SEC Basketball Depth Makes It a Tough Out All Season

Ken Cross

December 13, 2022 at 9:37 am.

With many coaching staffs changing in the SEC in the last 10 years, the entire conference has taken a giant step forward. The proof has shown that shown that SEC basketball has not been Kentucky as a Big One and Little 13 and may not be ever again!

Auburn has gotten to the Final Four and Arkansas in the Elite Eight in the last few seasons. We have also seen Tennessee as a Sweet Sixteen participant.  South Carolina and Florida met in the Elite Eight five seasons ago and the Gamecocks won and merged into the Final Four.

Alabama made it to the Sweet 16 in 2020-21, while LSU was 3-3 in the NCAA Tournament in each of the last five seasons as the Tigers found their Sweet 16 walk in 2018-19. That was the same year that Ole Miss saw the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014-15.

Mississippi State made it to the Final Four in the NIT in 2018 before making it back to the NCAA Tournament in 2019, the first time since 2009. Texas A&M hasn’t made it to the NCAA Tournament since 2017-18 when the Aggies were a Sweet 16 squad as they were in 2015-16.

Missouri has only had two NCAA appearances in the last nine seasons, but with their 9-0 start this year, the Tigers are a potential NCAA Tournament team. Vanderbilt made it to the NIT last season where the Commodores picked up wins against Belmont and Dayton before a 75-73 loss to Xavier in the Final 8.

It was important for the other 13 teams in the league to be able to stray away from Kentucky and win overall, as well as in matchups with the Wildcats. Kentucky has not won an NCAA Tournament since the 2011-12 season where seven future NBA players were poised in that lineup. The Wildcats have done a solid job in creating what is currently 27 players, who have stuck in the NBA or the G-League.

Let’s look at the league so far and the potential that can be is represented via the 14 SEC teams (records include games through December 11).

The SEC teams are presented in alphabetical order and don’t represent the picks of Lindy’s Sports or of Ken Cross on


Alabama (8-1) — The Crimson Tide look to roll into NCAA Tournament play after losing to Notre Dame in the first round a year ago.

The Tide solidified its hopes on Saturday as they took out No.1 Houston, 71-65, by handing the Cougars their first loss of the season.

Freshman forward Brandon Miller (17.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg) is a tough matchup as he has averaged 3.4 three-point field goals per game while making 46.6 percent of those threes.

Miller is almost a certainty to be a one-and-done and if he continues to play at this high level, he will be a Top 10 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Guard Mark Sears (14.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.3 apg) joins Miller as the only two Alabama players who average over 30 minutes per game and also double figures in points. Coach Nate Oats has also created a solid rotation where the next seven Alabama players average from 5.2 points per game to 9.6.

The depth on this team should make it a tough out as Sears joins Miller for a staunch three-point attack where the Ohio University transfer has made 44 percent of his three-balls.

Alabama is a rebounding fortress as the Tide average 49.6 per outing (1st/CBB) as they also lead in offensive rebounds (16.2) and defensive rebounds (33.3)


Arkansas (9-1) — Ricky Council, IV, scored 26 points as the Razorbacks took command in their 88-78 win over Oklahoma early in the second half. Arkansas shot 59.3 percent from the floor as Rick Smith, Jr., added 21.

Coach Eric Musselman has moved the Razorbacks forward with those aforementioned two Elite Eight appearances in the last two seasons.

His recruiting has been solid as he had was ranked by some with the second-best recruiting class in the nation, behind Duke. Musselman added four transfers including former Wichita State Shocker Ricky Council, IV, (19.2 ppg, 52.6% – FG), and twins from the Rhode Island Rams in Makhel and Makhei Mackey, who are solid role players in shooting high percentages and being key rebounders on both ends of the floor.

Missouri Tigers transfer Trevon Brazile had become a major contributor, but unfortunately tore an ACL and is out for the rest of the season.

Take this group and add freshman Anthony Black (12.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.7 apg) and Nick Smith, Jr. (14.8 ppg, 2.3 apg) with junior Devo Davis and the Razorbacks could be headed to the Final Four, and a potential national championship to end the 2022-23 season.

The biggest source of impact is how to restructure the rotation without Brazile (11.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg), who arguably could have been the team’s most versatile player. Kamani Johnson, Jalen Brown, and/or Makhel Mitchell could work well inside with the loss of Brazile.

