Southeastern Conference Preview

A look at how all 14 SEC teams stack up heading into conference play

Thanks for reading the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter. If you like our work, be sure to check out our stats site, our podcast, and our social media accounts on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can also buy Her Hoop Stats gear, such as laptop stickers, mugs, and shirts!

Haven’t subscribed to the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter yet?

Conference play for the SEC begins tomorrow, December 31, and it will likely be an exciting season for one of the strongest conferences in the NCAA. While South Carolina wiped the floor with everyone last year, some teams are making cases to put up a strong fight against the defending league champs. 

Here’s a snapshot of where all 14 teams stand heading into conference play tomorrow. All statistics referenced are from our stats site, with transfer information from  Women’s Basketball Blog. All freshmen rankings noted are from espnW’s HoopGurlz 2020 recruiting rankings.

Preseason SEC Coaches’ Predictions

1. South Carolina

2. Kentucky

3. Texas A&M

4. Arkansas

5. Mississippi State

6. Tennessee

7. LSU

8. Alabama

9. Georgia

10. Missouri

11. Ole Miss

12. Florida

13. Vanderbilt

14. Auburn

Alabama Crimson Tide (7-0)

2019 SEC Results: 8-8, lost to Georgia in second round of conference tournament

2020-21 stats: 

PPG: 83.3

Points allowed: 62.9 

Margin per game: 20.4

Offensive rating: 117.8 (ranked eighth nationally)

Defensive rating: 87.6

Pace: 71.2

Incoming players:

Taylor Sutton (Middle Tennessee transfer)

Myra Gordon, freshman (ranked 100 in 2020 class)

Outgoing players:

Cierra Johnson (graduation)

Ashley Knight (graduation)

Alabama is off to its hottest start since 2016. The team is ranked eighth in offensive rating and is averaging bests in points per game, field goal percentage, total rebounds, free throws made and attempted, assists, and turnovers since 2015. The Crimson Tide also already have a power conference win on the resume — an impressive win against Oklahoma State by way of overcoming a 17-point third-quarter deficit. 

First five scheduled SEC matches: 12/31 @ Missouri, 1/4 vs. South Carolina, 1/7 vs. LSU, 1/10 @ Vanderbilt, 1/14 @ Mississippi State

Arkansas Razorbacks (9-1)

2019 SEC results: 10-6, lost to South Carolina in tournament semifinals

2020-21 stats: 

PPG: 91.2 (fourth)

Points allowed: 68.1

Margin: 23.1

Offensive rating: 112.0

Defensive rating: 84.2

Pace: 81.2 (ninth)

Incoming players:

Destiny Slocum (grad transfer from Oregon St.)

Elauna Eaton, freshman (ranked No. 38 in 2020 class) out with season-ending injury

Outgoing players:

Alexis Tolefree (graduation)

Kiara Williams (graduation)

A’Tyanna Gaulden (transferred to Georgia Southern)

Rokia Doumbia (transferred to Purdue)

Ginger Reece (entered transfer portal)

Arkansas is ranked 10th overall in the AP Top 25 poll — its first top-10 ranking since January 2003. The team’s 91.2 points per game ranks fourth in the entire country, and it’s not like the Razorbacks haven’t faced any quality opponents. The team has a ranked win against Baylor and some quality wins against Wake Forest and FGCU. Its only loss of the season came against Maryland on the final day of the Gulf Coast Showcase (which could have been due to fatigue after playing three days straight, although the Razorbacks still managed to put up 96 points). Chelsea Dungee leads the team with 18.9 points per game and was recognized as this season’s first SEC Player of the Week, which is also her first weekly SEC honor and Arkansas’ first since December 2015. 

