The Daily Gamecock

SEC Men's Power Rankings: Week 4

Kentucky ascends to No. 1

Uk_logo1. Kentucky (Up 2)
After avenging last year’s loss to South Carolina and then claiming victory over a tough Georgia squad, Kentucky (16-4, 4-2) is starting to look like the team everyone anticipated it would be. Freshmen Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight continue to blossom, entering the week averaging 17.7 and 17.3 points per game, respectively. The Wildcats have Ole Miss, Florida, and Tennessee coming up, and should they go undefeated in that stretch, they’ll have once again reclaimed the national spotlight. — Isabelle Khurshudyan
BAMA_logo2. Alabama (Up 2)
Don’t look now, but the Crimson Tide is rising quickly in the SEC West, and unless one of its division foes acts quickly, the race for the title may soon be over. After a lackluster nonconference performance, Alabama (13-7, 5-1) has won five of its first six SEC games and enters the week as the winner of eight of its last nine. The next three games should show a lot about the Tide, however, with a Wednesday home match against streaking Mississippi State followed by back-to-back road trips with Tennessee and Vanderbilt. If Alabama is to maintain its spot at the top, more strong showings will be needed. — Ryan Velasquez
Florida-Logo3. Florida (Down 2)
The Gators stumbled last week with a narrow double-overtime win over Georgia and a tough loss at Mississippi State. This senior-led squad has a difficult stretch coming up as it prepares for Vanderbilt, Kentucky and South Carolina over an eight-day span. Florida (16-5, 5-2) will see both the Commodores and the Wildcats at home, but with four of its losses coming in Gainesville, playing host may not be as sweet as it sounds. The Gators need statement wins over both to remain dominant in the SEC. — IK
UT_logo4. Tennessee (Up 1)
The Volunteers are in the midst of a lull in their schedule, easily defeating lightweights LSU and Ole Miss last week. Senior Brian Williams and junior Scotty Hopson had 18 and 16 points, respectively, as Tennessee (14-7, 4-2) breezed past the Rebels, turning a tie game at halftime into a 17-point blowout. This week, the Vols travel to Auburn before returning home for a tough matchup against Alabama. If they keep up their momentum, the Volunteers may be able to move up in the SEC East standings. — Paulina Berkovich
ARK_logo5. Arkansas (Up 3)
The Razorbacks had an outstanding week, defeating Auburn on Tuesday before upsetting Vanderbilt on Saturday. Junior Rotnei Clarke scored a season-high 36 points as Arkansas handed the Commodores their first home loss of the year, but the real surprise was junior Michael Sanchez, who added 20 points off the bench. Arkansas (14-6, 4-3) will play its next two contests at home, hosting Georgia and Ole Miss. Given that they’ve won all three SEC contests in Fayetteville so far, the Razorbacks should have a good chance to keep their momentum going. — PB
UGA_logo6. Georgia (Down 4)
Two consecutive losses to ranked opponents have landed the Bulldogs in last place in the SEC East. On Tuesday, Georgia (14-6, 3-4) rallied from an eight-point deficit in the last three minutes of regulation against Florida only to fall 104-91 in double overtime. The Bulldogs followed up that loss with a 66-60 defeat at the hands of Kentucky, shooting just 37 percent on the night. Georgia’s schedule lightens up this week as it travels to Arkansas and then returns home for matchups with Auburn and Xavier. — PB
VU_logo7. Vanderbilt (No Change)
Riding a three-game winning streak into Saturday’s home meeting with Arkansas, many expected the Commodores to run it to four. Rotnei Clarke and his 36 points had other ideas. Vandy has little time to mourn its first home loss of the season, though. The No. 23 ’Dores (15-5, 3-3) have a huge meeting with Florida in Gainesville tonight and get the Gamecocks in Nashville on Saturday. Next week will be difficult as well, with home games against Alabama and Kentucky. — James Kratch
MSU_logo8. Mississippi State (Up 1)
The Bulldogs are officially lurking. After a home upset of Florida, Mississippi State is suddenly back at .500 in SEC play and within two games of first place in the Western Division. MSU (11-9, 3-3) will have a chance to make its move with four straight games against division foes next on the schedule. The biggest one of that group will be tomorrow night at conference-leading Alabama. Knock off the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa and Rick Stansbury’s squad might be ready to live up to its preseason hype. — JK
USC_logo9. South Carolina (Down 3)
Things couldn’t have changed more quickly for the Gamecocks. Just two weeks ago, South Carolina (12-7, 3-3) was in the thick of the SEC East race and appeared ready to prove critics wrong for writing off its young roster in the preseason predictions. Today, it’s recovering from a double-digit home loss to lowly Auburn, a program USC fans are continuing to associate with bad memories. The schedule isn’t getting any friendlier either. After a trip to LSU, the Gamecocks hit the road for Vanderbilt then return to Columbia for a rematch with Florida. If Carolina wants to stay afloat, rejuvenated performances will certainly be important. — RV
MISS_logo10. Ole Miss (No Change)
The Rebels are thanking their lucky stars for two groups of Tigers right about now. Without them, Ole Miss (13-8, 1-5) would be hard-pressed to stay out of the SEC cellar this season. A week after topping LSU by nearly 30 points, the Rebels fell to the other end of the spectrum with a 74-57 defeat at home against Tennessee. The coming days don’t look to be any easier either. After playing host to resurgent Kentucky tonight, Ole Miss heads to Arkansas to attempt an upset over the streaking Razorbacks. — RV
LSU_logo11. LSU (No Change)
One of two teams in the conference with a record below .500, LSU has all the momentum going the opposite direction. The Tigers suffered their fourth straight loss Sunday in a road trip to Alabama and managed to score just 46 points. If there was ever a time to turn it around and hope for good seeding in the conference tournament, it’s now, especially with South Carolina and Mississippi State coming to town. The scoring woes could continue to hinder the Tigers, however, who haven’t passed 70 points since a December victory over McNeese State. — IK
AU_logo12. Auburn (No Change)
The Tigers are off the schnide. After an upset win over USC in Columbia, Auburn (8-13, 1-6) broke its six-game losing streak with its first SEC victory of the season. The win catapulted Auburn from No. 307 to its current No. 285 in the RPI. AU is still below such luminaries as Florida Gulf Coast and UC Riverside, however. The Tigers better enjoy this win, because another one may not be in the cards for a while. Tennessee and Georgia lie ahead this Thursday and Saturday. — JK