The Hogs shoot 49.2 percent from the field and lots of their offensive approach is led by dribble penetration and finding shooters from the mid-range or layups and shots on the boxes.

Getting Smith back from a right knee injury is huge in how Arkansas may want to attack with Brazile sidelined.

Arkansas is a top defensive team as the Razorbacks hold opponents to 41.3 percent (115th/CBB) from the floor while giving up only 63.5 points (65th/CBB). In addition, they force 17.8 turnovers (340th/CBB) per game and they block 4.7 shots (45th/CBB) per night.


Auburn (8-1) – Auburn fell for the first time this season in Atlanta on Saturday as the Memphis Tigers stopped Auburn, 82-73. Memphis outrebounded Auburn, 43-32, as the Tigers were able to shoot only 38% from the field.

Coach Bruce Pearl has taken the Tigers to the highest points in program history as last season was the first time Auburn had posted two first-round NBA Draft picks. Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler were taken third and 22nd, respectively, by the Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves, who later traded as Kessler to Utah from Minnesota, where he is now a starter.

The Tigers now have potentially the deepest backcourt in the country in leading scorer Wendell Green, Jr., (13.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.9 apg), KD Johnson (10.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg) and Zep Jasper. Allen Flanagan (8.3 ppg, 37.9%-3), Chris Moore (6.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg) and Chance Westry (3.6 ppg, 52.4%-2) give the Tigers a charismatic rotation.

Auburn can potentially transition with anyone it plays or it can settle and have competitive challenges in the front court with Morehead State transfer Johni Broome (10.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg). Jaylin Williams, Dylan Cardwell and Yohan Traore join Broome to fashion solid post depth.

Auburn is one of the best defensive teams in the nation as it allows opponents to make only 38.4 percent (30th/CBB) of their shots per game while outscoring their opponents 73-61 (175th/21st/CBB). The Tigers are No. 1 nationally in blocked shots.


Florida (6-4) – The Gators made a solid hire when they brought in Todd Golden who had coached and improved San Francisco Dons basketball as USF had its first NCAA Tournament berth in 24 years in 2021-22.

Florida has tried to build around 7-1 center Colin Castleton (16.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg) in the middle with Will Richard (12.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg) as a power forward or fourth guard.

The backcourt could push Florida forward if the Gators maximize the guard spots. Inside, Castleton and Richard average double digits as Castleton’s overall game causes a matchup issue for opposing defenses.

Kowacie Reeves (9.3 ppg, 46%) is more of a 3-guard whose athleticism is prime on both ends of the floor. He is joined by VMI transfer Trey Bonham (9.6 ppg, 38.1%-3) on the point with Riley Kugel and Kyle Lofton (8.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg) working to solidify depth on the perimeter.

Richard, Bonham and Reeves lead a three-point game that averages 37.5 percent (52nd/CBB).


Georgia (7-3) – Mike White has gotten the Bulldogs to play quality basketball on a consistent basis. UGa had a tough loss on Tuesday night when Georgia Tech overcame a late four-point deficit to take a 79-77 win.

The Bulldogs will look to more consistent shooting as they average 70 ppg. (232nd/CBB) while shooting just 42.9 percent (255th/CBB).

Terry Roberts (14.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and Kario Oquendo (13.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg) are Georgia’s leading scorers as the Bulldogs seem to have more definition in their rotation.

Georgia’s defense will be impactful as opponents only have shot 41.6 percent (138th/CBB). White will move this team forward with a defensive presence that has allowed opponents to shoot only 25.9 percent (9th/CBB) from three, thus far.


Kentucky – (7-2) – Oscar Tshibwe had 28 points and 12 rebounds as Kentucky was able to get past Yale, 69-59, on Saturday.

Getting those 30 wins per year seems to still be easy for Kentucky, but the Final Fours and national championships have been a far climb once they have gotten a couple of wins in NCAA Tournaments.

Tshiebwe (16.1 ppg, 13.3 rpg) is still the No. 1 option on this team as he shoots 55.4 percent from the floor where he gets position to get the entry pass or scores off offensive rebounds (4.8/game).

Antonio Reeves (13.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg) is coach John Calipari’s leading scorer as he operates as a 3-guard and has made 26-of-53 three-point attempts. He and Cason Wallace carry the Wildcats’ three-point game as Wallace and Sahvir Wheeler also lead UK in assists with their playmaking.