First five scheduled SEC matches: 12/31 @ Kentucky, 1/3 vs. Missouri, 1/7 @ Tennessee,  1/10 vs. Texas A&M, 1/14 vs. Florida 

Auburn Tigers (5-3)

2019 SEC results: 4-12, lost to Arkansas in the second round of tournament

2020-21 stats: 

PPG: 73.1

Points allowed: 66.1

Margin: 7.0

Offensive rating: 96.9

Defensive rating: 86.7

Pace: 74.8

Incoming players:

Alycia Reese, (transfer from Chattahoochee Valley Community College)

Keya Patton, (transfer from Wabash Valley Community College)

Aicha Coulibaly, freshman

Romi Levy, freshman

Kira Lowrey, (transfer from Dyersburg State Community College)

Jala Jordan (transfer from West Virginia), sat out last year

Alaina Rice (sophomore) (transfer from Florida A&M)

Honesty Scott-Grayson (transfer from Baylor) sat out last year

Carsen McFadden, freshman

Riley Donahue, freshman

Outgoing players:

Daisa Alexander (graduation)

Robyn Benton (transferred to Kentucky)

Lauren Hansen (transferred to Missouri)

Erin Howard (transferred to Florida State)

Abi Jackson (transferred to Missouri State)

Natalie Kelly (transferred to Southeastern Louisiana)

Brooke Moore (transferred to Purdue)

Maliya Perry (transferred to Dayton)

Even with seven players transferring from the program last year, the Auburn Tigers managed to bring in eight new players through freshmen recruits and transfers, along with their two transfers who sat out last year. The Tigers kept their most important piece, though, in senior Unique Thompson, who is one of only four returners who took the floor for Auburn last year. Auburn’s success will revolve around Thompson, who is currently averaging 18.8 points and a Division I-leading 15.2 rebounds per game. 

Head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy also brought in players who experienced success at their old schools — Keya Patton is a two-time NJCAA All-American, Kira Lowery received third-team All American NJCAA honors in 2020, and Alaina Rice is the MEAC’s reigning Rookie of the Year.

First five scheduled SEC matches: 12/31 @ LSU, 1/3 vs. Georgia, 1/7 @ Ole Miss, 1/10 vs. Missouri, 1/14 vs. Kentucky

Florida Gators (7-1)

2019 SEC results: 6-10, lost to LSU in the second round of the tournament 

2020-21 stats: 

PPG: 80.5

Points allowed: 59.8

Margin: 20.8

Offensive rating: 107.0

Defensive rating: 79.9

Pace: 74.5

Incoming players:

Jordyn Merritt, freshman (ranked No. 31 in 2020 class)

Yasmeen Chang (transfer from Miami)

Cydnee Kinslow (grad transfer from Long Beach State)

Emily Sullivan (grad transfer from North Carolina)

Outgoing players:

Zada Williams (graduation)

Paige Robinson (graduation)

Brylee Bartram (transferred to Vanderbilt)

Ariel Johnson (transferred to Loyola Marymount)

Florida finished its non-conference schedule with its best winning percentage since 2015, and its only loss has come against Florida State. Lavender Briggs, Florida’s 2020 All-SEC freshman, is the team’s clear leader and is averaging 32.4 minutes per game, but junior Kiara Smith currently tops the team with 16.8 points per game and has the best rebounding average of her career (7.0). Smith’s shooting percentage has also improved from 39.7% in 2019 to 54.1% in 2020. 

First five scheduled SEC matches: 12/31 @ South Carolina, 1/3 vs. Texas A&M, 1/7 vs. Mississippi State, 1/10 @ Georgia, 1/14 @ Arkansas

Georgia Bulldogs (8-0)

2019 SEC results: 7-9, lost to South Carolina in tournament quarterfinals 

2020-21 stats: 

PPG: 80.8

Points allowed: 55.4

Margin: 25.4

Offensive rating: 103.0

Defensive rating: 71.9 (10th in the country)

Pace: 76.5

Incoming players:

Maori Davenport (transfer from Rutgers)

Mikayla Coombs (transfer from UConn) sat out last year

Sarah Ashlee Barker, freshman (ranked No. 80 in the 2020 class)

Zoesha Smith, freshman

Outgoing players:

Stephanie Paul (graduation)

Shaniya Jones (dismissed from team)

Kaila Hubbard (opted out of season)

The Bulldogs have quality wins against Georgia Tech and Oklahoma, and their defensive rating is the 10th best in the country. The Bulldogs have held their opponents to .63 points per play (11th best in Division 1) and just 33.4% from the field (23rd in the country). Senior Jenna Staiti leads the team with 15.0 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. 

