Week in Review: Jared Cunningham, St. Louis honored

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Player of the Week: Jared Cunningham, Oregon State

There are quite a few impressive performances from the past week, but its impossible to look past what Cunningham did this past week. After a ho-hum, 17 point performance in 17 minutes against West Alabama, a non-Division I school, Cunningham exploded. He finished with 35 points against Hofstra and had 37 points in the Beaver’s overtime win over Texas, arguably the biggest win in the Craig Robinson era. Cunningham shot 55.9% from the floor and got to the foul line a ridiculous 40 times, hitting 80% from the charity stripe. He also added 14 rebounds, five assists and three steals.

More importantly, however, is the fact that Cunningham seems to be embracing the role of closer for Oregon State. Against Texas, he was able to get to the paint on draw a foul at will, using his ridiculous quickness and athleticism to get by his defender. He also made an huge steal with 30 seconds left that allowed Oregon State a chance to tie the game in regulation. With Cunningham playing close to this level — expecting him to score in the mid-30’s every night is ludicrous — Oregon State has enough talent on their roster to be considered a sleeper in a wide open Pac-12.

The All-They-Were-Good-Too Team

– G: Scott Machado, Iona: Machado was sensational in the Gaels’ three games this week, averaging 15.5 ppg and 13.0 apg while committing just six turnovers. That’s a 6.5:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He also added 5.0 rpg. Momo Jones and Mike Glover will get the headlines, but Machado is that team’s MVP.

– G: J’Covan Brown, Texas: There haven’t been many players more impressive than Brown this season. In two games this week, he averaged 30.0 ppg, 7.5 apg, 6.0 rpg and shot 50% from the floor and 10-18 from three. The Longhorns were just 1-1 on the week, losing in OT to Oregon State.

– F: Tony Mitchell, Alabama: Mitchell was the best player for arguably the most impressive team of the week. He averaged 17.3 ppg and 9.5 rpg while adding 10 assists, five blocks, four steals, shot 50% from three and threw down too many thunderous dunks to count in a 4-0 week for the Crimson Tide.

– F: Doug McDermott, Creighton: The Bluejays have certainly lived up to expectations early in the season, and McDermott is the biggest reason why. He had 27 points and seven boards in a win at UAB and followed that up with 25 points and nine boards in a 23 point win against Iowa. He shot 63.6% from the floor and 5-7 from deep.

– F: Travis McKie, Wake Forest: Wake Forest is going to struggle this year, but McKie is without a doubt a bright spot. In two games this week, he averaged 24.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg and shot 68% from the floor and 5-7 from three.

– Bench: Tyreek Duren, La Salle (23.5 ppg, 4.0 apg); Robbie Hummel, Purdue (20.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg); Kevin Jones, West Virginia (22.0 ppg, 16.5 rpg); Ramone Moore, Temple (19.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.0 apg); Mike Moser, UNLV (16.7 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 4.0 apg, 4.3 spg); Shabazz Napier, UConn (22 points. 12 assists, 13 boards vs. Coppin State); Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga (33 points, 9-13 threes, six assists vs. Washington State); Gerardo Suero, Albany (30.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.5 apg); Casper Ware, Long Beach State (28 points, six assists in win over Pitt)

Team of the Week: St. Louis Billikens

The Billikens had the single most impressive performance of the week on Sunday. With Washington visiting, St. Louis looked like the high-major program, getting up by 20 midway through the first half and pushing that lead as high as 30 in the second half. The Huskies battled back to make the final respectable — 77-64 — but the damage had already been done. Brian Conklin had 25 points and Kwamain Mitchell added 18 points in a dominating victory.

The win pushed St. Louis to 3-0 on the season, but it did more than simply put a win in the record books. Don’t, for a second, think that teams like Xavier and Temple didn’t take notice of that score. The Musketeers and the Owls were considered by almost everyone to have a firm stranglehold on the top two spots in the Atlantic 10, but if St. Louis continues to play at this level, they are going to force their way into that conversation. This is a balanced team with more experience on their roster than you think; most of the young guys on the roster have already had significant big game experience. They defend well, they knock down their open shots and they have a legitimate star in Mitchell. I think its safe to say we’ve identified the sleeper in the league.

