Top 25 Countdown: Others receiving votes

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of the Top 25, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Butler:

  • Last Season: 22-15, 11-7 Horizon (t-3rd); Lost in the CBI semifinals
  • Key Losses: Ronald Nored, Chrishawn Hopkins
  • Key Returnees: Andrew Smith (10.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Khyle Marshall (9.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg), Roosevelt Jones (7.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Rotnei Clarke, Kellen Dunham
  • Outlook: Butler is always a tough team defensively, they are much more athletic than you would expect a Butler team to be, and they addressed their biggest issue from last season (perimeter shooting) with the additions of Clarke and Dunham. The problem? The point guard spot. They lost their best defender (Nored) to graduation and their best play maker (Hopkins) to the dreaded violation of team rules.

Cincinnati:

  • Last Season: 26-11, 12-6 Big East (t-4th); Lost to Ohio State in the Sweet 16
  • Key Losses: Yancy Gates, Dion Dixon
  • Key Returnees: Sean Kilpatrick (14.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg), Cashmere Wright (10.9 ppg, 4.6 apg, 2.0 spg), JaQuon Parker (9.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg), Justin Jackson (5.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.6 bpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Titus Rubles, Shaquille Thomas
  • Outlook: Cincinnati’s perimeter attack is promising as they bring back Kilpatrick, who will compete for Big East Player of the Year, and one of the most underrated point guards in the conference in Wright. The key will be Parker’s ability to rebound and defend at the four spot, which allows the Bearcats to play small. Cincinnati will  have to do that quite often, as they have quite a few question marks up front.

Davidson:

  • Last Season: 25-8, 16-2 SoCon (1st); Lost to Louisville in the Opening Round
  • Key Losses: None
  • Key Returnees: De’Mon Brooks (15.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Jake Cohen (14.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.7 bpg), Nik Cochran (10.9 ppg, 3.6 apg), JP Kuhlman (10.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg), Chris Czerapowicz (10.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: None
  • Outlook: Davidson won the usually-balanced Southern Conference by four full games last season. They went into Kansas City and knocked off Kansas. They gave Louisville a fight in the first round of the NCAA tournament. And they bring everyone back from last season. The Wildcats have a chance to be very, very good this season.

Drexel:

  • Last Season: 29-7, 16-2 CAA (1st); Lost in the NIT Quarterfinals
  • Key Losses: Samme Givens
  • Key Returnees: Frantz Massenat (13.7 ppg, 4.8 apg), Damion Lee (12.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg), Chris Fouch (10.8 ppg)
  • Key Newcomers: Tavon Allen, Casey Carroll
  • Outlook: With VCU leaving the CAA, the Dragons look like they will be the favorite to repeat as conference champions. Losing Givens will hurt, but Bruiser Flint has plenty of big bodies at his disposal. The perimeter attack will be as good as ever, as Massenat will be preseason 1st team all-CAA while Lee (a sophomore) has a chance to be the conference player of the year before he graduates.

Florida State:

  • Last Season: 25-9, 12-4 ACC (3rd); Lost to Cincinnati in the Round of 32
  • Key Losses: Bernard James, Luke Loucks, Deividas Dulkys
  • Key Returnees: Michael Snaer (14.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg), Ian Miller (10.3 ppg), Okaro White (7.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Montay Brandon, Aaron Thomas, Devon Bookert, Boris Bojanovsky
  • Outlook: Florida State is always going to be a tough team defensively. They are always going to have big, physical post players. That’s never going to change. This year, they’ll have one of the best all-around guards in the country in Snaer in the mix. The key will be if Miller or the talented crop of freshmen guards can develop and provide Snaer with some offensive support.

Kansas State:

  • Last Season: 22-11, 10-8 Big 12 (5th); Lost to Syracuse in the Round of 32
  • Key Losses: Frank Martin (coach), Jamar Samuels
  • Key Returnees: Rodney McGruder (15.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Angel Rodriguez (8.3 ppg, 3.2 apg), Jordan Henriquez (7.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.4 bpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Bruce Weber (coach), Michael Orris, Darrell Johnson
  • Outlook: The Wildcats have a solid core to build their team around. McGruder is a potential Big 12 Player of the Year candidate while Rodriguez is a guy that will be on quite a few breakout performer lists. Throw in Will Spradling in the back court on a front court anchored by Henriquez and the big-bodied Thomas Gipson, and K-State’s got a chance to win the league if they can adapt to Bruce Weber’s coaching style.