First five scheduled SEC matches: 12/31 vs. Mississippi State, 1/3 @ Auburn, 1/7 @ South Carolina, 1/10 vs. Florida, 1/14 @ Tennessee 

Kentucky Wildcats (7-1)

2019 SEC results: 10-6, lost to Mississippi State in tournament semifinals 

2020-21 stats: 

PPG: 79.4

Points allowed: 56.1

Margin: 23.2

Offensive rating: 109.7

Defensive rating: 76.5

Pace: 72.9

Incoming players:

Dre’Una Edwards (transfer from Utah) sat out last year

Olivia Owens (transfer from Maryland) sat out last year

Robyn Benton (transfer from Auburn)

Jazmine Massengill (transfer from Tennessee)

Treasure Hunt, freshman (ranked No. 29 in 2020 class)

Nyah Leveretter, freshman (ranked No. 83 in 2020 class)

Erin Toller, freshman (ranked No. 91 in 2020 class)

Notable outgoing players:

Amanda Paschal (graduation)

Sabrina Haines (graduation)

Jaida Roper (graduation)

Nae Nae Cole (graduation)

Deasia Merrill (transferred to Georgia State)

While Rhyne Howard led the team in scoring last year, the Wildcats have two other talented players who have been carrying the load alongside her this season. Howard and Dre’Una Edwards are each averaging 15.5 points per game and Chasity Patterson is right behind with 15.4. Edwards leads the team in rebounding with 8.9 boards per game as well as a team-high 6.8 field goals per game on 59.3% shooting. Even more impressive is that Edwards is doing all of this in only 24.0 minutes per game. 

First five scheduled SEC matches: 12/31 vs. Arkansas, 1/3 @ Tennessee, 1/7 @ Texas A&M, 1/10 vs. South Carolina, 1/14 @ Auburn 

LSU Tigers (2-4)

2019 SEC results: 19-7, lost to Mississippi State in tournament quarterfinals

2020-21 stats: 

PPG: 53.5

Points allowed: 61.5

Margin: -8.0

Offensive rating: 77.9

Defensive rating: 88.9

Pace: 68.9

Incoming players:

Ryann Payne (transfer from TCU)

Sarah Shematsi (transfer from South Plains College - NJCAA)

Destini Lombard, freshman

Ajae Petty, freshman

Treasure Thompson, freshman

Amirah O’Neal, freshman preferred walk-on

Outgoing players:

Ayana Mitchell (graduation)

Mercedes Brooks (graduation)

Jaelyn Richard-Harris (graduation)

Latoya Ashman (graduation)

LSU’s 2-4 record is its worst start in the last six years. The team opened the season 0-3 with losses against BYU, West Virginia, and UCF, and later dropped a game to Pacific. The team’s only wins have come against Louisiana and Loyola Marymount. Losing Ayana Mitchell, who averaged 8.2 rebounds over the span of her LSU career, is a big hit to the Tigers on the glass. Faustine Aifuwa has stepped up in her place, and her team-best 9.8 boards per game ranks in the top three percent of Division I. However, she isn’t receiving much help, and as a result, LSU is only averaging 29.2 rebounds a game, which ranks in the bottom three percent in the entire country (only nine teams are currently doing worse). What’s more,  LSU isn’t thriving on offense either. The Tigers’ overall shooting percentage is 35.5%, including just 27.2% from three and 57.9% from the free-throw line. 

