Conference play is just around the corner in this young season. The SEC never seems to get any love outside of the southeast from any media other than the top two or three teams. However, as Kentucky fans know there is a lot of talent in the SEC and they always seem to play to their potential when the blue and white is on the opposing bench. Here's a team by team breakdown of the SEC.
The Crimson Tide have been a bit of a surprise to this point of the season with a 6-2 record under first year coach Avery Johnson. The two losses for the Tide came at Dayton and against Xavier on a neutral floor at the Advocare Invitational in Kissimmee, Florida. This is where Alabama would also pick up their two best wins of the season, Notre Dame and Wichita State. The Tide are led by senior guard Retin Obasohan, who is averaging 14.1 points per game, and junior forward Shannon Hale who is averaging 12.9 points per game. The 'Cats have two meetings with the Tide this season, the first being at Tuscaloosa on January 9th and then at Rupp on February 23rd.
The Razorbacks look much different this season not having Michael Qualls or Bobby Portis back in Fayetteville. The absence of these two has really shown to this point in the season as they are 5-4. Their losses came against Akron, Georgia Tech and Stanford at the NIT Season Tip off in Brooklyn, and at Wake Forest. They have no big wins to speak of to this point in the season. The Razorbacks are a very high scoring team averaging 86 points per game which is 19th in the country, however, they allow 75.8 points per game which is 264th in the country.
They are led by three upperclassman guards: Dusty Hannahs is averaging 18.6 points per game including 50% from three point range and 92.9% at the free throw line which is 12th in the country. Anthion Bell is averaging 16.9 points per game including 45% from three point range. Bell and Hannahs have combined to make 55 of the 60 threes hit by the Razorbacks so far this season. Jabrill Durham is their other guard and is second in the country in assists averaging eight per game. The post is filled by sophomore forward Moses Kingsley who is averaging 15.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game. The 'Cats only play the Razorbacks once this season and it's in Fayetteville on January 21st.
The Tigers are 5-2 this season under second year head coach Bruce Pearl. Their two losses came to Colorado and at Middle Tennessee State in overtime, while their best win of the season came at Coastal Carolina. They are the highest scoring team in the SEC and 7th in the country averaging 88.7 points per game. The Tigers have four players that are averaging double figures led by junior guard Kareem Canty who averages 19 points and six assists per game. He is followed by senior Tyler Harris averaging 16.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, junior T.J. Dunans averaging 13.3 points per game, and senior Cinmeon Bowers averaging 13 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Last season Auburn played extremely well against the 'Cats both times, however, Kentucky played arguably two of their better games of the year against the Tigers. The 'Cats only play Auburn once this season and it's on the road January 16th.
The Gators are 6-3 in their first season with new head coach Michael White who replaced Billy Donovan after he went to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Their losses came to Purdue at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip Off in Uncasville, Connecticut, at Miami, and at Michigan State. Their best win was also in Connecticut over Saint Joseph's. The Gators are led by senior Dorian Finney-Smith averaging 13.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. The other two double figures scorers for the Gators are sophomore John Egbunu averaging 11.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game and sophomore Devin Robinson averaging 11 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. They also return junior guard Kasey Hill. The 'Cats host the Gators on February 6th and travel to Gainesville March 1st.
The Bulldogs are a disappointing 4-3 considering the talent that they returned this season. Their losses came to Chattanooga in overtime, at Seton Hall, and to Kansas State with their best win being Winthrop. They are led by sophomore Yante Maten who is averaging 16.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. Then come their three upperclassman guards Kenny Gaines averaging 14.1 points, J.J. Frazier averaging 13.3 points, and Charles Mann averaging 10.3 points. The 'Cats' lone meeting with the Bulldogs comes on February 9th in Rupp.
The Tigers lost Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin early to the NBA draft last season and their 4-4 record shows they're missing the experience. Their losses came to Marquette and NC State in the Legends Classic at Brooklyn, at Charleston, and at Houston in overtime with their best win being North Florida. They are led by freshman phenom Ben Simmons who is averaging 19 points, 14.8 rebounds (leads the country), 5.9 assists, 2.5 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game. His supporting cast to this point in the season has been junior Tim Quarterman averaging 15.4 points and freshman Antonio Blakeney averaging 11.5 points. They did get senior Keith Hornsby back for the Houston game who missed the first seven games due to injury. He scored 32 points including six threes in the road loss. The 'Cats travel to Baton Rouge on January 5th and host the Tigers on March 5th for Alex Poythress' senior night.