Marquette:

  • Last Season: 27-8, 14-4 Big East (2nd); Lost to Florida in the Sweet 16
  • Key Losses: Darius Johnson-Odom, Jae Crowder
  • Key Returnees: Vander Blue (8.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.6 apg), Junior Cadougan (6.3 ppg, 5.4 apg), Davante Gardner (9.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg), Todd Mayo (7.9 ppg)
  • Key Newcomers: Trent Lockett, Steve Taylor, Jamal Ferguson
  • Outlook: Marquette has a slew of quality players on their roster, particularly on their perimeter, but there are a couple question marks I have for this group. Is there a go-to guy on the roster? How good will Arizona State transfer Trent Lockett be playing meaningful games? Who has the ball in their hands at the end of a clock? Who fills the role of the face-up power forward vacated by Crowder?

Miami:

  • Last Season: 20-13, 9-7 (t-4th);  Lost in the Second Round of the NIT
  • Key Losses: Malcolm Grant, DeQuan Jones
  • Key Returnees: Durand Scott (12.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.1 apg), Kenny Kadji (11.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 41.8% 3’s), Reggie Johnson (10.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg), Shane Larkin (7.4 ppg, 2.9 apg)
  • Key Newcomers: Bishop Daniels
  • Outlook: The ‘Canes look like they could end up being the best team in the ACC outside of the Triangle this season. Kadji and Johnson form a nice inside-outside duo in the front court while Scott and Larkin headline a versatile group on the perimeter. If Miami is going to make some noise, this is the year to do it: six of their top seven players are seniors.

Minnesota:

  • Last Season: 23-15, 6-12 Big Ten (9th); Lost in the NIT Final
  • Key Losses: Ralph Sampson III
  • Key Returnees: Trevor Mbakwe (14.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.7 bpg), Rodney Williams (12.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg), Julian Welch (9.5 ppg, 2.9 apg, 43.8% 3’s)
  • Key Newcomers: Charles Buggs, Wally Ellenson
  • Outlook: Looking at the Gopher’s rotation, there is a lot to like. For starters, double-double machine Mbakwe is back for a sixth-year. Will Williams alongside him up front and a trio of talented perimeter players in Welch and the two Hollinses, Tubby Smith has an NCAA tournament-caliber team. The point guard spot will once again be a year-long question mark, however.

Murray State:

  • Last Season: 31-2, 15-1 OVC (1st); Lost to Marquette in the Round of 32
  • Key Losses: Donte Poole, Ivan Aska, Jewuan Long
  • Key Returnees: Isaiah Canaan (19.0 ppg, 3.6 apg, 45.6% 3’s), Ed Daniel (6.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg), Zay Jackson? (4.9 ppg, 2.3 apg)
  • Key Newcomers: Erick McCree, Jeffery Moss, CJ Ford
  • Outlook: Murray State lost quite a few important players from last season’s team, but the good news is that they do get back an all-american in Canaan and the athletic and energetic Daniel. Those two will put up numbers and Murray State will wins a lot of games, but a stronger OVC combined with Jackson’s off-season arrest makes a return trip to the dance anything but a guarantee.

North Texas:

  • Last Season: 18-14, 9-7 Sun Belt (5th)
  • Key Losses: Johnny Jones (coach)
  • Key Returnees: Tony Mitchell (14.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3.0 bpg), Chris Jones (14.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.3 apg, 2.4 spg), Jordan Williams (10.9 ppg), Alzee Williams (10.5 ppg)
  • Key Newcomers: Tony Benford (coach), TJ Taylor, Keith Coleman, Clarke Overlander, PJ Hardwick
  • Outlook: Normally, teams that finish fifth in the Sun Belt aren’t destined to be top 25 programs, but this Mean Green team is anything but normal. Mitchell is a lottery pick that never was eligible at Missouri. Jones and Jordan Williams were academically ineligible for the second semester last season. Taylor signed with Oklahoma out of high school and Marquette out of Junior College. Roger Franklin transferred in from Oklahoma State. Benford has a very, very good team on his hands.