First five scheduled SEC matches: 12/31 vs. Auburn, 1/3 @ Ole Miss, 1/7 @ Alabama, 1/10 vs. Tennessee, 1/14 vs. Texas A&M

Missouri Tigers (4-1)

2019 SEC results: 5-11, lost to Tennessee in second round of tournament

2020-21 stats: 

PPG: 81.0

Points allowed: 57.4

Margin: 23.6

Offensive rating: 109.5

Defensive rating: 78.8

Pace: 73.4

Incoming players:

LaDazhia Williams (transfer from South Carolina) sat out last year

Shannon Dufficy (grad transfer from Utah State) sat out last year

Shug Dickson (transfer from Tulsa/Texas Tech) sat out last year

Lauren Hansen (transfer from Auburn)

Jayla Kelly, freshman (ranked No. 72 in 2020 class)

Mama Dembele, freshman

Sara-Rose Smith, freshman

Micah Linthacum, redshirt freshman

Outgoing players:

Amber Smith (graduation)

Jordan Roundtree (graduation)

Jordan Chavis (graduation)

Hannah Schuchts (graduation)

Elle Brown (joined Mizzou Track & Field)

Brittany Garner (transferred to CCBC Essex - NJCAA)

Despite playing only five total non-conference games this season (five were canceled or postponed because of COVID protocols in the Tiger program during a 17-day layoff), Mizzou already has more wins heading into conference play than it did last year. Only four active players from last year returned, but the Tigers do have four players who practiced with the team last season during their redshirt year, including three upperclassmen transfers. One of those transfers — LaDazhia Williams —is already making her mark in the post, something Mizzou has lacked over the last few seasons. Williams is averaging 13.0 points and 4.9 rebounds per game on 68.3% shooting. Still, Williams isn’t even their best rebounder or most efficient scorer right now. Sophomores Aijha Blackwell and Hayley Frank (who were both All-SEC freshman selections last year) are stepping into their new roles as the program’s leaders. Blackwell tops the team with 14.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game and Frank is right behind her at 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds with a 90.3 effective field goal percentage. As a team, Missouri’s average field goal percentage (54.5%) and effective field goal percentage (60.3%) ranks second in the nation.

Because of the Tigers game cancellations, however, they haven’t played away from home yet this season. Their first comes against a really good Arkansas team on January 3. 

First five scheduled SEC matches: 12/31 vs. Alabama, 1/3 @ Arkansas, 1/7 vs. Vanderbilt (canceled), 1/10 @ Auburn, 1/14 @ Ole Miss 

Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-1)

2019 SEC results: 13-3, lost to South Carolina in tournament finals

2020-21 stats: 

PPG: 85.2

Points allowed: 59.3

Margin: 25.8

Offensive rating: 109.4

Defensive rating: 78.2.

Pace: 75.3

Incoming players:

Caterrion Thompson (transfer from Bowling Green)

Madison Hayes, freshman (ranked No. 28 in the 2020 class)

Charlotte Kohl, freshman

Outgoing players:

Jordan Danberry (graduation)

Chloe Bibby (transferred to Maryland)

Jayla Hemingway (transferred to West Virginia)

Bre’Amber Scott (transferred to Little Rock)

Andra Espinoza-Hunter (transferred to Seton Hall)

Mississippi State is one of the most experienced teams in the conference with only four underclassmen on the roster. An overtime loss to South Florida in their third game pushed the Bulldogs out of the top 10 in the AP Poll, but this is still a very good team that’s just getting used to a different system under new head coach Nikki McCray-Penson. Sophomore Rickea Jackson leads the team in points with 17.5 per game, and junior Jessica Carter is averaging 17.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks.

