SEC basketball power rankings: Time to respect Mississippi State and sink Mizzou

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It’s Thanksgiving season in the SEC basketball world, and the table has been set with all the fixings.

Florida and Mississippi State brought the big wins. Tennessee and Alabama had their stars provide the sauce. And Missouri came through with the ugly loss that the whole table will whisper about when the Tigers have their backs turned.

1. Tennessee 

Dalton Knecht looks like the piece Rick Barnes needed to evolve this Tennessee defensive juggernaut into a team that can score reliably enough to be a factor in March. Tom Izzo gave the Vols the kiss of death, calling them a Final Four team before the season began, but they might be good enough to sidestep that dark magic.

Last week: 1

2. Texas A&M 

The Aggies have something truly special with their core of Wade Taylor, Tyrece Radford and Henry Coleman. It’s not often in the modern college basketball landscape that a trio like that gets to grow with one another over multiple seasons.

Last week: 2

3. Alabama 

When Alabama pounded Mercer 98-67, the Crimson Tide’s official account on X, formerly Twitter, made sure to point out that was a season low in points for Nate Oats’ team. Alabama hasn’t played anybody yet, but the firepower is scary.

Last week: 4

4. Mississippi State 

The Bulldogs have three Power Six wins already and have not allowed more than 64 points in any of them despite upping their tempo considerably from last season. And they’ve got a freshman averaging 16.4 points per game in Josh Hubbard. Chris Jans’ team is more than just bubble fodder.

Last week: 6

5. Kentucky 

We were a regulation Saint Joe’s bucket away from slamming the big, red chaos button early in Lexington, but John Calipari’s Wildcats survived in overtime. They missed a big opportunity for a statement against No. 1 Kansas, though, blowing a 14-point lead in the second half.

Last week: 5

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6. Auburn 

After Bruce Pearl told the media he was concerned that his team was forcing him to “coach effort,” the Tigers responded by holding Notre Dame and St. Bonaventure to 59 and 60 points, respectively. The Tigers look complete, and Johni Broome looks like the conference’s best big man.

Last week: 7

7. Florida 

Here’s the ridiculous stat of the week: Florida has secured at least 20 offensive rebounds in each of its last three games. The Gators comfortably lead the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, and they look much improved in Todd Golden’s second season.

Last week: 8

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8. Arkansas 

The Muss Bus hit its first speed bump with a loss to UNC Greensboro. The Spartans are the kind of mid-major we could hear from again in March, but that’s a home loss that will sting the Razorbacks. Fortunately for them, the Battle4Atlantis in the Bahamas presents an opportunity to collect quality wins and shoot back up these rankings.

Last week: 3

9. South Carolina 

There haven’t been many more impactful transfers in the conference than BJ Mack, who is averaging 16 points per game for the Gamecocks and shooting over 50% from the field. Count Lamont Paris’ team among the SEC’s pleasant early surprises.

Last week: 10

10. Ole Miss 

The Rebels managed to sidestep a pair of disastrous losses to Detroit Mercy and Sam Houston State last week, but only just. This version of Ole Miss looks like it would do well to avoid the first day of the SEC Tournament, but it’s early and Chris Beard’s coaching chops are strong.

Last week: 11

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11. Mizzou

Some early season hiccups were to be expected with the talent the Tigers had to replace this offseason. But, whatever you’re working, you have to find a way to beat Jackson State at home. Mizzou has some opportunities remaining for quality nonconference wins, but that’s a resume-tanker.

Last week: 9

12. Georgia 

The Bulldogs are the only SEC team with a losing record, but they’ve played comfortably the most difficult starting schedule in the conference. Still, a neutral-court matchup with a rebuilding Providence program was winnable.

Last week: 12

13. LSU 

Losses don’t get much more brutal than the one the Tigers suffered against Dayton, leading by 15 midway through the second half. But LSU picked itself up and collected two decent wins over North Texas and Wake Forest thereafter.

Last week: 14

14. Vanderbilt 

The stink of Vandy’s loss to Presbyterian still lingers, and the Commodores haven’t done much to wash it out with three uninspiring victories against mid-majors.

Last week: 13

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