Jacob Toppin (11.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg) is Kentucky’s third-leading scorer in getting the ball in the post or on the perimeter, where he takes 2.1 triples per game.

The Wildcats have absorbed a pair of losses to Michigan State, 86-77 in double overtime, and an 88-72 loss to Gonzaga. Kentucky had problems defending in those two games as the Spartans were 23-of-27 from the line while the Bulldogs shot 56.7 percent in Spokane.


LSU – (8-1) – The Tigers trailed Wake Forest by as many as 20 points in the first half, but KJ Williams scored 35 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as LSU rallied for a 72-70 win over the Demon Deacons on Saturday. Williams scored eight points in an 11-0 Tigers run that tied the game at 47-47 with 16:40 to play.

Tigers head coach Matt McMahon found Ja Morant and brought him to Murray State as the entire staff and team helped Ja proliferate his game to where it currently stands for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Now, McMahon has Illinois transfer Adam Miller (15.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg) and former Murray State Racer KJ Williams (18.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg) as a one-two scoring punch that is going to be a matchup problem for anyone that the Bayou Bengals face.

Justice Hill is also a former Murray State Racer who leads LSU from the point where he hands out 4.0 assists and gets 1.5 steals per night. Trae Hannibal (4.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.2 apg) helps Hill maintain the backcourt as he picks up 21.6 minutes per night.

The key for LSU is staying in transition where they come up as defensive stoppers as well as offensive scorers that shoot 46 percent from the field. In addition, LSU is allowing only 62.3 ppg (42nd/CBB) as Tigers’ opponents have shot only 40.3 percent (80th/CBB).


Mississippi State (9-0) – The Bulldogs held Minnesota to 29 percent from the floor on Sunday night and handled the Gophers, 24-11, off the bench in claiming their ninth win of the season under new head coach Chris Jans.

Big man Tolu Smith and guard Shakeel Moore posted a tough inside-outside combination with 20 and 17 points, respectively.

The Bulldogs picked Jans after his New Mexico State Aggies dominated the WAC for five seasons and made it to three NCAA Tournaments.

Mississippi State is allowing its opponents to shoot just 34.5 percent from the floor (5th/CBB) while giving up only 49.6 ppg (1st/CBB) and pulling down 43.4 boards per game (3rd/CBB).

Center Tolu Smith (16.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg) is the focal point of Jans’ team on both ends of the floor. He shoots 63.4 percent as his size at 6-10, 245, is a matchup problem on any given night.

Memphis transfer DJ Jeffries has been solid in complementing Smith’s work as Jeffries averages 1.6 three-point field goals per game which is second to Deshawn Davis, who picks up 2.4

Cameron Matthews (7.6 ppg, 4.9 rpg) is also a solid matchup in the post as he and Jeffries are the same size and their athleticism gives them lots of ways to score on various matchups.

The key for the Bulldogs is to keep their defense at this high level and keep the rotation with nine players averaging double figures in minutes.


Missouri (9-1) – No. 6 Kansas handed Missouri its first loss in a 95-67 decision on Saturday as the Jayhawks shot 57.6 percent from the floor.

Coach Dennis Gates came to Missouri from Cleveland State where he helped the Vikings into the NCAA Tournament in just his third season.

The Tigers are a tough threat as five players average double figures with D’Moi Hodge checking in with 16.5 ppg. He shoots 50 percent from the floor and is a matchup in any area.

Kobe Brown shoots 61.4 percent from the floor where he and Noah Carter position themselves inside. Their size can foster matchup issues as both are three-point threats and solid in the paint and on the boxes.

Watch Mizzou’s ball skills as the Tigers average 20.3 assists per outing, third in college basketball. In averaging 90.4 points per game, the Tigers are also currently third in scoring among the 363 D-1 college basketball teams.


Ole Miss (7-2) – The Rebels have another solid defensive team as they hold opponents to 63.5 points (67th/CBB) and a shooting percentage of 41.5 percent (108th/CBB).

Valparaiso shot only 38.6 percent from the field as Ole Miss rolled to a 98-61 win over the Crusaders on Saturday. Matthew Murrell led six Rebels in double figures with 17 points.

Murrell (14.3, 3.3 rpg) and Amare Abraham (10.7 ppg, 2.6 apg) give coach Kermit Davis tremendous guard play as both are solid playmakers and Abraham shoots 52.1 percent from the floor.