First five scheduled SEC matches: 12/31 @ Georgia, 1/3 vs. Vanderbilt (canceled), 1/7 @ Florida, 1/10 vs. Ole Miss, 1/14 vs. Alabama

Ole Miss Rebels (6-0)

2019 SEC results: 0-16, lost to Missouri in first round of tournament

2020-21 stats: 

PPG: 85.3

Points allowed: 48.3

Margin: 37.0

Offensive rating: 109.2 

Defensive rating: 63.5

Pace: 77.2

Incoming players:

Shakira Austin (transfer from Maryland)

Donnetta Johnson (transfer from Georgia), sat out last year

Madison Scott, freshman (ranked No. 15 in 2020 class)

Jacorriah Bracey, freshman (ranked No. 47 in 2020 class)

Snudda Collins, freshman

Caitlin McGee, redshirt freshman 

Outgoing players:

Deja Cage (transferred to Middle Tennessee)

Jayla Alexander (transferred to Georgetown)

Dominique Banks (transferred to South Carolina State)

Brynn Parker (transferred to Dixie State)

Torri Lewis (graduation)

Would anyone at this point last year have pegged the Rebels as the second-best defense in the country heading into SEC play? Probably not, but they are averaging 13.2 steals per game (fourth-best in the country), and holding their opponents to just 28.1% from the floor and 0.55 points per play. The Rebels have one of the stronger incoming groups in the conference with Shakira Austin, who ESPN rated the top transfer this year, as well as the SEC’s best freshman class headlined by Madison Scott. Austin is averaging 17.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, and 1.5 steals a game, while Scott’s stat line is equally impressive at 12.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.8 steals. For a team that hasn’t won an SEC game since Feb. 14, 2019, the Rebels could be a surprise contender. Regardless, this team is nothing like the one that went winless in the SEC last year. 

First five scheduled SEC matches: 12/31 @ South Carolina (postponed), 1/4 vs. LSU, 1/7 vs. Auburn, 1/10 @ Mississippi State, 1/14 vs. Missouri

South Carolina Gamecocks (5-1)

2019 SEC results: 16-0, won SEC tournament

2020-21 stats: 

PPG: 85.2

Points allowed: 56.8

Margin: 28.3

Offensive rating: 113.8 

Defensive rating: 77.3

Pace: 74

Incoming players:

Destiny Littleton (transferred from Texas) sat out last year

Eniya Russell, freshman (ranked No. 43 in the 2020 class)

Outgoing players:

Tyasha Harris (graduation)

Mikiah Herbert Harrigan (graduation)

South Carolina probably had the toughest non-conference schedule of the pack, and the Gamecocks are still set to face UConn in Storrs in mid-February, but it's nothing last year’s No. 1 team can’t handle. They still enter conference play with only one loss, that coming against now-No. 3 NC State. Sophomore Zia Cooke leads the team with 17.7 points and 2.8 assists per game, while Destanni Henderson is enjoying her best season by far, averaging 12.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.0 assists. Laeticia Amihere is making the most out of her increase in minutes this season as well, averaging 9.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in 21.0 minutes. And of course, the Gamecocks still have last year’s National Freshman of the Year and Lisa Leslie Center of the Year: Aliyah Boston

First five scheduled SEC matches: 12/31 vs. Florida, 1/4 @ Alabama, 1/7 vs. Georgia, 1/10 @ Kentucky, 1/14 @ Vanderbilt

Tennessee Lady Volunteers (6-1)

2019 SEC results: 10-6, lost to Kentucky in tournament quarterfinals

2020-21 stats: 

PPG: 75.1

Points allowed: 54.1

Margin: 21.0

Offensive rating: 101.9

Defensive rating: 72.6

Pace: 72.8

Incoming players:

Keyen Green (grad transfer from Liberty)

Jordan Walker (grad transfer from Western Michigan)

Destiny Salary, freshman (ranked No. 57 in 2020 class)

Marta Suarez, freshman

Tess Darby, freshman

Outgoing players:

Jazmine Massengill (transferred to Kentucky)

Zaay Green (transferred to Texas A&M)

Lou Brown (graduation)

Kamera Harris (graduation)

The Tennessee Lady Volunteers’ only loss this year came against a good West Virginia team in overtime, but they later pulled out an upset against ranked Indiana. Rae Burrell leads the team with 16.6 points per game, and senior Rennia Davis is averaging 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds. They’ll face a huge test on the road against Texas A&M to begin league play, but SEC openers haven’t been of huge concern for the Lady Vols in the past. They’ve won their conference opener in six straight seasons and are 15-3 all-time in SEC road openers. 

