Florida moved to third in the AP poll this week, and stays atop my Southeastern Conference power rankings for this week, too.
1. Florida (17-2, 6-0 SEC): The Gators may have more quality parts than any other SEC team — and yes, that includes Kentucky. The latest to emerge is reigning SEC Player of the Week Michael Frazier, who led UF to a road win at Alabama followed by a home demolition of Tennessee.
2. Kentucky (15-4, 5-1): Meanwhile, the Wildcats have the league’s best group of freshman, including Julius Randle (16.6 ppg, 10.5 rpg), who’s the league’s only player to average a double-double.
3. Tennessee (12-7, 3-3): I know, I know… the Vols lost by 26 on Saturday and people are going to have misgivings about putting them here. But: a) It’s a marathon and not a sprint, and b) nobody else is actually making a case for this spot, either.
4. Arkansas (13-6, 2-4): Outside of Florida, nobody has a list of impressive wins to match the Razorbacks’ triumphs over SMU, Minnesota, Clemson and Kentucky, but UA needs to prove it can beat somebody — anybody! — on the road.
5. Ole Miss (14-5, 5-1): Yes, the Rebels have a gaudy 5-1 league mark, but let’s not forget that LSU is the only team in the top-half of my rankings that Ole Miss has faced. On a more optimistic note, coach Andy Kennedy is getting some good minutes from emerging young players, and Marshall Henderson is due to shoot better.
6. LSU (12-6, 3-3): Earlier, I started to call Randle the league’s best freshman, but how about Jordan Mickey, who, though while he scores and rebounds less than Randle (about three per game on both counts), shoots about the same percentage as Randle, blocks about three more shots a game and turns it over less?
7. Missouri (15-4, 3-3): That Dec. 7 win over UCLA is starting to look more like an anomaly, which is too bad since that’s about all the Tigers have to really brag about right now.
8. Alabama (9-10, 3-3): Just as Alabama’s season started to unravel, the Crimson Tide, who’ve played the toughest overall schedule of any SEC team, got a much-needed home win over LSU.
9. Georgia (10-8, 4-2): Mark Fox’s roster, dominated by underclassmen, is starting to improve as the season goes on. Yes, the Bulldogs were obliterated by Kentucky on Saturday, but they also did it without a couple of key players in Kenny Gaines and Juwan Parker.
10. Vanderbilt (10-8, 2-4): Commodores keep hanging tough — first, it was giving Ole Miss a game before succumbing in the final five minutes, and then, it was undersized 4-man James Siakam giving VU 22 and 10 in an 11-point win at Texas A&M.
11. Texas A&M (12-7, 3-3): It’s starting to go south quickly on the Aggies, who after starting the SEC 3-0 have now lost their last three conference games by 47 points.
12. Mississippi State (13-6, 3-3): Coach Rick Ray had his work cut out for him this year, so he scheduled easy — outside of a win over Ole Miss (No. 66 in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings), wins over Texas A&M (136) and Auburn (164) are the next-closest thing the Bulldogs have to quality wins.
13. South Carolina (7-12, 0-6): This is when you know things aren’t going your way: Brenton Williams had 32 points and Michael Carrera had a double-double at Missouri, and the Gamecocks still lost, 82-74.
14. Auburn (8-9, 0-6): For what it’s worth (evidently, not much), Tigers have the No. 2 and 3 scorers in the league in K.T. Harrell (18.7 ppg) and Chris Denson (18.5).