Oklahoma State:

  • Last Season: 15-18, 7-11 Big 12 (9th)
  • Key Losses: Keiton Page, Cezar Guerrero
  • Key Returnees: Le’Bryan Nash (13.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg), Markel Brown (10.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.4 apg), Brian Williams (9.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg), JP Olukemi* (9.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Marcus Smart, Phil Forte, Kamari Murphy, Kirby Gardner
  • Outlook: There’s a lot to like with this Oklahoma State team, especially if Olukemi gets his waiver to be eligible all season. Nash and Smart give the Cowboys more consensus top ten recruits than the entire ACC. Markel Brown is a Sportscenter Top Ten play waiting to happen. But they have no size and question marks at the point. Smart has drawn rave reviews at that spot, but can he run the show at the Big 12 level?

Saint Mary’s:

  • Last Season: 27-6, 14-2 WCC (1st); Lost to Purdue in the Opening Round
  • Key Losses: Rob Jones, Clint Steindl
  • Key Returnees: Matthew Dellavedova (15.5 ppg, 6.4 apg), Stephen Holt (10.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.8 spg), Brad Waldow (8.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Chris Reyes
  • Outlook: Losing Jones will hurt, but with a very talented back court — headlined by Dellavedova and the underrated Holt — returning, Randy Bennett’s club should be able to compete with Gonzaga for the WCC title once again. Two things to keep an eye on: the development of the sophomore Waldow up front, and what, if any, sanctions will come out of the investigation into the Gaels’ recruiting.

South Dakota State:

  • Last Season: 27-8, 15-3 Summit (2nd); Lost to Baylor in the Opening Round
  • Key Losses: Griffin Callahan
  • Key Returnees: Nate Wolters (21.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 5.9 apg), Jordan Dykstra (11.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 47.3% 3’s), Chad White (9.3 ppg, 47.2% 3’s), Brayden Carlsen (7.3 ppg, 46.1% 3’s)
  • Key Newcomers: Connor Divine, Jacob Bittle, Matt Donlan
  • Outlook: The Jackrabbits bring back Wolters, who is undoubtedly one of the most valuable players in the country. Their game plan is simple: give Wolters the ball, let him try to penetrate, and put shooters in four spots on the floor around him. Those shooters are back, too, although losing Callahan will hurt. When the threes are dropping, this team is fun to watch and tough to beat. Keep an eye on them.

Stanford:

  • Last Season: 26-11, 10-8 Pac-12 (7th); Won the NIT
  • Key Losses: Josh Owens, Andrew Zimmerman
  • Key Returnees: Chasson Randle (13.8 ppg, 43.8% 3’s), Aaron Bright (11.7 ppg, 3.7 apg, 43.6% 3’s), Dwight Powell (5.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg), Anthony Brown (8.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Rosco Allen, Grant Verhoeven, Christian Sanders
  • Outlook: The Cardinal have plenty of talent on their roster. Randle is one of the country’s best kept secrets, while Brown and Bright provide some balance on the perimeter. Stanford’s front line is the difference maker for this team. Allen, Verhoeven and Powell have plenty of potential, but this team is probably still a year away from peaking.

Tennessee:

  • Last Season: 19-15, 10-6 SEC (t-2nd); Lost in the Second Round of the NIT
  • Key Losses: Cameron Tatum, Renaldo Woolridge
  • Key Returnees: Trae Golden, Jarnell Stokes, Jeronne Maymon
  • Key Newcomers: Derek Reese, Armani Moore, D’Montre Edwards
  • Outlook: Did you know that Tennessee finished second in the SEC last season? And they bring back essentially their entire roster? That includes Stokes, who had a very successful season despite enrolling in January, when he was supposed to be a high school senior. The Vols are going to be a tough, physical team that is no fun to play. On the nights they get scoring from their wings, they’ll be very difficult to get a win against.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

College Basketball AP Poll: Arizona State leapfrogs Duke to No. 3

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Arizona State leap-frogged Duke and climbed to No. 3 in the AP Poll this week after Wichita State lost to Oklahoma in Wichita.

Villanova remained at No. 1, receiving 45 first-place votes, while Michigan State was again No. 2.

The Sun Devils received five first-place votes.

Wichita State fell to No. 11 with the loss.

