Four on the Floor
1. Florida Gators - As we'll delve into later, the Florida Gators are fresh off of a tremendous performance against the rival Tennessee Volunteers. After suffering three consecutive defeats to the Vols, Florida finally got back into the win column with an impressive 67-41 victory over Cuonzo Martin's club, and vaunted up to the No. 3 ranking in the Associated Press poll as a result.
2. Kentucky Wildcats - Kentucky has put their loss to Arkansas way behind them in the rearview mirror and have reeled off three straight victories since the last second defeat inside Bud Walton Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 18. The sensational freshman big man Julius Randle has been an integral piece of this recent win streak, and they will look to him to continue to power the Wildcats ahead as the season wears on.
3. Ole Miss Rebels - Very, very quietly, the Ole Miss Rebels are piecing together a solid run through the Southeastern Conference. They currently stand at 5-1 in league play, and have won their last four games in a row. We might find out a lot about this club in the next two weeks though, with meetings at Tennessee and Kentucky, and playing host to Missouri in their very near future.
4. Tennessee Volunteers - Although they have suffered defeats to both Kentucky and Florida in the last two weeks, the Tennessee Volunteers at this point still stand a chance of putting together a good résumé for this season. They still play host to Florida later this season, as well as Missouri and also will take a trip to Columbia to take on the Tigers on the 15th of February. There's still time for the Volunteers to make noise, that's for certain.
Florida Rises After Beatdown of Tennessee
Even though Billy Donovan's clubs have had so much success over the last few seasons, the Gators have recently been bitten by the Tennessee Volunteers. Before Saturday afternoon's matchup in Gainesville, the Vols had won three of the last meetings between the two SEC foes and although unranked, the team donned in orange and cream was still not a team to be overlooked going into this matchup.
Unfortunately for Tennessee, the game looked to be over before it started. The Gators pasted their rivals, finally getting back to winning games agains their hated rivals, coming away with a 67-41 victory. As a result of that win, a victory against Alabama just two days prior, and many other chips falling the Gators climbed a few more rungs and now sit as the No. 3 team in the country.
By the score, you could imagine that the Gators simply suffocated the Volunteers. By watching, and by the statistics, that proves to be true. Florida held Tennessee to the second lowest eFG% that the Gators have allowed all season, yielding a mere 27.7 eFG%. The total was also a season-low for the Volunteers, who could only muster 0.69 points per possession.
Suffice it to say, the Gators are playing superb basketball as the calendar nears the month of February. Just the same old, same old that we have come to expect from Billy Donovan's bunch in The Sunshine State.
Rebels Runnin' Through the SEC
Their voices may not be as boisterous as they were a year ago, but Ole Miss is going on a very nice run at the moment in the Southeastern Conference world of basketball.
Figured to be somewhat of an afterthought before the season began due to the questionable status of the polarizing Marshall Henderson, the Rebels have weathered through some early season struggles and have reversed course thus far this season. After a rough, four-point loss to in-state rival Mississippi St. two weeks ago, Andy Kennedy's club has responded in tremendous fashion.
The Ole Miss Rebels have won their last four games to improve to 5-1 in SEC play, tied with Kentucky for the second best mark in the standings at this point in the season. Although they may still project to finish 10-8 in league play by Ken Pomeroy, they still, at this point, may just be beginning to roll.
Henderson still might be an inefficient player from the field, but Ole Miss has been winning with sound defensive efforts. They are allowing just 98.3 points per 100 possessions, an eFG% of 46.1 percent, and a 2PT FG% of just 44.1 percent, and all of those marks rank within the Top 100 in the nation.
Frazier and Randle Steal the Show
Each week, the Southeastern Conference recognizes players for their outstanding efforts in the regular season. Today, the SEC announced that both Michael Frazier II of Florida and Julius Randle of Kentucky would be honored as SEC Players of the Week.
Looking at how each played this past week, it is hard to argue against it. Frazier II, a sophomore guard averaging 12.3 points per game in the 2013-14 season, went above and beyond that average this past week with an 18-point performance against Alabama, and a follow up 17-point performance against Tennessee. The Tampa native added five and six rebounds to those respective performances, providing strong contributions to the Gators' efforts in those contests.
Meanwhile, Julius Randle continued his dominance and push for SEC Freshman and Player of the Year Awards with two keen performances against Texas A&M and Georgia. Against the Aggies, the freshman big man scored 13 and grabbed 11 rebounds, and swatted away two shots in his direction. Then, Randle picked up from where he left off against the Bulldogs, scoring 14, collecting nine rebounds, and coming away with another block.
The Week Ahead
Non-Ranked Team to Watch: Missouri Tigers
Here we are again, talking about those same Missouri Tigers that we discussed last week, and the week before. Things have not gotten any easier for old Mizzou, after suffering yet another road defeat at the hands of a conference opponent. Now, with their backs against the wall, the Tigers travel to Arkansas to take on old friend Mike Anderson's club, and then play host to Julius Randle and the Kentucky Wildcats this Saturday afternoon. Needless to say, it's gutcheck time in Columbia, Mo.
Game of the Week: No. 11 Kentucky vs. LSU
In a week featuring several quality matchups (Missouri-Arkansas, Tennessee-Ole Miss, Kentucky-Missouri) Kentucky-LSU gets the nod here. This is a matchup of two teams with very solid defenses, and with the game in Baton Rouge, it certainly will be an interesting test for the Wildcats, who of course suffered an unexpected defeat on the road just a few weeks ago. Both Julius Randle and Johnny O'Bryant will be ones to watch inside, as this matchup could get physical in a hurry.
Tuesday, January 28
7 p.m. ET - Missouri vs. Arkansas (ESPNU)
9 p.m. ET - No. 11 Kentucky vs. LSU (ESPN)
Wednesday, January 29
7 p.m. ET - Vanderbilt vs. Georgia (ESPN3)
7 p.m. ET - Texas A&M vs. South Carolina (ESPN3)
8 p.m. ET - Alabama vs. Auburn (ESPN3)
8 p.m. ET - Ole Miss vs. Tennessee (ESPN3)
Thursday, January 30
7 p.m. ET - No. 3 Florida vs. Mississippi St. (ESPN2)
Saturday, February 1
1 p.m. ET - No. 11 Kentucky vs. Missouri (CBS)
1:30 p.m. ET - Georgia vs. Auburn (ESPN3)
1:30 p.m. ET - Texas A&M vs. No. 3 Florida (ESPN3)
5 p.m. ET - Arkansas vs. LSU (ESPNU)
5 p.m. ET - Mississippi St. vs. Vanderbilt (ESPN3)
9 p.m. ET - Tennessee vs. Alabama (ESPN2)