Jaemyn Brakefield and Myles Burns lead Ole Miss in rebounding with 5.9 and Brakefield shoots 59.6 percent from the floor. Burns is a tough defender and he also can mix it up on offense.

The Rebels have shot at least 45 percent in five of their eight games, but had lost their last two to Oklahoma, 59-55, and at Memphis, 68-57, before the win over Valpo.


South Carolina (5-4) – Frank Martin took over at UMass and coach Lamont Paris comes in from his solid rebuilding job at Chattanooga. He has led the Gamecocks to 5-4 mark after they won at Georgetown in overtime last week.

Being able to keep GG Jackson (17.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg) was huge as the Columbia native reclassified himself and turned his team from North Carolina to South Carolina, one season early. Jackson has a penchant to be able to score with Chico Carter, Jr., as they combine for 4.2 three-pointers per game.

Carter is another Columbia native who is South Carolina’s second-leading scorer (12.7 ppg).

The Gamecocks have several new players and will work to create a solid rotation with Jackson and Carter at the forefront and small forward Hayden Brown as another scorer who is second in rebounding with 6.0 boards per night.

South Carolina had a tough run in the Charleston Classic, but will look to more forward on offense where the Gamecocks have had problems, shooting only 39.6 percent from the floor.

Five non-conference games are left before the SEC opener at Vanderbilt. Those games could help the Gamecocks solidify their rotation and find more options on offense beside of Jackson and Carter.


Tennessee (8-2) – The Vols held off improved Maryland, 56-53, on Sunday afternoon as Tyreke Key, Jamal Mashack and Zakai Zeigler were the only scorers from the field as each made a three-point field goal in the last 11:37 of the game.

Tennessee led Maryland, 34-17, at halftime as the Terps were only 3-of-24 from the floor in the first half. For the game, Tennessee only shot 28.8 percent as Zeigler led the Volunteers with 12 points.

With the depth on this Volunteers roster, they could have their best shot at a Final Four since 2018-19.

Coach Rick Barnes has five players averaging from 9.9 points to 12.2 points per game. Four are generally starters with freshman Julian Phillips (12.2 ppg) as the leading scorer at power forward.

Key (11.4 ppg) and Vescovi (12.0 ppg) set up the Tennessee backcourt where Vescovi is the top playmaker with 3.4 assists per game.

Olivier Nkamhoua is of major impact in the post where he shoots 57.4 percent and joins Phillips and Mashack as leaders on the offensive glass.

Ziegler is the sixth man who makes Tennessee tougher to defend as he leads the Volunteers with 3.7 assists per contest. Josiah James-Jordan (8.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg) has played in five games so far while starting one due to a sore right knee.

Tennessee showed its potential with a 64-50 win over Kansas in the championship of the Battle4Atlantis after defeating USC, 73-66, in the semifinals. The Vols now match up with Arizona on Wednesday.

Last season, Tennessee won its first SEC Tournament since 1979 over Texas A&M in the title game.


Texas A&M (6-3) – The Aggies should once again be a tough out on the SEC schedules as Buzz Williams enters his fourth season in College Station.

Texas A&M trailed Oregon State, 30-26, at halftime on Sunday and then held the Beavers to 29.6 percent from the floor in the second half in carving a 72-54 win.

Dexter Dennis led four Aggies in double figures with 16 points as they scored 19 points off of 12 Beavers’ turnovers.

Wayne Taylor, IV, (15.4 ppg, 3.8 apg, 2.6 steals) and Tyrece Radford (11.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg) provide a solid backcourt in being the Aggies’ top two leading scorers.

The big key for A&M is to lock down its defense much like they did on Sunday which was on the heels of an 86-71 loss to Boise State last week.

Post Henry Coleman, formerly of Duke, and Dennis, a Wichita State transfer, should be a solid pairing as Coleman shoots 54 percent from the field inside the paint and on the boxes.


Vanderbilt (5-5) – The Commodores dropped a 64-62 decision to Grambling on Friday night as Myles Stute and Liam Robbins could only combine for nine field goal attempts in playing around 30 minutes each. The ‘Dores turned the ball over 19 times which led to 23 Tigers points.

Stute (12.9 ppg, 5.9 rog) and Robbins (12.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg) lead Vanderbilt in both scoring and rebounding.

It’s been a tough season so far as Vandy has averaged only 68.6 ppg (271/CBB) while opponents have taken the ball at Vandy as the Commodores have given up 49.5 percent from the field (224/CBB).