The Bulldogs are 4-4 this season under former UCLA coach Ben Howland in his first season in Starkville. Their losses have come to Southern, Miami and Texas Tech in the Puerto Rico Tip Off, and at UMKC with their best win being over Missouri State on a neutral floor. They are led by senior Gavin Ware who is averaging 19 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. He is followed by senior Craig Sword averaging 12.4 points, junior I.J. Ready averaging 12.4 points and 4.6 assists, and freshman Malik Newman averaging 12 points. The 'Cats' only meeting with the Bulldogs comes on January 12th in Rupp.
The Tigers are 5-4 in the young season with a young team. Their losses have come at Xavier, to Kansas State and Northwestern at the CBE Classic, and at Arizona with their best win being Northern Illinois. They are led by freshman Kevin Puryear averaging 13 points per game. He is followed by fellow freshman Terrance Phillips averaging 9.7 points and sophomore Naman Wright averaging 9.6 points and five rebounds. The 'Cats' only meeting with Mizzou is on January 27th in Rupp.
The Rebels are 8-2 to this point of the season. Their two losses came to George Mason in the Charleston Classic and to Seton Hall with their best win being at UMass. They are led by one of the best scorers in the country, senior Stefan Moody. Moody is averaging 23.6 points per game which is eighth in the country. He put on a great performance in Rupp Arena last season and if it hadn't been for cramps late in the game he may have helped Ole Miss pull that one out. Another familiar name that leads the Rebels is junior Sebastian Saiz. He's averaging 12.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. The 'Cats host the Rebels on January 2nd.
Frank Martin has led the Gamecocks to a 9-0 start this season which is the school's best start since 1970. Obviously they have no losses and their best win came against Tulsa in the championship of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. They are very balanced in their attack and have five upperclassmen that score in double figures. Mindaugas Kacinas leads the bunch averaging 14.4 points and 6.9 rebounds. He's followed by Laimonas Chatkevicius averaging 13.5 points, Michael Carrera averaging 12.5 points, Duane Notice averaging 12.4 points, and Sindarius Thornwell averaging 11.5 points and 5.3 rebounds. The 'Cats travel to Columbia on February 13th.
The Vols are 4-4 under new coach Rick Barnes, formerly Texas' coach. Their losses came at Georgia Tech, to George Washington and Nebraska in the Barclays Center Classic, and at Butler with their best win being over Marshall. They are led by seniors Kevin Punter and Armani Moore. Punter is the eleventh leading scorer in the country averaging 22.9 points per game. Moore is averaging 15.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2.4 blocks per game. Their other two double figures scorers are Robert Hubbs the third averaging 15.3 points and Devon Baulkman averaging 10.6 points. The 'Cats travel to Knoxville on February 2nd and host the Vols on February 18th.
The Aggies have looked like a real contender in the SEC this season with an 8-2 record. Their two losses came to Syracuse in the Battle 4 Atlantis and at Arizona State with their two best wins coming at the Battle 4 Atlantis over Texas and Gonzaga. They're led by Danuel House who is averaging 15.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He's followed by Jalen Jones also averaging 15.2 points and 6.5 rebounds and Tyler Davis averaging 11.4 points and 6.1 rebounds. The 'Cats are on the road to face Texas A&M on February 20th.
Vandy is another team that is looking like a legit contender in the SEC this season with a 6-3 record. Their losses came to Kansas in the championship game in Maui, at Baylor, and to Dayton with their best win being Wake Forest. They are led by sophomore Wade Baldwin the fourth averaging 15.3 points per game. He's followed by junior Damion Jones averaging 12.3 points and 6.9 rebounds. Junior Luke Kornet has been having a good season averaging 9.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game; however, he went down with a MCL tear and will be out several weeks. They also return sophomore Riley LaChance whose averaging 9.1 points. The 'Cats host Vandy on January 23rd and travel to Nashville on February 27th.