The Most Glaring Flaw for Every SEC Basketball Team
It’s no secret that SEC basketball is having a bad year, and there is not a shortage of flaws for almost every team.
After a weekend where bubble teams Alabama, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Tennessee all lost, the SEC is in danger of getting just two teams into the NCAA tournament.
Florida has been good at the top, but the Gators have struggled recently, especially on the road. With Mississippi State, Auburn and South Carolina, the bottom of the league is probably the worst of any BCS conference.
Here are the most glaring flaws for every SEC basketball team.
The Crimson Tide are shooting just 32.2 percent from long range, which ranks 10th in the SEC. Trevor Releford and Trevor Lacey are the only players on the roster shooting better than 30 percent from beyond the arc. Overall, Alabama is shooting just 42.9 percent from the field.
Alabama is a good defensive team, ranking No. 27 in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. Its offensive struggles are why they are on the bubble and ultimately could find themselves in the NIT.
Flaw: Winning on the road
It is pretty remarkable how different Arkansas is at home compared to on the road. The Razorbacks are 17-1 at home with wins over Florida, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee.
On the road, Arkansas is just 1-8 with the lone win over Auburn. They have lost at South Carolina and Vanderbilt by a combined score of 142-103.
If Arkansas could have won just a couple road games, it would be in the NCAA tournament. Instead, it is clinging to the bubble with a lot of work to do.
Auburn has failed to break the 60-point barrier in each of its last five games. The Tigers are ranked No. 286 nationally in effective field-goal percentage, according to KenPom.com.
Frankie Sullivan is the team’s leading scorer at 14.1 points per game, and he has taken 358 shots while no one else has attempted more than 217. Regardless of his output, Sullivan is shooting just 36.6 percent from the floor and 27.7 percent from downtown.
Flaw: Close games
Florida has won 23 games, and all 23 victories have come by at least 12 points. For the most part, the Gators have been steamrolling through their schedule.
However, of their five losses, four have come by single digits. Florida has not shown it can close out tight games, which especially came into play in its 65-64 loss at Arizona and 63-60 loss at Missouri.
The Gators do not have a go-to player in clutch situations, and they will have to figure out how to pull out close games in order to advance deep into the NCAA tournament.
Flaw: Helping Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been fantastic in his second year at Georgia, leading the team with 18.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He has scored in double figures every game this season.
The problem is that Georgia has not been able to count on anyone else to step up and give him consistent help. Nemjana Durstic is Georgia’s second leading scorer, averaging just 7.7 points per game.
Flaw: Point-guard play
From John Wall to Brandon Knight to Marquis Teague, John Calipari has not had much of a point guard problem at Kentucky. This year, however, he has gotten inconsistent play from Ryan Harrow.
Harrow is averaging 10.2 points and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 43.3 percent from the field. Lately he has been more consistent, scoring in double figures in the last four games. If Harrow plays well down the stretch, that will bode well for Kentucky’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Flaw: Defensive rebounding
LSU is allowing opponents to grab 33.5 percent of their offensive-rebound opportunities, ranking No. 252 nationally, according to KenPom.com. In the loss at Missouri on Saturday, LSU gave up 13 offensive rebounds while grabbing just 16 defensive boards.
The interesting part about LSU’s defensive rebounding woes is that the Tigers are a good offensive rebounding team. They rank fifth in offensive rebound percentage, pulling down 35.2 percent of their misses.
Flaw: Winning on the road
Ole Miss has lost its last five road games. The last three losses have come against Texas A&M, South Carolina and Mississippi State, all teams that are in the bottom half of the league standings. Saturday’s loss in Starkville snapped a 13-game slide for the Bulldogs.
The Rebels went from 17-2 and on their way to their first NCAA tournament berth since 2002 to the wrong side of the bubble. Ole Miss can thank its road woes for that stunning turnaround.
Mississippi State’s offense has been among the worst in the nation. The Bulldogs rank No. 313 nationally in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. They are last in the SEC in field-goal percentage (39.7 percent), three-point percentage (27.1 percent) and assists (9.7) per game.
Mississippi State has a lot working against it in the first year under coach Rick Ray. The Bulldogs are young and have been dealing with limited numbers thanks to injuries and suspensions. It is going to take Ray some time to build the program back into an annual competitor in the SEC.
Flaw: Winning on the road
Missouri is in good shape to make the NCAA tournament. The Tigers have put together a solid resume of neutral-court wins, beating VCU, Illinois and Stanford.
However, Missouri has not been able to pull out wins in true road games, going 2-7 with wins over lowly South Carolina and Mississippi State. They've come close in several of those games, losing by three points or less at UCLA, LSU, Texas A&M, Arkansas and dropping an overtime game at Kentucky, but they have not been able to pull out wins.
Flaw: Protecting the rim
South Carolina ranks last in the SEC in field-goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot 44.9 percent from the floor.
Inside the arc, opponents are making 50.1 percent, which ranks No. 266 nationally, according to KenPom.com. The Gamecocks lost 90-68 at home against Missouri on Feb. 28, and in that game, the Tigers made 26-of-37 (70.3 percent) from the two-point area.
In his five years at Kansas State, Frank Martin’s teams finished in the top 50 in defensive efficiency every year. This year, South Carolina is ranked No. 193.
Flaw: Three-point shooting
Tennessee really struggled offensively in the non-conference portion of their schedule. The Vols scored 45 points in a loss to Oklahoma State, 36 points in a loss to Georgetown and 38 points in a loss to Virginia.
Lately, Tennessee has been playing better offensively, but their three-point shooting still leaves something to be desired. They're currently shooting 32.2 percent from long range, which ranks 11th in the SEC. Tennessee went seven games in a row from Jan. 24 to Feb. 13 without shooting better than 30 percent from beyond the arc.
Flaw: Offensive inconsistency
Texas A&M plays at a very slow pace, which helps explain some of their offensive inefficiency. However, the Aggies have put up some truly ghastly numbers this season. In nine of their 12 losses, they failed to score 60 points; in four of those losses, they failed to score 50 points.
Part of Texas A&M’s offensive problem is the lack of scorers. Elston Turner averages 18.0 points per game, and Fabyon Harris averages 11.8. Outside of those two, Billy Kennedy doesn’t have anyone he can count on every night to produce offensively.
Flaw: Free-throw shooting
Vanderbilt is in the middle of a rebuilding year, and this could be the program’s first losing season since 2002-03. The Commodores are young and return all their major contributors next season.
While there are certainly a number of flaws with Vanderbilt, the one that sticks out the most is free-throw shooting. As a team, the Commodores are shooting 62.4 percent, which is dead last in the SEC. In its last defeat at Kentucky, Vanderbilt lost by four and made just 14-of-22 from the charity stripe.