Four on the Floor
1. Kentucky Wildcats - The Wildcats handled their business both at home and on the road this past week. A pasting of Mississippi St. at Rupp Arena and a hard-fought victory against Vanderbilt later, Kentucky stands at the top of the conference with several challengers looking up at them.
2. Florida Gators - It was far from easy, but the Florida Gators came away with a dramatic victory in overtime against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Scottie Wilbekin dropped in a floater with two seconds remaining in regulation to send the game into OT, and from there it was Wilbekin and Dorian Finney-Smith who finished the game off.
3. Texas A&M Aggies - The Texas A&M Aggies are unbeaten through the first week of SEC play. Not many were expecting that, considering that the Aggies' first week featured games against Arkansas and a road game against the Tennessee Volunteers. But Billy Kennedy's club has jumped out to a great start, in any event.
4. Georgia Bulldogs - The Georgia Bulldogs pulled off an unexpected victory at the hands of the Missouri Tigers last Wednesday. All credit goes to the Bulldogs, whose coach Mark Fox led the team with a heavy heart; he was at his father's funeral only 24 hours before the game. The Bulldogs followed up their startling victory with a win against Alabama.
Mizzou's Tough Loss, and What It Means Going Forward
While this was not something people saw coming at this point in the season, it certainly is a wakeup call.
The Missouri Tigers, who now are amongst the unranked teams in the nation, suffered a troubling loss to the Georgia Bulldogs last Wednesday night. While credit goes to Georgia for a great performance, this was an underwhelming performance from the Tigers against a team who was not exactly otherworldly beforehand. Missouri was simply outperformed in most facets for the entire game.
Their eFG% was just 44.6 percent, their Off. Rebounding% was just 20.0 percent and their Free Throw Rate was only 37.5 percent. Georgia, meanwhile, shot an eFG% of 47.5 percent, had an Off. Rebounding% of 35.7 percent, and had a Free Throw Rate of 43.3 percent. The simple, obvious truth is that if you are losing in those departments, you are not going to get it done on the scoreboard.
There is no denying that the Tigers have shown potential this season. Their victory over UCLA, as well as their one-point loss to Illinois, shows what kind of team the Tigers can be. But there could be a growing concern in how Missouri's defense has been playing as of late. In four of their last five games, they have yielded an eFG% of >45.9 percent, including 50.9 percent to the Auburn Tigers on Saturday afternoon. While the Tigers' season average is 44.1 percent, 25th best in the nation, that number has only been increasing in their last few meetings.
Making sense of this all will take time. But, the Tigers simply cannot afford to take losses such as the one they suffered last Wednesday. They must buckle up, because the concerns and doubt will only continue to pile up.
Aggies Thrill in Tennessee
The Texas A&M Aggies followed up a home victory against the Arkansas Razorbacks with a startling victory against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday. Led by Jamal Jones' 23 points in 33 minutes, and 24 points in the final 10 minutes, the Aggies skated past the Volunteers 57-56.
Jones' success this season has certainly been one reason why the Aggies have done well this season. In his last seven games, the JUCO transfer from Lee College has scored an average of 14.14 points per game. This includes two 20-point performances against Tennessee and Houston, as well. But Jones is not the only reason that the Aggies have been surprising this season.
You might not know it, but the Aggies from top to bottom are a very solid defensive team. In most statistical categories, Billy Kennedy's group ranks inside the Top 50, including Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, Effective FG%, Free Throw Rate, 3PT%, 2PT% and Block%. The Aggies are allowing just 93.2 points per 100 possessions, which is good for 18th in the country, and an Effective FG% of just 34.2 percent, 16th best in the country. Only 30.0 percent of 3-point attempts are falling and 42.2 percent of 2-point attempts are being converted against the Aggies, ranking 35th and 17th amongst their peers, respectively.
If Texas A&M keeps up this defensive performance going forward, they will be hard to beat anywhere they go.
Mann Delivers Top Performances of the Week
Georgia's Charles Mann was outstanding enough to take home the SEC Player of the Week honors for his performances against Missouri and Alabama. Mann, a native of Queens, N.Y., was integral in the Bulldogs' startling upset against the Tigers and played well in his follow-up against the Crimson Tide. The sophomore guard, now hailing from Alpharetta, Ga. scored 18 points and shot 58.3 percent against Missouri on Wednesday night, while also adding four assists and six rebounds. Mann then followed that up with a 22-point performance against Alabama, while shooting a near-impeccable 76.5 percent from the free throw line on 17 attempts.
The Week Ahead
Non-Ranked Team to Watch: Tennessee
In the wake of their mishap against Texas A&M, the Tennessee Volunteers find themselves in prime position to get back on track. On Wednesday, they will host the struggling Auburn Tigers, who fell in bizarre fashion to Missouri on Saturday. Then, the Volunteers head to Lexington to take on the Kentucky Wildcats. While you should not put Kentucky on "upset alert," it should not surprise if Tennessee gives Kentucky all they can handle.
Game of the Week: Tennessee-Kentucky
Kentucky-Arkansas just fell on the short end of the stick this week. Florida-Georgia was also put into consideration, but Saturday's matchup between the Volunteers and the Wildcats should deliver the goods. Keep a sharp eye on how Tennessee decides to defend freshman phenom Julius Randle. Randle has given teams fits this season almost on a nightly basis, as he has averaged 16.7 points per game and 10.9 rebounds per game. Tennessee may decide to put Jeronne Maymon on Randle, and Maymon has been solid in the rebounding department, averaging 8.4 rebounds per game.
7 p.m. ET - Georgia vs. Florida (ESPNU)
9 p.m. ET - Kentucky vs. Arkansas (ESPN)
7 p.m. ET - Auburn vs. Tennessee (CSS/ESPN3)
8 p.m. ET - Mississippi St. vs. Alabama (ESPN3)
8 p.m. ET - South Carolina vs. Texas A&M (ESPN3)
9 p.m. ET - LSU vs. Ole Miss (CSS/ESPN3)
7 p.m. ET - Missouri vs. Vanderbilt (ESPN2)
Noon ET - Tennessee vs. Kentucky (CBS)
1:30 p.m. ET - Texas A&M vs. Mississippi St. (ESPN3)
1:30 p.m. ET - Arkansas vs. Georgia (ESPN3)
2 p.m. ET - Alabama vs. Missouri (ESPN)
4 p.m. ET - Florida vs. Auburn (ESPN3)
4:30 p.m. ET - Ole Miss vs. South Carolina (FSN/ESPN3)
9 p.m. ET - Vanderbilt vs. LSU (ESPNU)