be interesting to see which (and how many) of these five still have their heads above water at the beginning of next week.
Alabama: vs. Florida (Thurs), vs. LSU (Sat)
Arkansas: at Tennessee (Wed), vs. Auburn (Sat)
Auburn: at Mississippi State (Wed), at Arkansas (Sat)
Florida: at Alabama (Thurs), vs. Tennessee (Sat)
Georgia: vs. South Carolina (Wed), at Kentucky (Sat)
Kentucky: vs. Texas A&M (Tues), vs. Georgia (Sat)
LSU: vs. Missouri (Tues), at Alabama (Sat)
Mississippi State: vs. Auburn (Wed), at Ole Miss (Sat)
Missouri: at LSU (Tues), vs. South Carolina (Sat)
Ole Miss: at Vanderbilt (Wed), vs. Mississippi State (Sat)
South Carolina: at Georgia (Wed), at Missouri (Sat)
Tennessee: vs. Arkansas (Wed), at Florida (Sat)
Texas A&M: at Kentucky (Tues), vs. Vanderbilt (Sat)
Vanderbilt: vs. Ole Miss (Wed), at Texas A&M (Sat)
Ben Love is the publisher of Scout.com’s LSU site, TigerSportsDigest.com. CLICK HERE to try a free seven-day trial at TSD, and CLICK HERE to visit the site’s premium message board.