Teams Deserving a Shoutout:

Alabama: The Crimson Tide won the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in convincing fashion, pulling away from both Wichita State and Purdue late to take home the title. Alabama also beat Oakland and Maryland, and they did it with a stout defense. They press, make it difficult to get the ball over half court and force tough shots if you do break their press. Tony Mitchell and JaMychal Green form a mammoth front line, while Trevor Releford anchors a young but talented back court.

Creighton: The Bluejays improved to 4-0 this week thanks to a 10 point road with against UAB and a 23 point home win over Iowa. Doug McDermott has been playing like an all-american, but its truly been a team effort for the Bluejays; ten players averaged double figure minutes and seven are scoring between 6.0 and 10.3 ppg.

Iona: There is little doubt that, after their performance this weekend, the Gaels are going to immediately become the favorite to win the MAAC. Scott Machado looked like the second coming John Stockton at the point while five other Gaels averaged double figures. The Gaels lost by one to Purdue, but they responded by beating Western Michigan and drilling Maryland by 26.

Kent State: The Golden Flashes burst onto the national scene by going into Morgantown and knocking off West Virginia in their season opener, which just so happened to come on national television during the Tip-Off Marathon. There was no letdown from that win, either, as KSU beat Alcorn State their next time out.

Long Beach State: The 49ers went into the Peterson Events Center and beat down Pitt, keeping the Panthers from ever getting closer than six points during the second half. But they followed that up with an overtime loss to a decent (but probably better than you think) San Diego State team. An overtime road loss at a very, very difficult place to play shouldn’t put a damper on the impressive performance LBSU had on Tuesday.

Marquette: The Golden Eagles have put together some impressive wins early in the season, but on Sunday they provided a bit of legitimacy to their play by pasting Ole Miss by 30. Their point totals so far this season? 91, 99, 95 and 96. Darius Johnson-Odom is averaging 20.0 ppg, Jae Crowder 18.3 ppg and Vander Blue 15.8 ppg.

Memphis: The Tigers have played one game this season, but it was a resounding win over a tough Belmont team. Memphis beat them 97-81, but it never seemed like Belmont was going to have a chance to get back into the game. The Tigers are impressively athletic, but we knew that. But will they be able to turn that athleticism into success on the basketball court. A one word over-reaction to a small sample size’s worth of data: yes.

Mississippi State: Renardo Sidney is never going to be the star that we all want him to be and know he can be, but the Bulldogs don’t need Sidney on the roster to be a tournament team this season. Arnett Moultrie is capable of being a scorer and rebounder in the paint, Dee Bost is a star at the point and Mississippi State’s supporting cast is better than anyone gave them credit for. They knocked off two top 20 teams this week en route to the Coaches vs. Cancer title.

Nebraska: Don’t look now, but the Cornhuskers are actually 3-0 on the season. They have a double overtime win over USC (which looks worse now that the Trojans have lost to Cal Poly 42-36) and knocked off Rhode Island by 20. Its not much, I’ll admit it, but with the way Nebraska plays defense and the fact that they finally have a scorer at the point in Bo Spencer, who knows. Maybe this team puts it together enough to win some games in the Big 12 this year.

New Mexico State: The Aggies picked up a big win early in the season as they knocked off New Mexico at the Pit and followed that up with a 16 point win over rebuilding UTEP. Wendell McKines looks like he is healthy. He had 14 points and nine boards and held Drew Gordon without a field goal before going for 23 points and 13 boards against UTEP.

Northwestern: We need to keep the Wildcat’s win in the Charleston Classic in perspective; they didn’t beat a tournament team en route to the title. But there is something to be said for winning three straight games in that manner. John Shurna averaged 23.7 ppg for the week, including a 37 point performance in a comeback win over LSU, and Drew Crawford chipped in with an average of 24.0 ppg.

Oregon State: Are the Beavers all of a sudden a contender in the Pac-12? Its too early to say right now, but if they knock off Vanderbilt in the title game of the Legend’s Classic, its a fair question to ask. Its not just Jared Cunningham, either. Devon Collier, Joe Burton and Eric Morehouse provide some size and athleticism inside while Ahmad Starks, Angus Brandt and Roberto Nelson give Craig Robinson some perimeter pop. This group plays hard and plays together. It will be fun to see what they can piece together.

