Four on the Floor
1. Florida Gators - With every passing game, muscles continue to be flexed. The Florida Gators are the class of the Southeastern Conference, and will only be getting better momentarily. Freshman Chris Walker will be joining the team on Tuesday for the No. 3 team in America's matchup against the Missouri Tigers, and all of the anticipation surrounding his debut will finally come to pass in Gainesville on Tuesday night. The forward Walker was forced to sit out due to NCAA restrictions, but he will at long last take the floor against Mizzou, and the McDonald's All American should no doubt give the Gators a boost.
2. Kentucky Wildcats - The Wildcats continue to be rich with talent, but still are finding some inconsistencies along the way. The Cats were bullied last Tuesday night in Baton Rouge by the LSU Tigers, falling to the tune of 87-82 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. But, John Calipari's club turned around and brought the bullying with them on a road trip along Interstate 70. Kentucky brought Missouri down by the score of 84-79, with Julius Randle looking outstanding against a Tigers club with zero presence inside.
3. LSU Tigers - The Tigers prop themselves into this portion of the Rundown after two impressive performances in the last week. Not only did Johnny O'Bryant III & Co. come away with a huge home victory against the Kentucky Wildcats, they also followed that performance up by shredding any possibility of NCAA Tournament dreams for the Arkansas Razorbacks. At 14-6, the LSU still needs to collect a couple more impressive performances before the end of the season, but recognition for those performances last week was necessary. Credit is given when credit is due.
4. Tennessee Volunteers - Much like LSU, Tennessee is rolling off the heels of a 2-0 week in league play. The Volunteers bested the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, and took care of business at home against the then-surging Ole MIss Rebels. The Rebels were winners of their last four games before falling in Knoxville, but the Vols put out the fire at home on the back of Jordan McRae. The senior guard scored 26 points against the Rebels, and followed that up with a 26 point performance against the Crimson Tide as well.
Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
The Missouri Tigers needed a win in the worst way on Saturday against the Kentucky Wildcats. Instead, what followed was a pummeling inside by the Kentucky big men, and a tough defeat inside Mizzou Arena has sent Mizzou further down the hole that they have dug themselves.
Unfortunately for Mizzou, the light at the end of the tunnel is not appearing soon. Although Jabari Brown has been playing his tail off as of late, a trip to Gainesville is in their near future. On Tuesday, the up-and-down Tigers travel to The Sunshine State, and the No. 3 Florida Gators await their arrival.
Last season, Florida welcomed Missouri to the Southeastern Conference with a thumping to the tune of 83-52. This season? I would not be so sure that's what's going to happen. Sure. Lately, Florida has been physically dissecting opponents inside the O'Connell Center. But, the Tigers bring an offensive skill set that could present some problems for Florida.
Jabari Brown has been playing lights out as of late for Missouri and the former McDonald's All American is a very good perimeter shooter. Brown, a transfer from Oregon, is shooting 47.7 percent on three-point attempts this season, having converted 62 of his 130 attempts from deep.
If Brown can get it going tomorrow night, and if he gets some more contributions from the likes of Jordan Clarkson and Earnest Ross, then the Tigers could put in a scare into the Gators. They will need to at this point because as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures.
LSU Roars Their Way to Victories
Florida continues to be above all else in the SEC this season, but the LSU Tigers grabbed the attention of many after their impressive showings in the last seven days. It started with a thumping of the Kentucky Wildcats last Tuesday night and ended with an emphatic victory against the Arkansas Razorbacks at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday.
Both performances showed stellar play from the Tigers, but they were certainly far from perfect. In the second half of the game against the Razorbacks, LSU gave up 49 points compared to just 25 in the 1st Half. Against Kentucky, the first 10 minutes was as good of a performance that LSU could have asked for, yielding just 15 points from the Wildcats. They also started off strong in the opening 10 minutes of the 2nd Half, allowing only 17 points.
But, the Tigers allowed for Kentucky to crawl back into the mix, giving up 29 points in the final 10 minutes of the game. It was too much for the Wildcats to muster though, as an off-shooting night from inside the perimeter was their undoing. LSU only allowed for Kentucky to convert 43.4 percent of 2PT attempts, with the usually efficient Julius Randle shooting just 27.2 percent on 11 attempts.
It might take a strong, strong push for the Tigers to be dancing this March, but if they continue this type of success up, it might be a much easier road for them.
Tiger Frontcourt Sweeps Player of the Week Honors
The banner week for the Tigers of Louisiana St. did not just start and end with their unbeaten slate. No, LSU followed up their triumphant performances of a week ago by having two of their top cats taking home Player of the Week honors. Freshman center Jordan Mickey and junior power forward Johnny O'Bryant III were both recognized by the Southeastern Conference for their efforts in LSU's victories over Kentucky and Arkansas. O'Bryant III came away with 29 points and nine rebounds against the Wildcats, and 23 points and nine rebounds against the Razorbacks. Meanwhile, Mickey had 22 points and 11 rebounds against Arkansas, and the freshman feasted for 14 points against Kentucky.
The Week Ahead
Non-Ranked Team to Watch: Mississippi Rebels
We have already glossed over the Volunteers and the pair of Tigers, so it's time to focus on the Ole Miss Rebels this time around. Marshall Henderson & Co. were riding high on a four-game winning streak up until the Tennessee Volunteers derailed their string of victories last week in Knoxville. The Rebels nearly flopped to the South Carolina Gamecocks, but survived the scare on Saturday. They will certainly have a chance to prove themselves worthy this week, playing both Kentucky and Missouri this coming week.
Game of the Week: Missouri vs. No. 3 Florida
While the clash of titans is eleven days away, Missouri-Florida will suffice for this week. Mizzou is on the ropes and needs to dig deep if they want a breath of seeing the NCAA Tournament this coming March, and Florida is looking to defend their home court. This match truthfully will be won on the perimeter, with the Tigers having a dossier of deft shooters that can fearlessly pull up from deep. Keep your eye on Florida's 3PT defenders, as they rank 90th in 3PT defense amongst their peers. How Florida combats Missouri's shooters will provide the difference in this game.
Tuesday, February 4
7 p.m. ET - Ole Miss vs. No. 18 Kentucky (ESPNU)
9 p.m. ET - Missouri vs. No. 3 Florida (ESPN)
Wednesday, February 5
7 p.m. ET - Auburn vs. South Carolina (ESPN3)
8 p.m. ET - Alabama vs. Arkansas (SEC TV)
8 p.m. ET - Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt (ESPN3)
9 p.m. ET - Mississippi St. vs. Texas A&M (CSS)
Thursday, February 6
7 p.m. ET - LSU vs. Georgia (ESPN2)
Saturday, February 8
12 p.m. ET - Alabama vs. Florida (ESPN)
1:30 p.m. ET - Kentucky vs. Mississippi St. (SEC TV)
3 p.m. ET - South Carolina vs. Tennessee (ESPNU)
4 p.m. ET - Arkansas vs. Vanderbilt (SEC TV)
4 p.m. ET - Auburn vs. LSU (SEC TV)
5 p.m. ET - Missouri vs. Ole Miss (FSN)
8 p.m. ET - Texas A&M vs. Georgia (CSS)