The SEC continues to move in unclear directions, but on specific game nights, it remains clear which players deserve to be honored as the foremost performers in the league. From the upsets to the expected victories, here are the main SEC standouts from another series of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday games.
CHRIS SILVA, SOUTH CAROLINA
The Gamecocks looked dead and buried in the early stages of the second half against Kentucky... and Vanderbilt. No, South Carolina wasn't playing two schools at the same time; Jarred Vanderbilt joined the UK lineup and gave the Wildcats a boost. Silva was able to beat Kentucky and Vanderbilt with a massive 27-point performance. The Gamecocks aren't a deeply skilled team, but they still take after Frank Martin by refusing to fold the tent. No player has worked harder or done more to keep South Carolina afloat than Silva has this season.
YANTE MATEN, GEORGIA
Georgia lost a 14-point halftime lead to Auburn, but the Bulldogs got a sorely-needed win days earlier at LSU. Maten not only provided a team-high 21 points, but he scored the game-winning basket in the final seconds when everyone in Baton Rouge (or watching at home on television in Athens) knew he was getting the rock. That's one of the central marks of great basketball players: They know everyone in the building expects them to get the ball. They get the ball in spite of a defense's efforts to deny them. They score. They win. Maten is the one constant Georgia can continue to rely on. That has been one of the most unchanging aspects of a highly volatile SEC season.
TYLER DAVIS, TEXAS A&M
With Robert Williams not playing up to his perceived NBA Draft stock relative to preseason expectations, Davis has had to shoulder more of the workload for the Aggies. It has not gone well for him. He was fouled at Kentucky in the final seconds, but no whistle blew. (Florida fouled Kentucky this past Saturday in Rupp Arena, and the Wildcats shockingly did not receive a call.) A few days after that Kentucky gut punch, Davis missed two free throws in the final 12 seconds to give LSU a chance to upset the Aggies in College Station. Tre Waters splashed a 30-footer to do exactly that. Davis's missed foul shots were what left the door open for LSU.
Davis could have hung his head, but instead, he powered A&M to a badly-needed 2-0 week in the SEC which will keep the Aggies in the NCAA Tournament's projected field. Davis was more responsible than anyone else for the Aggies' ability to fend off Ole Miss. He also contributed to the subsequent win over Missouri on the weekend. Texas A&M can't give up -- Davis is leading by example for his team.
JOHN PETTY, ALABAMA
The Alabama Crimson Tide have stabilized their season with a 2-0 week, and they also gave Auburn its first SEC loss of the season. Petty rose to the occasion against Bama's fierce rival, pouring in 27 points to put a smile on Avery Johnson's face. It is well known that Bama's supporting cast has to pick up Collin Sexton. The importance of being there for Sexton is magnified in light of the fact that the star guard continues to deal with injuries. Petty's performance could become one of the foremost saving moments in Alabama's season when we look back on SEC basketball in 2018.
KEVAUGHN ALLEN, FLORIDA
Egor Koulechov and Allen are weather-vane players for the Gators. When they're hot, they're virtually impossible to stop. When they're not, they become deeply exasperating players who leave their teams at a deficit. The great version of Allen showed up against Arkansas last Wednesday, throwing down 28 points. Due to Allen's excellence, Florida posted 88 points and looked as formidable as it could at the offensive end of the floor. Allen's reputation was affirmed.
JAYLEN BARFORD, ARKANSAS
The Razorbacks struggled immensely on defense this past week against Ole Miss and Florida, but Barford tossed in 51 points combined in those two games. He enabled Arkansas to get a split of the week by helping the Hogs outlast Ole Miss. Barford has been the most dependable offensive player for Mike Anderson, preventing the team from collapsing in January.
BRYCE BROWN, AUBURN
On a team with a sustained knack for second-half surges, Brown has become the recent second-half scoring merchant. Not for the first time in January, Brown torched an opposing defense after halftime to give Bruce Pearl another come-from-behind win. Brown scored 25 of his 28 points in the second half against Georgia to prevent AU from suffering a two-game losing streak. These microwave-like explosions are great, but in time, Auburn will need Brown and other core performers to be able to bring their A-game to the court at the start of a contest. That's a first world basketball problem at the moment, though; winning still beats losing any day of the week, no matter how stressful or uneven. Brown has been a lifesaver for Auburn in January.
RILEY LACHANCE, VANDERBILT
The ballhandler for Vanderbilt has suffered through a difficult season. Like most of the Dores, LaChance's three-point shot hasn't been consistent, and with Matthew Fisher-Davis injured, Vanderbilt has had to find other sources of production. The intersection of need and opportunity finally fell into place for LaChance against LSU. His 26 points enabled the Dores to pick up a badly-needed SEC win. We'll see if this is a catalyst for a February surge from LaChance, which would be just the tonic to revive the Bryce Drew Crew and change the way this season will be remembered in Nashville.
LAMONTE TURNER, TENNESSEE
NCAA Tournament teams get big contributions from many sources. Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield are the lead dogs for the Vols, and in crunch time, it is generally expected that one of them will get the ball. How valuable and important it is, then, for Rick Barnes to know he has third and fourth options who can deliver for him. Turner popped in 25 points on the road to give Tennessee a win over the South Carolina squad which had just upset Kentucky days earlier. Turner's performance is precisely the kind of effort which forms the building blocks of an NCAA tourney season, which is still very much on track in Knoxville.