Presbyterian: Presbyterian has one of the more uplifting stories to follow this year: after having their hearts broken when their class of redshirt seniors found out they wouldn’t be allowed to participate in the postseason this season, they all remained at the school for their last year of eligibility. It paid off in a small way on Saturday, as the Blue Hose knocked off Cincinnati.

Providence: Might Ed Cooley have this Friar team competitive this season? They are now 3-0 on the year, including an 80-72 win at Fairfield this week. It will be interesting to watch, as Cooley is a defensive-minded head coach, but he has a team that is better suited to getting out and running the floor.

St. Joseph’s: Next year was supposed to be the year for the Hawks, but St. Joseph’s has been pretty impressive a few weeks into the season. They are 3-1 on the year, and while they did lost to Seton Hall, they’ve also knocked off Georgia Tech by 13 and beat a good Tulsa team on Sunday. Carl Jones and Langston Galloway may end up forming one of the most potent back courts in the Atlantic 10 this season.

Weber State: We said it in the preseason, but it looks like it may be coming true: Weber State is the best team in the state of Utah. They knocked off Utah State on Tuesday, getting 28 points from Scott Bamforth. But Bamforth isn’t even the Wildcat’s best perimeter player; Damian Lillard is. He showed it on Saturday, dropping 27 at UC Irvine.

Wisconsin: The Badgers are outscoring their opponents 222-105 this season. Granted, they haven’t played anyone yet, but 105 points in three games? Is Wisconsin going to be a lockdown defensive team this year? More impressive? They are doing it while Jordan Taylor is doing nothing but facilitating and allowing his teammates to get comfortable in scoring roles.

Five Thoughts:

– The CAA is way down this year: There is no doubt that this is going to be a one-bid league this season. George Mason is playing without Andre Cornelius and has a couple of injuries, but that’s not an excuse for a team that was supposed to be in the top 40 losing to both Florida International and Florida Atlantic. Drexel’s start may be even more disappointing. After starting out the year with an 18 point win over Rider, the Dragons lost to Norfolk State before mustering just 35 points in a loss to Virginia. VCU struggled with both St. Francis (PA) and Western Kentucky while losing to Seton Hall and Georgia Tech. Delaware lost at Radford and James Madison lost at La Salle. The best moment of the season was without a doubt a 10 point loss that Old Dominion suffered against a worn-down Kentucky team. That’s the same Old Dominion that was dropped by 17 against Northern Iowa.

The good news? There is clearly no favorite to win this conference, meaning that the CAA is going to be a lot of fun to follow this year.

– The Pac-12 is just as disappointing: Does anyone want to win this conference? We’ll start at the top. Arizona is struggling to live up to the hype they had coming into the season as they battle youth at the two most important positions — the post and the point. This group will be better if Josiah Turner gets his head on straight, but who knows when, if ever, that happens. Washington had some defensive issues in a few of their early non-conference games, and those issues were exposed by St. Louis on Sunday. The Huskies were absolutely drubbed by the Billikens, getting down by as much as 30 on the road. Oregon had their star freshman Jabari Brown leave the team, while Ben Howland struggles to deal with a team that has a) a WAC-level back court, b) a center that can’t get in shape and c) a star that doesn’t feel the need to show up to anything on time.

Cal has become the favorite in the league, and for good reason. Their top three — Jorge Gutierrez, Allen Crabbe and Harper Kamp — have been as good as anyone, and the Bears have been drilling team this year. The sleeper? Oregon State. The Beavers have a potential Pac-12 Player of the Year in Jared Cunningham and enough talent around him to make a run in a league that apparently no one has any desire to win.

– A battle in the Atlantic 10: Might the Atlantic 10 be better than the Pac-12? Let’s think about this. Xavier and Cal are a wash, as its difficult to say that either is more than a top 20 team right now. While Temple lost to Purdue, they managed to knock off Wichita State is overtime and have one of the best perimeter attacks in the country. I’ll give them the nod over Oregon State as of today. St. Louis just beat Washington, meaning that they can probably be considered better than any team that claims the No. 3 spot out west.

