TOP 25 REWIND: No. 14 Virginia struggles vs ranked ACC foes
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Virginia coach Tony Bennett has built a program that thrives on defense, toughness and smart play while running a deliberate offense that doesn’t put up big numbers.
The past week in the AP Top 25 offered a glaring look at the 14th-ranked Cavaliers’ small margin for error when facing strong offenses and ranked teams.
The Cavaliers (18-8, 8-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) lost 65-55 at home to No. 12 Duke on Wednesday night, then took a 65-41 loss at No. 10 North Carolina on Saturday. In both games, Virginia trailed for most or all of the second half while struggling to find its shot.
And when the Cavaliers get down against an opponent finding room against their defense, it’s hard for them to rally with limited offensive punch.
”I wish we could find easier ways to get some buckets to give us a little more cushion, because we’ve got to be really right to play against anybody in this league defensively and offensively,” Bennett said after the UNC loss. ”And when we aren’t there on either end, it shows.”
Virginia was allowing teams to average 55.1 points and shoot 39 percent entering the week, including just 32 percent from 3-point range. But the Blue Devils shot 45 percent and made 9 of 19 3-pointers (47 percent), then the Tar Heels shot 47 percent and made 7 of 19 3s (37 percent).
The Cavaliers shot 32 percent in those two games, including 7 for 40 (18 percent) from behind the arc, to sustain their first three-game skid in the same season since 2011.
”We can’t dwell on it,” guard London Perrantes said. ”We’ve got a game on Monday (against Miami). As tough as it sounds, we’ve just got to get over it.”
JAYHAWKS’ BIG WEEK: While Virginia struggled, No. 3 Kansas inched closer to a 13th straight Big 12 championship.
Kansas first rallied from 14 down late in regulation to beat No. 9 West Virginia 84-80 in overtime Monday, then followed with a more modest rally in Saturday’s 67-65 win at No. 4 Baylor.
Those victories gave the Jayhawks (24-3, 12-2) a three-game lead in the Big 12 standings with four games to play. Kansas hosts TCU on Wednesday.
As coach Bill Self put it: ”Well, we put ourselves in great position.”
OVERTIME TESTS: Staying in the Big 12, West Virginia (21-6, 9-5) had a longer week than usual – 15 minutes to be exact. The Mountaineers lost 84-80 in overtime at Kansas on Monday, then beat Texas Tech 83-74 in double overtime Saturday.
STILL UNBEATEN: Top-ranked Gonzaga is closing in on an unbeaten regular season.
The Bulldogs (28-0, 16-0 West Coast Conference) beat San Francisco 96-61 on Thursday, then beat Pacific 82-61 . They’re down to two regular-season games left to follow 2014-15 Kentucky, the last unbeaten regular-season team.
GAMECOCKS’ STUMBLES: No. 21 South Carolina joined Baylor (which also lost to Texas Tech this week) and Virginia as two-loss teams in last week’s AP Top 25. But both the Gamecocks’ losses came to unranked opponents.
South Carolina (20-7, 10-4 Southeastern Conference) lost at home Wednesday to an Arkansas team on the bubble, then fell Saturday at Vanderbilt .
PAC-12 TRIO ROLLING: No. 5 Arizona, No. 6 UCLA and No. 7 Oregon had no troubles staying atop the Pac-12.
The Wildcats (25-3, 14-1) beat Washington State and Washington, with the closest game being a 76-68 win against the Huskies on Saturday.
The Bruins (24-3, 11-3) beat USC by 32 points , while the Ducks (24-4, 13-2) beat Utah and Colorado , both wins coming by at least 18 points.
HIGHLIGHT REEL: Let’s take a look at a pair of long shots this week, one from a game involving a ranked team to end a half, and the other to cap a wild win in a game featuring two unranked teams.
First there was Georgia’s J.J. Frazier hitting a high-arcing 3-pointer to beat the halftime horn in Saturday’s 82-77 loss to No. 13 Kentucky, part of his 36-point night.
Then there was Louisiana-Lafayette’s Johnathan Stove sprinting upcourt after a missed free throw with 3.8 seconds left to hit a halfcourt shot and beat Louisiana-Monroe 85-84 on Saturday night.
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap
More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25
- Colorado Buffaloes
- Gonzaga Bulldogs
- North Carolina Tar Heels
- San Francisco Dons
- South Carolina Gamecocks
- Utah Utes
- Virginia Cavaliers
- Washington State Cougars
- West Coast