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Sea of Blue's SEC Power Rankings: Week 5

Think I'm being too hard on the LSU Tigers? I don't. Blessed with talent, athleticism and defensive prowess that Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy would pay for, all they've done is "Brady" themselves out of the NCAA picture.

This week will say a lot about the top of the division, as Kentucky gets to stake a claim at the SEC lead and Vanderbilt gets a road test in a rivalry game.

We're getting to crunch time in the conference, and that is reflected in this week's SEC Power Rankings for Week 5 (Ending Sunday, Feb. 4).

February 6 SEC Power Rankings
(1) #1 (AP/ESPN), 21-2 (8-0 SEC): It's good to be the Florida Gators. They rallied out of a hole vs. Vanderbilt, then buried Tennessee. The ankle injury to Corey Brewer could be trouble, but after overcoming mono, flu and injuries, nothing suggests UF is going to be beaten off the court. No gimme at Georgia, but all eyes will be on Rupp on Saturday, as the only team within striking distance gets the champs at home. Will it matter?
Up Next: Georgia (Road, Wed.), Kentucky (R, Sat.)
(2) #18 (ESPN)/#20 (AP), 17-5, (6-2): What did Saturday's comeback win at Arkansas show about the Kentucky Wildcats? Plenty. Resilience, finishing speed and a clutch third scorer in freshman Jodie Meeks. Nothing in the SEC is a given, and February is the cruelest month for UK. But the Cats finally get a shot at #1 Florida this week, and a return to both polls has the fans feeling it again. Can't look past USC as ESPN Gameday date looms.
Up Next: South Carolina (Home, Wed.), Florida (H, Sat.)
(3) #23 (AP), 16-7 (6-3): Up on No. 1 Florida in Gainsville, scoreboard watchers had to be thinking that the Vanderbilt Commodores were about to outdo even themselves. The Gators rallied, but that doesn't diminish the job Kevin Stallings has done. The 'Dores get their bye week before a rivalry game this weekend at Tennessee. There are a lot of games left to play, and while Vandy has exceeded expectations, nothing is assured yet.
Up Next: Tennessee(R, Sat.)
(4) #19 (ESPN)/18 (AP), 17-5 (4-4): You had to think things would improve for the West preseason favorite Alabama Crimson Tide. Backs to the wall at 2-4 in the SEC, Bama rallied for a pair of wins, including a big one at LSU. They aren't out of the woods yet, but getting back to even is key. A gimpy Ronald Steele has not helped, and to meet early hype, they'll need better leadership and more scoring from Jermareo Davidson.
Up Next: Miss. St. (H, Wed.), Ole Miss (R, Sat.)
(5) NR, 13-8 (5-4): Not a good week for the Georgia Bulldogs, who couldn't take care of a Lofton-less Tennessee, then dropped another squeaker, this time at Vandy. Georgia is looking like a classic bubble team, heading towards a .500-ish league record and double-digit losses. Florida arrives midweek, and a big win could be the difference in a good NCAA year and a huge step forward for Dennis Felton's Dawgs.
Up Next: Florida (H, Wed.), South Carolina (R, Sat.)
(6) NR, 14-8 (3-5): The Arkansas Razorbacks missed a golden opportunity at home, letting Kentucky out of the bag. Losses are starting to pile up for the Hogs, who have some nice wins, but not enough of them. Time to show the NCAA committee if you're worthy with a slew of West division games on the docket. Getting back to even in the SEC is a first step, and one a pair of wins this week would accomplish.
Up Next: Auburn (H, Wed.), LSU (R, Sat.)
(7) NR, 15-8 (4-5): Don't look now, but those overlooked Ole Miss Rebels are a half-game off the pace in the SEC West. Andy Kennedy's bunch of scrappers held off Miss. St., then wiped the floor with Auburn to make it three of four in the SEC. Things get tougher this week, with a wounded Alabama on tap, but kudos to the Rebs for turning their season around. Bam Doyne and Dwayne Curtis have risen to the occasion.
Up Next: Alabama (H, Sat.)
(8) NR, 14-10 (4-5): Figuring out the Auburn Tigers is no easier than the rest of the SEC West. Win a game on the road at South Carolina, then get crushed by Ole Miss at home. Protecting their turf will have to become a priority if the Tigers have any postseason aspirations. Still, coach Jeff Lebo has made big strides in his rebuilding job.
Up Next: Arkansas (R, Wed.), Miss. St. (H, Sat.)
(9) NR, 15-8 (3-5): Things can get right again in a hurry Tuesday for the ailing Tennessee Volunteers. A home date with struggling, but recognizable LSU also marks the probable return of Chris Lofton. The Vols' Mr. Everything has been missed, as a promising start was replaced with six losses in eight games. There is still time, however, and early wins should stand up if the Vols can get to 8-8 in the conference.
Up Next: LSU (H, Tue.), Vanderbilt (H, Sat.)
(10) NR, 12-9 (3-5): It's been a trying season for Rick Stansbury and the Mississippi St. Bulldogs. Positive momentum has been too often wasted with negative follow-ups. But that's the mark of a young team, even one as talented as the Bulldogs. Picking up a win over a free-falling LSU Tigers was helpful, for sure, but a pair or road games this week will again test the mettle of this flaky bunch. There is a lot to like about the Delk twins.
Up Next: Alabama (R, Wed.), Auburn (R, Sat.)
(11) NR, 12-9 (2-6): All those good vibes from a brief uptick were short-lived, it seemed. Despite only losing by a total of 8 points, a pair of losses put the South Carolina Gamecocks back in the East cellar, and longing for some breaks again. Tre' Kelley's one-man show hit a rough patch, as his 16 assists were overshadowed by 30% shooting in the two losses. Brandon Wallace has been a bright spot for the struggling 'Cocks.
Up Next: Kentucky (R, Wed.), Georgia (H, Sat.)
(12) #NR, 13-7 (2-4): What can you say? A combination of John Brady and a lack of offense has left the LSU Tigers on the outside looking in. Instead of a Final Four return, the Bayou Bengals are praying for the NIT. Glen Davis' best (27 & 10) wasn't enough -- again -- to prevent a fifth straight conference loss. And now, not much is left for LSU except to play out the string and hope that a few bounces turn into a win streak.
Up Next: Tennessee (R, Tue.), Arkansas. (H, Sat.)