But its more than the success that the top of the league is having. La Salle knocked off a decent James Madison team a few days after taking Villanova to overtime. St. Joe’s, as we mentioned, has gotten off to a very good start to the season. Duquesne nearly knocked off Arizona and followed that up with a win over Akron. UMass is 3-0 on the season. None of those teams had the preseason hype that St. Bonaventure, George Washington or Richmond did.

– Cincinnati got what they deserved?: The Bearcats dug themselves a bit of a hole with their non-conference schedule. Its one of the worst in the country, and it came to bite them on Saturday. Cincinnati blew a 15 point second half lead, allowing a Presbyterian that is so new to Division I that they aren’t allowed into the postseason yet. The Bearcats are — well, should be — good enough that they won’t have to be on the bubble this year, but if they lose to Xavier, their only real non-conference opponent (unless you count Georgia or Oklahoma as real), this group is going to see their tournament seed take a big hit.

– How long does Ben Howland have at UCLA?: Let’s forget the fact that, for the fourth straight season, the Bruins look like they are a long, long way from the kind of program that is expected in Westwood. Let’s forget that he’s lost control of this team. Let’s ignore the empty home games. Think about this: who would you rather have, any five that UCLA can put on the floor right now, or a starting five of Matt Carlino, Kendell Williams, Chace Stanback, Mike Moser and Drew Gordon. The latter group are all players that have either played for and transferred out of UCLA, or — in Williams’ case — committed too UCLA and had his scholarship offer pulled. I’ll take the second group in a heartbeat.

Games of the Week: Oklahoma State 90, UT-San Antonio 85 OT

This was an insane finish to regulation. UTSA, who advanced to the second round of the Preseason NIT on a 40 foot running prayer last night, used a 21-8 run last in the second half to open up a 71-60 lead with just 2:12 left. But Oklahoma State was able to crawl their way back into it as they forced some turnovers and got to the foul line. With 15 seconds left and down by six, freshman reserve Cesar Guerrero went the length of the court and scored on an and-one. After hitting the free throw, Guerrero stole the inbounds pass and buried a three to force OT:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK1CjwXoaj8&w=680&h=414%5D

Guerrero would scored eight points in the extra period, including back-to-back threes in the final two minutes to erase a four point deficit. On the game, he had 29 points while coming off the bench. Making the finish even crazier is that UTSA was only able to advance to this game when Sei Paye hit a running 25-footer at the buzzer to knock off Oral Roberts, a shot that has miraculously never had video make it online.

Purdue 91, Iona 90: Defense may win championships, but offense puts fans in the seats and eyeballs on the TV screens. And in this game, there was no defense played whatsoever. Iona threw every last punch that they had at the Boilermakers, taking a 90-88 lead with 33 seconds left when Momo Jones hit a 12 foot pull-up in transition. But at the other end, Robbie Hummel buried a three to give Purdue the lead back. After Jones turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, Purdue missed two free throws, but an Iona prayer from half court at the buzzer bounced off the back board.

Belmont 87, Middle Tennessee State 84 2OT: The Bruins nearly blew a game that they twice had taken complete control of. They were up 15 midway through the first half and eight with just 3:50 left in the game, but MTSU had a run in them. After taking a one point lead with just under a minute left, Ian Clark answered with a three for Belmont. But two free throws from Marcos Knight and a missed jumper at the buzzer from JJ Mann sent this game into overtime. MTSU took a five point lead in the first OT, but Kerron Johnson answered with seven points in the span of 1:30 to take the lead back. Laron Dendy forced OT with two more free throws, but Mann scored six unanswered midway through the second overtime to take firm control of the game.

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

No. 18 Gonzaga withstands scare from Kent St for 73-66 win

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
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SPOKANE, Wash. – Drew Timme scored 29 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, and No. 18 Gonzaga closed the game on an 11-0 run to rally past Kent State 73-66 on Monday night.

