TOP 25 REWIND: New No. 1 expected following Kansas’ loss
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Top-ranked Kansas arrived in the desert one of seven undefeated teams left in college basketball.
The Jayhawks left smarting after being stuck in the center of a midcourt Sun Devil mosh pit.
Making the biggest plays down the stretch, No. 18 Arizona State picked up one of the premiere wins in program history, beating Kansas 80-76 Saturday in a game that will shake up the AP Top 25 .
“The reality of it is, we weren’t going to run the table, let’s not get carried away,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I hate saying this, you never ever want to lose, but certainly you’d rather learn from a nonconference loss than a conference loss, so hopefully we’ll learn something from it and get better from it. I think it’s a teaching moment.”
Arizona State had a defining moment.
The Sun Devils knocked off the Jayhawks a year ago in Lawrence, part of an undefeated nonconference schedule that propelled them into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014.
Arizona State (9-2) pulled off the biggest possible resume-builder at Wells Fargo Arena, setting off a court-rushing celebration by knocking off a No. 1 team for the second time in program history (Oregon State in 1981) and first time at home.
“That was one of the great sports moments of my life,” said Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley, a two-time national champion at Duke and former NBA player.
Arizona State surely will vault up the rankings in Monday’s poll.
Kansas (10-1) will drop, though how far remains to be seen.
The good news for the Jayhawks: Big man Udoka Azubuike should return soon after missing four games with a sprained ankle.
BLUE DEVILS NO. 1?
With Kansas losing, No. 2 Duke should be poised to move into the No. 1 spot for the second time this season.
The Blue Devils sent the Jayhawks from No. 3 to No. 1 after blowing out Kentucky in their opener but then losing to Gonzaga in the Maui Invitational title game.
Duke (9-1) solidified its case by blowing out Princeton on Tuesday and surviving a big test against previously-undefeated No. 12 Texas Tech on Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Kentucky opened the season with a dismal, 34-point loss to Duke and had an unexpected setback to Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 8.
The 19th-ranked Wildcats appear to be rounding into form now, following a decisive win over Utah with a resume-building victory over No. 9 North Carolina on Sunday.
Behind Keldon Johnson’s 16 second-half points, Kentucky held off the Tar Heels 80-72 in Chicago, improving to 9-2 as it heads into Saturday’s rivalry game against Louisville.
“We’re not the same team we were two weeks ago,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “It’s not even close. And hopefully two weeks from now, we’re not gonna be the same team we are today.”
UNDEFEATED NO MORE
No. 14 Buffalo and No. 24 Furman had been among the remaining unbeaten teams heading into the weekend.
They both end it with one loss each and likely will fall in the poll.
Buffalo had no answer for Marquette’s Markus Howard on Saturday, watching the 20th-ranked Golden Eagles’ high-scoring guard rack up 40 of his 45 points in the second half of their 103-85 blowout win .
Furman moved into the rankings for the first time three weeks ago and kept winning to stay there. The Paladins could find themselves on the outside looking on Monday after losing by 20 to LSU .
No. 4 Michigan (12-0), No. 5 Virginia (11-0), No. 6 Nevada (12-0), No. 21 Houston (11-0) and St. John’s (12-0) are the only undefeated teams remaining in Division I.
No. 3 Tennessee has its highest ranking since hitting No. 1 in 2007-08. With Kansas’ loss and their lopsided win over Wake Forest this week, look for the Vols to possibly move up to No. 2 on Monday.
With Furman and No. 25 Syracuse losing, look for Oklahoma to possibly move into the Top 25.
The Sooners (11-1) just missed being ranked last week and stretched their winning streak to seven games with victories over Creighton and Northwestern.
Kansas State (9-2) also might sneak back into the poll after beating Southern Miss and Vanderbilt this week.