Upward Dog

5-28. That is what the SEC’s record is against opponents in the current AP top 25 so far this year with all 5 wins coming from a combination of Kentucky and South Carolina who happen to play this Saturday. Anyway, there are three good teams in the SEC and they all happen to be ranked. And depending on the day, Arkansas may show up and look impressive, but the rest of the league is pretty putrid outside of those four teams. Auburn has flashed potential, but they still seem to be a year away. Vanderbilt on paper coming into the year looked talented, but I guess with a new coach comes growing pains. Mississippi State’s play has been promising, but they are the youngest team in the SEC (yes, even younger than Kentucky). The SEC has potential due to their surprisingly successful recruiting and quality coaches, but most teams are still in rebuild mode or cannot get up over the edge of mediocrity. It is a three-team race for first in the SEC, and the leader is going to remain in Lexington until proven otherwise. South Carolina has the mix of athleticism and veteran leadership of star Sindarious Thornwell to knock off the Cats. Florida also has an advantage in veteran leadership, but they have a balanced scoring offense, to knock off Kentucky it will take an effort like TJ Leaf of UCLA or Quentin Snider of Louisville. Florida has not shown that they have a player who can take over games, yet have they notched a win against the AP top 25. This conference holds three to four teams who deserve a shot at the dance, and right now, beyond that, it is a disgrace.

Player of the Week

JJ Frazier (Georgia)

JJ FrazierJJ FrazierI know, I just bad mouthed the rest of the SEC but still managed to place a player that is featured on one of the outlier teams as player of the week. But, there is no I in team therefore Frazier gets the nod. Considering, the only players on the team who consistently contribute on the team are Frazier and Yante Maten, I wouldn’t say that qualifies as a good team when talking in terms of the tournament. When playing well enough, they might be able to knock off someone, but even then, it is typically not enough. J.J. Frazier went into the swamp and faced the rowdy reptiles and has 25 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals and still managed to leave with an L. Following that performance, he took on Vandy and managed 15 points, 5 assists, and 6 rebounds. He isn’t just chucking up shots due to the lack of help he receives from his teammates, he is affecting the game in every which way, but the duo of him and Maten just does not seem to be enough. Defenses know who is going to be shooting the ball and they still can’t stop him, it’s just that he virtually receives no help on either side of the court and it leads to him and Maten taking the reins. Frazier is doing his job, and even though Georgia slipped up once this week, forcing OT in a hostile environment against a ranked team like Florida is impressive. The next couple games for Georgia are very winnable, maybe they can fight their way back into the thick of things.

Who’s Hot

Daryl Macon (Arkansas)

These might not be the best performances, especially when referring to the strength of opponent, but Daryl Macon’s leadership is what the Razorbacks needed to get back on track. After getting blown out by Kentucky in Rupp and losing to Mississippi State in Bud Walton Arena, Arkansas needed a few pick me up games after slipping up despite coming into conference play on a roll. Well, the basketball gods answered Mike Anderson’s call and they gave him the two easiest opponents in the SEC. Missouri is beyond awful, and Billy Kennedy’s Aggies are extremely underwhelming this season. The veteran Macon could tell that if he didn’t turn this around quick, their chances of March Madness kept diminishing. Macon consistently kept getting buckets whenever his team needed it most because that’s what teams who are on the fringe of making the tournament do, they find a way to win. Macon finished the week averaging 16.5 points a game, 3.5 assists per game, and 4 rebounds per game. He knocked Dusty Hannahs back a spot and now is the leading scorer for Mike Anderson’s squad.

Who’s Not

Florida 3-Point Shooting

Florida’s attempts from beyond the arc looked about as accurate as Brock Osweiler’s performance against the Patriots. No, the interceptions do not count. Granted points were very limited in this matchup considering the score was 4-0 with a Florida advantage with 14 minutes and 12 seconds left on the clock. But, Florida shot 0-17 from three. 17 attempts without a single make, that is just embarrassing. Of course, most of it was shot selection, but at that point you give up on the three ball and drive to the hole especially with the number of fouls that the refs were calling. The Gators only have two reliable 3-point threats and that is KeVaughn Allen and Justin Leon but they were clamped up all day. The perimeter defense of PJ Dozier and Sindarious Thornwell gave the Florida offense fits and forced them into shots that they weren’t comfortable taking. Neither offense could get within a rhythm during the game, but the perimeter defense of Dozier and Thornwell outshined any offensive scheme that Mike White threw at them. Clearly, Mike White still continued to give his players the green light to keep chucking up bricks.

Top 5: Power Rankings

Thankfully this section is just for top five lists only because the rest of the SEC does not deserve to be mentioned unless put in a negative platform. Of course, there is going to be upsets throughout the season, but the top 5 teams seem to significantly outmatch the rest of the SEC, the only thing that will possibly change is the order.

1. Kentucky Wildcats

When you have two players within the Top-10 in contention for the Wooden Award it’s a safe bet that team is leading it’s conference, along with contending for a national title. They are so much talented from the rest of the conference, it would take a miraculous season out of South Carolina or Florida or a catastrophic drop off between DeAaron Fox or Malik Monk.

2. South Carolina Gamecocks

South Carolina is undefeated when their senior leader Sindarious Thornwell is on the court. He was suspended, but he is back on the court now and all three games they lost they were possible victories. Thornwell is the engine that runs this team and they just knocked off a ranked Florida team. Let’s see if Thornwell can lead his Gamecocks into Lexington this Saturday to knock off a Top-5 Kentucky team.

3. Florida Gators

Despite a performance they would rather forget, due to lack of talent and quality amongst the rest of the conference, Florida still remains a Top-3 team in the conference to potentially bring home the crown. They distribute their scoring so well, and even though Kasey Hill does not put up the numbers, he runs Mike White’s offense efficiently.

4. Arkansas Razorbacks

Arkansas has talented, experienced players who can be a threat to the rest of the conference. They’ve been inconsistent through conference play, but have won their last two so hopefully that will get them back on track. The trio of Moses Kingsley, Dusty Hannahs, and Daryl Macon is something that most teams in the SEC cannot boast.

5. Georgia Bulldogs

J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten’s performance this season justifies them being in the top five. Outside of that, there is very little to work with as I mentioned before. But, when you have Maten being a 30 and 10 threat every night and J.J. Frazier getting hot at any time, that alone gives Georgia a spot in the Top-5. Their record is mediocre and they have lost to some questionable teams. But, that’s for you to judge. Is the rest of the SEC that bad? Or does Georgia flash potential to be a team that no one wants to face come March?

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