The nation’s longest home win streak was extended to 69 games but not without a major scare by the Golden Flashes. Kent State led 66-62 with 3:38 left after Miryne Thomas’ 3-pointer, but the Bulldogs tightened on the defensive end and got a handful of big plays offensively to hold off the Flashes.

Julian Strawther added 14 points, including a 3-pointer with 3:19 left that started Gonzaga’s decisive run. Timme’s spinning basket in the lane with 2:29 left gave Gonzaga (6-3) the lead, and he added a key defensive play blocking Sincere Carry’s layup attempt at the other end.

Timme was fouled and split free throws with 1:55 left, but Malachi Smith grabbed the offensive rebound and his three-point play gave the Bulldogs a 71-66 lead. It was Smith’s first basket of the game.

“(Timme) was heroic. He wasn’t really looking for the ball much early and wasn’t demanding it . he was splitting the defense and scoring in a variety of ways like he does,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “To end up with 17 boards is monster and we needed every one of them.”

Nolan Hickman added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs, who held a 43-30 advantage on the boards. It was just the second home game inside the McCarthey Athletic Center for Gonzaga and first since Nov. 7 against North Florida.

Thomas led Kent State (6-3) with 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Malique Jacobs added 11 points and Carry, who was averaging 18.5 points per game, was held to 10.

“I think in the second half we moved the ball well, we got some turnovers, got some easy shots and was able to give us a lead playing a great team and great program. . Unfortunately we couldn’t finish it off. Give them a lot of credit for that,” Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff said.

Kent State nearly pulled off a surprising upset on the road for the second time in two weeks but couldn’t withstand Gonzaga’s late surge. Kent State led No. 1 Houston by one-point with less than a minute to go nine days ago in Houston but couldn’t make the plays in the closing seconds to finish off the upset in a 49-44 loss.

“Coach Few has told us all week that this is a great team that could go to the Sweet 16. . We knew what they were capable of and we weren’t taking them lightly and we knew it was going to be a dog fight,” Strawther said.

JERSEY RETIRED

Kelly Olynyk’s No. 13 jersey number was retired in front of a sellout crowd. Olynyk played for Gonzaga from 2009-13 and led the Bulldogs to its first ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament while earning first team AP All-American status as a senior.

“You’re almost speechless,” Olynyk said. “It’s just such an honor, especially with the names that you’re up beside. They’re unbelievable players.”

BIG PICTURE

Kent State: The Golden Flashes lost their third game of the season and their second against a ranked opponent. Kent State has three non-conference games left before beginning Mid-American Conference play at home against Western Michigan.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs bounced back from a one-point loss to No. 12 Baylor last week with the win. All three of Gonzaga’s losses are to teams ranked in the top 12 of the AP Top 25.

UP NEXT:

Kent State: At Cleveland State on Saturday.

Gonzaga: Host in-state rival Washington on Friday.

Preseason No. 1 North Carolina drops out of AP Top 25

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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Houston and Texas remain firmly entrenched atop The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll, while preseason No. 1 North Carolina has dropped out entirely after a fourth straight loss.

The Cougars earned 37 of 62 first-place votes in the poll, extending the program’s first stay at No. 1 since the “Phi Slama Jama” days in the 1980s for another week. Houston (8-0) beat Norfolk State and Saint Mary’s in its first week at the top.

“I don’t dwell on it,” coach Kelvin Sampson said last week about the No. 1 ranking. “We’re not running around here pushing our chest out, thinking we’re something we’re not.”

The Longhorns received 14 first-place votes. No. 3 Virginia got three votes and No. 4 Purdue got the remaining eight.

Connecticut (9-0) climbed to No. 5, the program’s highest ranking since early in the 2011-12 season. Other than the top five, there are three other teams in the AP Top 25 that are undefeated (No. 11 Auburn, No. 13 Maryland and No. 23 Mississippi State).

SWIFT FALL

North Carolina is only the sixth team to go from preseason No. 1 to unranked since at least the 1961-62 season, most recently with Michigan State during the 2019-20 season.

Of that group, the Tar Heels had the swiftest exit from the poll to start the season (four weeks) excet for UCLA in 1965-66. The Bruins fell out of the poll after just three weeks back when only 10 teams were ranked.