Here is the full top 25:

1. Villanova (45 first-place votes)
2. Michigan State (15)
3. Arizona State (5)
4. Duke
5. North Carolina
6. Miami
7. Kentucky
8. Texas A&M
9. Xavier
10. West Virginia
11. Wichita State
12. Gonzaga
13. Virginia
14. Kansas
15. TCU
16. Purdue
17. Oklahoma
18. Baylor
18. Arizona
20. Cincinnati
21. Texas Tech
21. Tennessee
23. Seton Hall
24. Florida State
25. Creighton

Team of the Week: North Carolina Tar Heels

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No. 7 North Carolina went into Knoxville on Sunday afternoon and picked off a good, scrappy No. 20 Tennessee team in front of a raucous crowd in a game where they did not even play all that well.

The win pushed the Tar Heels to 10-1 on the season, and it easily their most impressive victory to date.

There are a lot of things about this North Carolina team that I don’t like. They really only have one proven offensive weapon, depending on how you view Luke Maye. They are a program built on having a frontline that is better than their opponent’s frontline, but this year have to rely on a stretchy-four in Maye and a trio of freshmen that may or may not actually be ready to play at this level. I’m not convinced they have the three-point shooting they need, either.

But here we are, nearly six weeks into the season, and the Tar Heels have just a single loss to their name – which came against Michigan State – and just picked up a win at Tennessee. Sterling Manley and Garrison Brooks appear to be growing into the roles that they are being asked to play. Maye has looked like an all-american for the most part. They’re shooting 40 percent from three on the season. They’re defending.

And, as a result, they’re winning.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Rutgers: Saturday could not have gone much better for the Rutgers program. They erased a 13-point deficit and came back from nine points down with six minutes left as they won for the first time in four games against in-state rival and No. 15 Seton Hall. They closed the game on a 17-2 run to land the biggest win of the Steve Pikiell era, and they did it in front of a packed house at the RAC. They picked a good day to prove too their fan base that their is something to be excited about with this team.
  • Oklahoma: The Sooners made a statement on Saturday, going into Wichita and knocking off the Shockers in impressive fashion. They were up by 15 points at halftime and never were truly threatened in the second half.
  • Kentucky: For the first time since the fifth day of the season, Kentucky played a game against a team that was actually relevant, beating Virginia Tech, 93-86, in what turned out to be a shootout in Rupp Arena on Saturday afternoon. The most important part of that win wasn’t the win itself; it was the fact that Kentucky went 11-for-22 from three in the process. Their ability to make perimeter shots has, clearly, been the major question mark with this group, and while they still need to prove they can be consistent, making it clear that they are at least capable of shooting like this matters.
  • Indiana: Archie Miller landed the first marquee win of his tenure, as his Indiana team overcame a 14-point first half deficit and an eight-point deficit with just over two minutes remaining to knock off No. 18 Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic. Performances like this is why Miller was hired for this job.
  • Cincinnati: After losing two straight, capped by a loss to Florida in the Never Forget Classic last weekend, the Bearcats bounced back with a pair of solid wins this week. They handed Mississippi State their first loss of the season on Tuesday and followed that up with a win over UCLA in Pauley Pavilion on Saturday.

Player of the Week: Juwan Morgan, Indiana

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Juwan Morgan made Bankers Life Fieldhouse his home on Saturday afternoon.

Not only did he post a career-high 34 points to go along with his 11 rebounds against No. 18 Notre Dame, but he did the majority of his damage in crunch time. Morgan scored the final 12 points in regulation for Indiana, points that came as the Hoosiers erased an eight-point deficit in the final two minutes and change. Morgan then scored eight of Indiana’s 15 points in overtime, including four points in the final 11 seconds.

Indiana trailed by three with 11 seconds left on the clock when Morgan was fouled on a layup. He missed the free throw, but Indiana grabbed an offensive rebound and it wound up in Morgan’s hands, whose dunk was the game-winning basket.

There was more meaning to this win than simply beating a top 20 in-state rival.

Archie Miller is still in the process of building a program in Bloomington. He’s developing a brand, so to speak, and while his team is still going to be at a talent-deficit more often than not, this is tangible evidence that things are trending in the right direction. Miller’s Dayton programs were built around versatile and under-sized forwards and tough defense.

That’s what we saw on Saturday from Indiana.

