Depth of SEC Puts It Near Top of College Basketball

Ken Cross

January 16, 2023 at 12:28 pm.

According to, the SEC is now a solid third in conference ratings as it sits behind the Big 12 and Big 10. Diving into the deep level of teams, the SEC has more depth among its teams than the Big Ten. The analytics speak for themselves and are interesting in any sport when you dive in and study the various squads and their conferences.

Those analytics are a column for another day, though.

As wins and losses mounted on the basketball courts around the SEC this weekend, standings changed significantly with different winners and losers.

Alabama Claims Top Position with Impressive Win

Alabama stayed atop the league with its 106-66 home victory over LSU as the Crimson Tide are being led by potentially the top freshman in college basketball in Brandon Miller.

Miller scored 31 points as was 7-of-11 from three as the Crimson Tide took a 31-11 lead 12 minutes into the game in route to a 40-win over the Tigers.

The Crimson Tide ended this one early as Miller set the tone with 19 of those 31 points and Alabama made 21-of-42 shots in the first half with 14 of those makes were from three.

“When you have the character and attitude that he has, good things come to you,” coach Nate Oats said of Miller. “It was great to get him started with his first three on our first possession.”

Vols Saddled with First SEC Loss

Tennessee fell to Kentucky, 63-56, as the Vols lost for the first time inside the conference in one of the most physically aggressive battles of the season.

Tennessee’s defense is the top unit in the nation as the Vols hold their opponents to 33.6 percent from the floor and 21.3 percent from three. Opponents also score only 54 points per game which ranks second nationally.

Kentucky made a living at the free-throw line where the Wildcats made 22-of-25 free throws, while Tennessee went only 10 times, making seven.

Oscar Tshiebwe led Kentucky with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Tennessee missed layups off the dribble in the half-court and from their big men in the paint. Santiago Vescovi was the only Vol in double figures with 13 points.

Aggies Hand Gamecocks Another One-Sided Loss

Texas A&M is the only other undefeated team in the league with an perfect league start after taking a 94-53 win over South Carolina. It was the Gamecocks’ second 40-plus point loss at home in a week as Tennessee held them an 85-42 decision the previous Saturday. In between those two massive losses, the Gamecocks defeated Kentucky in Lexington.

The Aggies are a tough matchup with their guard play from Wade Taylor and Tyrece Radford and the defensive structure that allows them to give up only 21.4 made field goals per game.

Taylor led five Aggies in double figures with 20 points, while A&M held South Carolina to 28 percent from the field in the first half and built a 50-18 halftime advantage.

Defensively, South Carolina’s GG Jackson never was able to get his offensive flow going as he was only 2-of-13 from the floor and scored just five points.

“If I look at some of the teams that we have had lopsided losses to, there is a lot of physicality and aggression involved in what those teams do on the defensive end versus some other teams that have allowed us to move the ball a little more freely,” explained Gamecocks head coach Lamont Paris.

Tigers Roar Again With Win Over Improving Mississippi State

Auburn has only one loss in the league after Jaylin Williams scored 21 points in the Tigers’ 69-63 win over Mississippi State. Auburn’s defense was at a high level in holding the Bulldogs to 37.5 percent from the floor which included a 0-for-18 ledger from three-point range.

Williams made 5-of-7 three-point shots as the Tigers led the game for nearly 38 minutes. The senior from Nahunta, Ga., scored 13 of the Tigers’ first 15 points as he scored on a layup with 12:44 remaining in the first half to give Auburn a 15-8 advantage.

“I thought Jaylin Williams played one of the best games I have ever seen him play,” said Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl. “It was his heart and as physical as I have seen him play.”

Razorbacks’ Struggles Continue in Loss at Vanderbilt

Arkansas fell again, 97-84, at an improved Vanderbilt as the Commodores scored 63 points in the second half.

The Razorbacks have struggled since Trevon Brazile, a top transfer from Missouri, tore an ACL and Nick Smith, the No. 3 recruit in the nation from a year ago, has been sidelined as well with a knee injury.

In addition, Vanderbilt held Anthony Black to only three points in the second half as he scored 15 in the first stanza.

Vanderbilt hit a 20-3 run midway through the second half and turned a 56-53 deficit into a 73-59 lead. Jordan Wright scored 13 of his 17 points in that run. Arkansas cut the lead to six down the stretch, but fell to the Commodores in Saturday’s upset.

“A team scored 63 points in a half,” explained Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman. “As the game progressed, the competitive nature slipped and so you get the results of a team scoring 97 points on you.”

Florida Takes Down Missouri in Gainesville

Missouri jumped on Florida early, 11-0, as Kobe Brown led the early assault before Kyle Lofton hit a three-pointer late in the first half to give the Gators their first lead at 26-25 with 2:03 to play. The home team went on to win, 73-64.

Midway through the second half, Colin Castleton scored on a pair of layups which gave Florida the lead for good at 54-48 with 8:13 remaining.

Florida forward Will Richards led all scorers with 18 points while Castleton was 7-of-11 from the floor with 16 points and 13 boards. Brown led all scorers with 21 points for the Tigers.

“I think this team has definitely gotten more confident and part of that might be because we’ve become so solid defensively,” explained Floria head coach Todd Golden. “Early on in the year, we just weren’t good at playing through adverse situations. I feel like now we got to stop creating them for ourselves, but we’ve definitely done a good job playing through them.

Surprising Georgia Wins at Ole Miss, 62-58

Kario Oquendo scored Georgia’s last 12 points as the Bulldogs shaded Ole Miss, 62-58, in Oxford on Saturday afternoon.

Ole Miss led 54-50 on a jumper by Amare Abram with 5:21 remaining, but from that point Oquendo took over the game as he hit as he hit a pair of threes which gave the Bulldogs a 60-56 lead with 1:05 remaining.

Oqueno led Georgia with 15 points, while Terry Roberts added 14. Matthew Murrell was the leading scorer for the Rebels with 13.

“We hope to become an NCAA Tournament program soon, but right now we wanted to be competitive here in Oxford, a breakthrough on the road and we did that,” explained Georgia head coach Mike White.