SEC Basketball Power Rankings – 11/19

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    (Photo via Jim Brown/USA TODAY Sports)

    Football season is coming to an end, signaling the beginning of basketball season. Just a couple of years ago, SEC basketball was the laughing stock within the college basketball world. Now, the conference is arguably one of the top two leagues in the country.

    As the season moves along, we’ll rank the teams each Monday. Here is our first installment of our SEC Power Rankings for the games that have been played through Monday, Nov. 19.

    SEC Men’s Power Rankings (11/19)

    No. 1: Auburn

    Auburn basketball is as legit as it gets. The Tigers won a share of the SEC regular season title last year for the first time since 1999. In 2018-19, an even deeper Auburn team returns as it adds VCU-transfer Samir Doughty and gets back Austin Wiley as well as Danjel Purifoy.

    The additions of Doughty and Wiley have already paid off along with returning SEC stars Jared Harper and Bryce Brown, as Auburn has begun the season 3-0. The Tigers beat No. 25 Washington by 22 points on Nov. 9 and are playing great basketball headed into the Maui Invitational. Don’t be surprised if Auburn upsets Duke on Tuesday.

    No. 2: Tennessee

    The Vols have started off their season 3-0 with a double-digit win over Georgia Tech. Reigning SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams is off to another terrific start, averaging 22 points per game, second-most in the SEC.

    Tennessee has gotten off to a nice start without reigning SEC Sixth Man of the Year Lamonte Turner, who missed the first three games due to a shoulder injury. Head coach Rick Barnes said Monday that Turner would be good to go for tournament play in Brooklyn over Thanksgiving. The Vols will need Turner as it turns it attention to Louisville and potentially No. 2 Kansas in a tremendous early season test.

    No. 3: Mississippi State

    Mississippi State is at its best when its turning its defense into offense, and that’s exactly what the Bulldogs are doing to start the season. Led by Quinndary Weatherspoon and Tyson Carter — who both average 3.0 steals per game — Mississippi State leads the SEC in steals per game (12.0) and are off to a 3-0 start. With plenty of experience returning, the Bulldogs have impressed early on in wins over lesser opponents. It’ll face its first true test on Monday night when Mississippi State takes on Arizona State.

    No. 4: LSU

    Will Wade’s Tigers are loaded with NBA talent, and as a result, have gotten off to a 4-0 start, including an 85-76 win over Penny Hardaway’s new-look Memphis Tigers at home. Tremont Waters is the unquestioned leader of LSU, but paired with Skyler Mays, the guard tandem and Naz Reid will present a lot of problems for opponents this season.

    Speaking of Mays, check out this dunk.

    No. 5: Vanderbilt

    The 2018-19 Vanderbilt Commodores could be the 2017-18 Tennessee Volunteers in the sense that nobody is talking about them to begin the season, but everybody will be by the end of the season. Led by arguably the best point guard prospect in the country — Darius Garland — and Simisola Shittu, Vandy is the most underrated team in the SEC to begin the season. The Commodores are already out to a 3-0 start including a very impressive road win over USC.

    No. 6: Kentucky

    Kentucky has had as miserable a start for a team with three wins as anyone in the country. The Cats started off their season with a highly-anticipated match-up with No. 1 Duke and was thrashed 118-84. Granted, part of the beat down was a simple result of the Blue Devils’ dominance, but Kentucky didn’t look good and hasn’t looked all that great since. John Calipari’s Cats struggled in games against South Illinois and VMI before pulling away late. Against VMI, Bubba Parham dropped in 35 points, and the Wildcats didn’t have an answer for him. Kentucky could very well win the SEC this season, but its not playing particularly well at the moment and has a lot of work to do.

    No. 7: Arkansas

    Daniel Gafford is arguably the best returning big man in the SEC, though the Razorbacks lose a ton of production from last year’s squad. On Sunday, Gafford posted a double-double with 27 points and 12 rebounds to upset Indiana and earn SEC Player of the Week honors. Arkansas is a one-point loss to Texas away from being 3-0 to start the season.

    No. 8: Alabama

    The Crimson Tide are learning to deal with life without Collin Sexton, who was a first round draft pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers after one season in Tuscaloosa. Now the attention turns to Kira Lewis — a five-star signee — as well as John Petty, Herb Jones, and Donte Hall. Alabama fell to Northeastern 62-58 on Thursday, but they responded to beat Ball State on Friday and Wichita State on Sunday, 90-86. It may not be the prototypical Shockers team we’re used to, but its still a nice win for Avery Johnson’s crew nonetheless.

    No. 9: Florida

    Florida has been one of the more disappointing teams in the conference to begin the season. With high hopes to start the year, the Gators’ offense was completely inept in an embarrassing 81-60 season-opening loss to arch-rival Florida State. The Gators have since bounced back with wins over Charleston Southern and La Salle, but the offense has a ways to go if Florida wants to achieve something of significance this season.

    No. 10: Georgia

    Tom Crean has taken over as head coach in Athens, and through four games, is off to a decent start. Georgia is 3-1 with its only loss coming to Temple on the road. The Dawgs’ Nicolas Claxton is an imposing figure in the paint, and Rayshaun Hammonds has gotten off to a hot start on the offensive end. Georgia is averaging 87.3 points per game to begin the season — third best in the SEC.

    No. 11: Missouri

    The Tigers have run into bad luck in consecutive years. Last year, Michael Porter Jr. was lost for almost the entire season due to injury. This year, his brother, Jontay Porter, is out for the season due to a torn ACL. Missouri has still managed to begin the season 3-1 with wins over Central Arkansas, Kennesaw State, and Oregon State, but they were thrashed on the road by Iowa State, 76-59.

    No. 12: Ole Miss

    Kermit Davis is the other first-year head coach in the SEC. His Rebels have gotten off to a 1-1 start with a win over Western Michigan and a loss to Butler. Guard Terrence Davis is averaging 23.5 points to start the year — tops in the SEC.

    No. 13: South Carolina

    It’s weird to think the Gamecocks were in the Final Four less than two years ago. Since that run through March Madness, it’s been a rough stretch for Frank Martin’s Gamecocks. Chris Silva isn’t his normal self, and the offense has been inconsistent. As a result, South Carolina has lost to Providence and Stony Brook in the early stages of the season.

    No. 14: Texas A&M

    After losing quite a bit of talent off its roster from a season ago, the Aggies have gotten off to a miserable 1-3 start to the season which includes a 73-74 loss to UC Irvine and a 23-point loss on the road to No. 3 Gonzaga.