THE ALL-‘THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM

  • TRAE YOUNG, Oklahoma: Young continued what has been a sensational season to date, scoring 21 of his 29 points and handing out seven of his 10 assists in the first half as the Sooners paid a visit to No. 3 Wichita State and left with a statement victory. The Sooners were up by 15 at halftime and threw it into cruise control in the second half.
  • UDOKA AZUBUIKE, Kansas: After a week full of criticisms for the inability of this Kansas team to find a way to get the ball into the paint, the Jayhawks finally did. Azubuike finished with 26 points on 13-for-17 shooting to go along with 10 boards and a game-saving block as the Jayhawks escaped a trip to Nebraska with a 73-72 win.
  • RAWLE ALKINS, Arizona: We finally got a glimpse of what Arizona was missing without Alkins in the lineup, as he went for 26 points on 11 field goal attempts to go along with five boards and a pair of assists. Arizona cruised to a win at New Mexico despite the fact that Allonzo Trier took just nine shots and Deandre Ayton scored just 14 points.
  • OSHAE BRISSETT, Syracuse: Brissett set a pair of career-highs in Syracuse come-from-behind win over arch-rival Georgetown on Saturday. The Orange were down by 13 points in the second half. Brissett scored 24 of his 25 points and grabbed 10 of his 14 rebounds in the second half and overtime.
  • COREY SANDERS, Rutgers: Sanders finished with 22 points – including a huge jumper with a minute left to put the Scarlet Knights up 67-63 – as Steve Pikiell and Rutgers landed their biggest win, coming from nine down with six minutes left to beat their biggest in-state rival, No. 15 Seton Hall.

College Basketball Power Rankings: Wichita State’s loss, Oklahoma’s gain, and ‘why Arizona?’

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It seemed like this was going to be a pretty straight-forward week for the Power Rankings … until Saturday happened, and five top 25 teams lost to unranked opponents.

The toughest one to figure out what to do with was Wichita State, who dropped all the way down to No. 16 from No. 3. They currently sit one spot behind Oklahoma, who beat them in Wichita on Saturday. Ranking the Shockers is a difficult thing to do at this point in the schedule, mainly because what we see on the floor from them doesn’t exactly jibe with what we assume that program to be.

They have not been themselves defensively through the first six weeks of the season. Or maybe they have and they just aren’t as good on that end of the floor as we assumed they would be. However you slice, the bottom-line is this: If Wichita State is not among the nation’s elite defensively they are not going to be in the conversation with Villanova, Michigan State and Duke as one of college basketball’s best. They just don’t have the horsepower on the other end of the floor.

The ranking that I got the most push-back on last week was putting Arizona at No. 6. They’re at No. 5 this week, up a spot after Wichita State dropped out. My reasoning is this: I am generally going to bet on talent, and rare will be the night when Arizona is not the most talented team on the floor. How many teams in the country will they play where Allonzo Trier and Deandre Ayton are not the two-best players on the floor? Maybe five? Ten, tops? And of those five-to-ten teams, I don’t think a single one of them can claim that they have two of the three best players on the floor.

And now they have Rawle Alkins back, who just went for 26 points on 11 shots at New Mexico.

Since the disaster in the Bahamas, Arizona has won five straight. They won at UNLV. They won a semi-home game against a very good Texas A&M team. They beat Alabama. They handled New Mexico fairly easily in The Pit. In a year where everyone has warts, I’m fine being the first one to say that those three games in Atlantis were just one of those weird things that happen in college basketball.

Anyway, here are this week’s Power Rankings:

1. Villanova, 10-0 (Last Week: No. 1)
2. Michigan State, 10-1 (2)
3. Miami, 9-0 (3)
4. Duke, 11-1 (5)
5. Arizona, 8-3 (6)
6. Arizona State, 10-0 (7)
7. Texas A&M, 9-1 (8)
8. North Carolina, 10-1 (12)
9. Xavier, 10-1 (9)
10. West Virginia, 9-1 (10)
11. Purdue, 11-2 (16)
12. Gonzaga, 9-2 (14)
13. Kansas, 7-2 (13)
14. Kentucky, 9-1 (17)
15. Oklahoma, 8-1 (19)
16. Wichita State, 8-2 (3)
17. Seton Hall, 9-2 (11)
18. Virginia, 9-1 (18)
19. TCU, 10-0 (25)
20. Notre Dame, 8-3 (15)
21. Cincinnati, 9-2 (23)
22. Tennessee, 7-2 (20)
23. Texas Tech, 9-1 (24)
24. Baylor, 9-2 (NR)
25. Arkansas, 8-2 (NR)

NEW ADDITIONS: 24. Baylor, 25. Arkansas

DROPPED OUT: 21. Florida State, 22. Florida

No. 5 Arizona State rallies to beat Vanderbilt 76-64

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona State came out flat, missing shots, tossing balls into the stands, allowing open 3-pointers.

