1. Florida (17-2, 6-0)
2. Kentucky (15-4, 5-1)
3. Ole Miss (14-5, 5-1)
4. Georgia (10-8, 4-2)
5. Alabama (9-10, 3-3)
6. LSU (12-6, 3-3)
7. Mississippi State (13-6, 3-3)
8. Missouri (15-4, 3-3)
9. Tennessee (12-7, 3-3)
10. Texas A&M (12-7, 3-3)
11. Arkansas (13-6, 2-4)
12. Vanderbilt (10-8, 2-4)
13. Auburn (8-9, 0-6)
14. South Carolina (7-12, 0-6)
The top of the table remains the same in the SEC as No. 6 Florida, No. 14 Kentucky and Ole Miss were the only teams to win both of their week three games.
Andy Kennedy’s Rebels had little trouble dispatching of Vanderbilt and Mississippi State to move to 5-1 in league play. Ole Miss, winners of four straight, is making a real push to be the third conference team worthy of NCAA Tournament consideration, but, as the calendar is set to flip from January to February, only two SEC outfits can have any type of comfort regarding their postseason dance invitation.
Perennial powers Florida and Kentucky are those teams, and both are pointed in the right direction entering the middle third of the conference season. The Gators slid by Alabama in Tuscaloosa Thursday night before returning to the O’Dome to annihilate Tennessee Saturday on short rest. John Calipari’s Wildcats, playing both games in Rupp Arena, dusted off Texas A&M and Georgia by an average of 20.5 points.
After the top three comes surprising Georgia, which at 4-2 in the league serves as the buffer between the upper tier and the growing assemblage of average clubs. No less than four teams thought to be bubble-bound or close to it in the preseason are mired in that mediocrity.
Johnny Jones and LSU haven't been able to break through
LSU, Missouri and Tennessee are all 3-3 while Arkansas is a rung lower on the latter at 2-4. The primary reason all four of these squads have underachieved is something that’s plagued the league as a whole – road woes. Entering week four of SEC play, the above quartet is a combined 3-9 away from their respective home arenas. To further illustrate the difficulties of winning on the road in the SEC, consider that of 14 conference tilts this past week, only three were won by away teams – Florida at Alabama, Vanderbilt at Texas A&M and Ole Miss at Vanderbilt.
The biggest loser of the week in the SEC was Texas A&M, which lost to Kentucky and Vanderbilt to continue its freefall from a 3-0 start. The Aggies’ downward spiral dropped them from fourth to tenth in the league in one short week. Billy Kennedy’s bunch will have an opportunity to dig out of its hole with a road date at South Carolina Wednesday. If A&M doesn’t win that one, the losing streak will extend to five games, considering the Aggies travel to Gainesville this coming weekend.
Wrapping things up, it’s been hard not to notice three SEC coaches have gotten more from their teams than anticipated through six games of conference action. Georgia’s Mark Fox, Alabama’s Anthony Grant and Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings are not playing with what you would call a comparatively strong hand this season, but all three have guided their teams to improbable wins and respectability. They’re probably all chasing Andy Kennedy for SEC Coach of the Year honors, but kudos are definitely still due.
BIGGEST WIN OF THE WEEK
Alabama over LSU 82-80 // Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa continues to be haunted grounds for LSU, which lost a nail-biter Saturday night for its 10th straight defeat at Alabama. The Crimson Tide got 21 points from senior guard Trevor Releford and a career-high 17 points from freshman forward Shannon Hale, who hit what turned out to be the game-winning three with 37 seconds remaining. The Tigers made it interesting after that, with three made free throws from Andre Stringer, but a 10-foot floater from point guard Anthony Hickey that would’ve tied the game was blocked as time expired. Alabama prevailed, and LSU dropped its second straight heartbreaker on the road.
HEAD-SCRATCHER OF THE WEEK
Vanderbilt over Texas A&M 66-55 // For the second straight week the Commodores pulled an upset that lands them in this space. That Vandy is still getting it done with only seven scholarship players is a minor miracle. That the ‘Dores did it on the road this time around, in College Station, is even more impressive. James Siakam and Kyle Fuller combined for 41 of VU’s 66 points, leading Vanderbilt, which ended the game on a 14-7 run, over an Aggies’ team that is in dangerous footing these days, having lost three straight. Good win for Vanderbilt; worse loss for Texas A&M.
WHAT’S COMING NEXT WEEK
This is the week Kentucky will get some push back. After the ‘Cats got two straight at home last week, Big Blue Nation will take to the road for both games – at LSU Tuesday night and at Missouri Saturday afternoon. Both teams may be 3-3, but that’s due in large part to road regression. They’re a lot tougher at home, especially the Columbia-based Tigers, which just recently had a 26-game winning streak in Mizzou Arena snapped. For all the struggles LSU has endured, Johnny Jones’ Tigers do have the type of frontcourt that can match up well with Kentucky. In a number of ways, Coach Cal’s young Wildcats will be put to the test. Should they come out the other side unscathed and 7-1 in the league, Kentucky’s case for a two-seed come NCAA tourney time will be strengthened.
Alabama: at Auburn (Wed), vs. Tennessee (Sat)
Arkansas: vs. Missouri (Tues), at LSU (Sat)
Auburn: vs. Alabama (Wed), vs. Georgia (Sat)
Florida: at Mississippi State (Thurs), vs. Texas A&M (Sat)
Georgia: vs. Vanderbilt (Wed), at Auburn (Sat)
Kentucky: at LSU (Tues), at Missouri (Sat)
LSU: vs. Kentucky (Tues), vs. Arkansas (Sat)
Mississippi State: vs. Florida (Thurs), at Vanderbilt (Sat)
Missouri: at Arkansas (Tues), vs. Kentucky (Sat)
Ole Miss: at Tennessee (Wed), vs. South Carolina (Sat)
South Carolina: vs. Texas A&M (Wed), at Ole Miss (Sat)
Tennessee: vs. Ole Miss (Wed), at Alabama (Sat)
Texas A&M: at South Carolina (Wed), at Florida (Sat)
Vanderbilt: at Georgia (Wed), vs. Mississippi State (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.