First five scheduled SEC matches: 12/31 @ Texas A&M, 1/3 vs. Kentucky, 1/7 Arkansas, 1/10 @ LSU, 1/14 vs. Georgia

Texas A&M Aggies (9-0)

2019 SEC results: 10-6, lost to Arkansas in tournament quarterfinals

2020-21 stats: 

PPG: 82.2

Points allowed: 59.9

Margin: 22.3

Offensive rating: 111.6

Defensive rating: 81.4

Pace: 73.6

Incoming players:

Zaay Green (transfer from Tennessee)

Alexis Morris (transfer from Rutgers)

Destiny Pitts (transfer from Minnesota)

Jordan Nixon (transfer from Notre Dame) sat out last year

Ella Tofaeono (transfer from Midland College - NJCAA)

Kay Kay Green, freshman (ranked No. 48 in 2020 class)

Sahara Jones, freshman (ranked No. 75 in 2020 class)

Maliyah Johnson, freshman (ranked No. 76 in 2020 class)

Outgoing players:

Chennedy Carter (left for WNBA)

Shambria Washington (graduation)

Cheah Rael-Whittsitt (graduation)

Jasmine Williams (graduation)

Aahliyah Jackson (transferred to TCU)

Although the Aggies lost Chennedy Carter early to the WNBA draft, head coach Gary Blair managed to bring in enough talent to make up for the loss. The country’s No. 9 ranked team is making 50.2% of its shots (ninth-best in the nation), and the offensive rating is currently 18th in the NCAA. Transfer Alexis Morris is shooting a team-high 61.3% from the field, and her 32.3% usage rate is best on the team (although not quite Carter’s 37.2% usage rate from last year). Destiny Pitts also adds a 3-point element to the Aggies game, which is already better than it was last year. Zaay Green was one of a handful of transfers who didn’t receive a waiver for immediate eligibility until the NCAA granted a blanket waiver, so she’s only played one game as an Aggie. All that said, N’dea Jones will be the team’s key to success. She’s averaging 12.9 points and 9.1 rebounds in 27.7 minutes per game. 

First five scheduled SEC matches: 12/31 vs. Tennessee, 1/3 @ Florida, 1/7 vs. Kentucky, 1/10 @ Arkansas, 1/14 @ LSU

Vanderbilt Commodores (4-1)

2019 SEC results: 4-12, lost to Auburn in first round of tournament

2020-21 stats: 

PPG: 84.4

Points allowed: 72.0

Margin: 12.4

Offensive rating: 105.5

Defensive rating: 91.8

Pace: 79.2

Incoming players:

Brylee Bartram (transfer from Florida)

Enna Pehadzic (transfer from South Florida)

Emily Bowman, freshman

Bella LaChance, freshman

Outgoing players:

Mariella Fasoula (graduation)

Sarah Gordon (graduation)

LeaLea Carter (graduation)

Akira Levy (did not play last year, transferred to Cincinnati)

Vanderbilt missed its first three games of the season for COVID-related reasons and announced this week that the last non-conference game against Samford, as well as the first three SEC matchups, have also been postponed because of a positive COVID test in the program. The Commodores are now set to open SEC play against Florida on Jan.10.

Although Vanderbilt has only played five games so far, sophomore Koi Love has already shown what she’s capable of. An All-SEC freshman selection last year, Love has shown significant improvement in all major stats and leads the team with 22.4 points and 11.0 rebound per game. 

First five scheduled SEC matches: 1/10 vs Florida, 1/14 vs South Carolina, 1/17 @ Kentucky, 1/24 vs. Tennessee, 1/28 @ Arkansas

Thanks for reading the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter. If you like our work, be sure to check out our stats site, our podcast, and our social media accounts on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can also buy Her Hoop Stats gear, such as laptop stickers, mugs, and shirts!

Haven’t subscribed to the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter yet?