SEC Power Rankings, chapter five: The league stepped out for 5-5 draw against the Big 12 in the Challenge

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My SEC Power Rankings (1/26/20): League teams earned a split in the 10-game Big 12 / SEC Challenge on Saturday as both Kentucky and LSU grabbed wins in the state of Texas while Auburn, Alabama, and Arkansas each won as well. 

tie 1. Kentucky (15-4, 5-1 SEC) … No. 22 NCAA NET … the ‘Cats took down Georgia, 89-79 on Tuesday, before slugging it out against No. 18 Texas Tech in Lubbock on Saturday as big man Nick Richards scored the game-winning bucket with 10 seconds remaining in overtime for a 76-74 win … including a 73-66 win over Arkansas eight days ago, Kentucky has strung together a 3-game winning streak after an upset loss at South Carolina on Jan. 15 … the Wildcats host Vanderbilt on Wednesday before another titanic road game against No. 16 Auburn on Saturday … previous ranking: tie No. 1.

tie 1. LSU (15-4, 6-0 SEC) … No. 24 NCAA NET … the Tigers continue to live on the edge, beating Florida and Texas each by 2 points last week … aside from a 14-point win at Tennessee in their league opener, the Tigers have won their last 6 games by an average margin of 2.5 points … counting all 18 SEC regular-season games from a season ago, the defending league champs have won 22 of their last 24 regular-season SEC games … LSU hosts upstart Alabama on Wednesday before hosting Ole Miss on Saturday …previous ranking: tie No. 1.

3. Auburn (17-2, 4-2 SEC) … No. 19 NCAA NET … the Tigers bounced back from consecutive blowout losses with wins over South Carolina (80-67) and Iowa State (80-76) … 6-6 freshman Devan Cambridge averages 4.1 points per game, but he went off for 26 points (including 6-of-9 from 3) in Auburn’s win over the Gamecocks … the Tigers appear vulnerable after starting the season 15-0 … Auburn goes on the road to play Ole Miss on Tuesday before coming home to host Kentucky on Saturday … previous ranking:No. 4.

tie 4. Florida (12-7, 4-2 SEC) … No. 35 NCAA NET … the Gators dropped both games last week, but there is no shame in losing by two at LSU or at home against No. 1 Baylor  … sophomore guards Keyontae Johnson, Andrew Nembhard, and Noah Locke have been solid in support of senior grad-transfer and preseason SEC Player of the Year pick Kerry Blackshear, Jr. … league games this week are home against Mississippi State on Tuesday and at Vanderbilt on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 3.

tie 4. Arkansas (15-4, 3-3 SEC) … No. 28 NCAA NET … the Hogs split last week, losing 77-70 at Mississippi State before winning at home 78-67 against TCU on Saturday … the trio of Jimmy Whitt, Jr., Desi Sills, and Jalen Harris picked up the slack and then some with Isaiah Joe sitting out the TCU game due to a knee injury … Arkansas is off to its best start through 19 games since the 2014-15 Bobby Portis-led Hogs also started 15-4 en route to 27 wins and second place in the SEC … Arkansas hosts South Carolina on Wednesday before traveling to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to place Alabama on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 5.

tie 4. Alabama (12-7, 4-2 SEC) … No. 42 NCAA NET … the Tide started league play 1-2 but have won four straight games, including victories last week at Vandy (77-62) and home against Kansas State (77-74) … Kira Lewis and John Petty, Jr., combined for 76 points, 27 rebounds, and 11 assists in the two wins … league games this week are at LSU on Wednesday and home against Arkansas on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 6. 

7. Tennessee (12-7, 4-2 SEC) … No. 54 NCAA NET … the Vols split games last week, demolishing Ole Miss, 73-48, in a mid-week game before valiantly battling No. 3 Kansas on the road in a 74-68 loss on Saturday … senior guard Jordan Bowden averaged 15.0 points in the two contests … league games this week are home against Texas A&M on Tuesday and at Mississippi State on Saturday … previous ranking: tie No. 9.

8. Mississippi State (12-7, 3-3 SEC) … No. 48 NCAA NET … the Bulldogs split last week, beating Arkansas on Wednesday before having their 3-game winning streak snapped at Oklahoma, 63-62, on Saturday … sophomore forward Reggie Perry (6-10, 250) is the only SEC player averaging a double-double and had been on a tear in league play before registering a 7-point, 6-rebound foul-plagued effort in the loss against the Sooners … league games this week are at Florida on Tuesday and home against Tennessee on Saturday … previous ranking:No. 7.

9. South Carolina (11-8, 3-3 SEC) … No. 91 NCAA NET … the Gamecocks split week, losing at No. 16 Auburn, 80-67, before drilling hapless Vandy, 90-64, on Saturday … sophomore A.J. Lawson scored a combined 25 points in the two games for a USC-E team that has won 3 of its last 4 gams … league games this week are at Arkansas on Wednesday and home against Missouri on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 8.

10. Texas A&M (9-9, 3-3 SEC) … No. 151 NCAA NET … the Aggies split games last week, winning 66-64 at Missouri in a mid-week game before losing at home against Oklahoma State, 73-62, on Saturday … senior big man Josh Nebo has been a consistent interior presence for first-year head coach Buzz Williams … league games this week are Tennessee on Tuesday and at Georgia on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 12.

tie 11. Georgia (11-8, 1-5 SEC) … No. 87 NCAA NET … an upset win over then-No. 9 Memphis on Jan. 4 seems like eons ago as the Bulldogs have managed just one win in league play, although that win was an impressive 80-63 triumph over Tennessee on Jan. 15 … the ‘Dogs lost both games last week, though, at Kentucky (89-79) and home against previous league-winless Ole Miss (70-60) on Saturday … freshman sensation Anthony Edwards scored a combined 29 points in the two contests … league games this week are at Missouri on Tuesday and home against Texas A&M on Saturday … previous ranking: tie No. 9.

tie 11. Missouri (9-10, 1-5 SEC) … No. 88 NCAA NET … the Tigers have lost four games in a row after drumming Florida, 91-75, on Jan. 11 … last week, Mizzou lost 66-64 at home against Texas A&M before getting blasted 74-51 at No. 14 West Virginia on Saturday … in the loss against the Mountaineers, the Tigers’ starting five combined for just 14 points … league games this week are home against Georgia on Tuesday before playing at South Carolina on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 11.

tie 11. Ole Miss (10-9, 1-5 SEC) … No. 107 NCAA NET … the Rebels went on the road for a 70-60 win over Georgia on Saturday to finally get on the board with a league victory after six games … prior to that, Ole Miss had lost 6 in a row capped by a mid-week loss at Tennessee, 73-48 … senior guard Breein Tyree has been outstanding, and he led the Rebels with 20-4-4 in the win over Georgia … league games this week are at home against No. 16 Auburn on Tuesday and at LSU on Saturday … previous ranking:No. 13.

14. Vanderbilt (8-11, 0-6 SEC) … No. 163 NCAA NET … Vandy lost twice last week, 77-62 at home against Alabama and 90-64 at South Carolina … the Commodores are on a fast-track to a second-consecutive season of going 0-18 in league play … counting the last two SEC tournaments, Vandy has lost 26 consecutive games against league opponents dating back to the 2017-18 season … league games this week are at No. 15 Kentucky on Wednesday and home against Florida on Saturday … previous ranking: No. 14.

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