The No. 5 team in the country? The Sun Devils looked more like they should be unranked, not among college basketball’s elite.

In a matter of minutes, it all changed. Arizona State forced turnovers, got out on the break and dropped in 3-pointers to keep the crowd on its feet.

Once the Sun Devils get rolling like this, there’s no stopping them.

Tra Holder scored 25 points, Shannon Evans II added 15 and No. 5 Arizona State overcame a dismal start with a massive halftime-spanning run to beat Vanderbilt 76-64 on Sunday. The Sun Devils improved to 10-0 for the first time in their history.

“We had the bursts and it’s great we took the game from a one-two possession game and all of a sudden it’s mid-doubles,” Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said. “It happens fast.”

Arizona State built a national buzz with last week’s road win over Kansas and its highest ranking in 36 years.

The Sun Devils looked nothing like the team that won at Allen Fieldhouse early against Vanderbilt (3-7), falling into a 13-0 hole. Once one of the nation’s most explosive teams finally came to life, Vanderbilt had no chance.

Sharp at both ends, Arizona State used a 26-3 run spanning halftime to turn what started out as an embarrassing performance into a runaway that had Wells Fargo Arena the loudest it’s been all season.

Mickey Mitchell provided the Sun Devils a spark off the bench, playing solid defense while grabbing 13 rebounds. Arizona State hit 14 of 28 shots in the second half to remain one of the nation’s four undefeated teams.

Saben Lee had 24 points to lead Vanderbilt, which shot 4 of 30 from 3-point range.

“We’re a small team, like ASU, and we have to make 3s,” Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew said.

Following last Sunday’s 10-point win over then-No. 2 Kansas, the Sun Devils moved up to No. 5, their highest ranking since being No. 3 in 1980-81, and received five first-place votes in the Top 25, a program first.

Suddenly, they were a trendy pick to make a Final Four. Hurley was being touted as a national coach of the year candidate by the coach of Arizona State’s biggest rival. A buzz spread across the Valley of the Sun and beyond about the program being touted as “Guard U.”

The spotlight appeared to be too bright for the Sun Devils early against Vanderbilt.

Disjointed and struggling with double teams in the post, Arizona State had five turnovers in the game’s opening five minutes. The Sun Devils didn’t score until Romello White’s layup at 14:49, and the fans who were rowdy long before tipoff groaned with each miscue.

“We were knocking down shots and they were missing at the beginning,” Lee said.

Then Arizona State got back to playing the way it had to open the season.

The Sun Devils harassed the Commodores into difficult shots late in the shot clock and jumped into passing lanes to create turnovers. Shots missed earlier at the rim started going in, and they made a couple of late 3-pointers after missing their first nine.

Holder had one of those 3s, dropping a deep one at the halftime buzzer that put Arizona State up 30-29.

The Sun Devils kept the engine revving in the second half, scoring 12 straight points to push the lead to 49-31. Vanderbilt made one push, but got no closer than 12.

“We were just a little rusty. We had a long week off,” said Holder, who made all 11 of his free throws. “But we got back to our groove.”

BIG PICTURE

Vanderbilt showed it can play with highly-ranked teams in the opening 10 minutes. The final 30 showed the Commodores still have plenty of work to do before the SEC season starts.

Arizona State looked like the No. 5 team in the country after its shaky start and could move up in Monday’s poll after No. 3 Wichita State lost.

LEE’S HOMECOMING

Lee grew up in Arizona and played at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, so Sunday’s game was a homecoming of sorts.

The freshman guard is Vanderbilt’s assist leader with 34 and made 9 of 14 shots to set a career high in points.

“It was pretty weird, knowing that I watched a lot of games here and now I’m going against them,” Lee said. “But it was a good experience..”

UP NEXT

Vanderbilt hosts Houston Baptist on Wednesday.

Arizona State hosts Longwood on Tuesday.