Ranked No. 18 last week, the Tar Heels (5-4) l ost their fourth straight game over the weekend at Virginia Tech while playing without banged-up big man Armando Bacot. They appeared on a single ballot this week from the 62-member panel that votes on the AP Top 25.

“I told them also that I’m not panicked, I’m not any of that,” coach Hubert Davis said afterward. “I’m convinced we’re going to be a great basketball team by the end of the season.”

Last year’s Tar Heels were on the bubble to even make the NCAA Tournament well into February in Davis’ debut season. They went on a final-month tear all the way to the NCAA championship game before falling to Kansas.

THE TOP TIER

Kansas climbed to No. 6, followed by three Southeastern Conference teams in Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas. For the Volunteers and Crimson Tide, it marked their first appearances inside the top 10 this year. Arizona rounded out the top 10, falling six spots after a loss at Utah.

RISING

No. 13 Maryland had the biggest jump of the week, vaulting nine spots after wins against Louisville and Illinois last week in the Terrapins’ first year under Kevin Willard. That marks the program’s highest ranking since pushing into the top 10 during the 2019-20 season.

Tennessee was next up with a six-spot climb, while No. 11 Auburn rose four spots.

In all, 13 teams climbed from last week.

SLIDING

Creighton had the week’s biggest fall, tumbling 14 spots to No. 21 after losing at Texas and at home to Nebraska last week.

No. 12 Baylor fell six spots after a loss to Marquette, though the Bears responded by beating Gonzaga on Friday in a rematch of the 2021 NCAA championship game won by Baylor.

The Zags, now No. 18, fell four spots to their lowest ranking since checking in at No. 20 on Christmas Day in 2017.

In all, four teams slid from last week.

STATUS QUO

Beyond the top three, No. 25 Ohio State remained in place after a tough loss at No. 15 Duke last week.

WELCOME

No. 23 Mississippi State and No. 24 TCU were the new additions to the poll, with the Bulldogs (8-0) earning their first AP Top 25 ranking under first-year coach Chris Jans since January 2019.

The Horned Frogs were ranked 14th and 15th, respectively, in the first two polls before falling out for two weeks.

FAREWELL (FOR NOW)

In addition to UNC, Michigan State (No. 20) fell out after losses to Notre Dame and Northwestern.

CONFERENCE WATCH

The SEC led the way with six ranked teams, including No. 16 Kentucky. The Big Ten and Big 12 each had five ranked teams, followed by two each for the Atlantic Coast, Pac-12 and Big East conferences.

The American Athletic, West Coast and Mountain West conferences each had one.

Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer tops women’s AP Top 25 appearances

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer stands atop The Associated Press women’s basketball poll with the most appearances all time, breaking a tie with the late Pat Summitt.

VanDerveer’s Cardinal remained No. 2 behind top-ranked South Carolina, giving her 619 weeks with one of her teams in the AP Top 25: 592 weeks with Stanford and 27 with Ohio State when she was in charge of that program. Summitt’s 618 weeks in the poll all came with Tennessee.

The Hall of Fame coach downplayed the achievement.

“Fortunate to be here for 36 years. We have great players and have been successful,” VanDerveer said. “I don’t pay attention to (records). People bring it up and I’m like `OK, great.”‘

Louisville fell out of the Top 25 for the first time since 2016, a span of 127 weeks. That was the fifth longest active streak. The Cardinals (5-4) started the season ranked seventh and have struggled to find consistency this year, dropping their last two games to Ohio State and Middle Tennessee.

They are the third preseason top 10 team to fall out of the poll, joining Texas (this week) and Tennessee (last week). Before this year, only 10 preseason top 10 teams had fallen out of the rankings at some point during the year since the AP Top 25 became a writers’ poll in 1994-95.

Even more rare has been a preseason top five school dropping out. Only five teams had done that prior to this year and none before January. Tennessee was the last to do it, starting the 2015-16 season at No. 4 before falling out of the rankings Feb. 22.

Now Texas and Tennessee are both out before the New Year.

“Two factors are at play here. One of them is more parity with more good teams,” said Rebecca Lobo, the former UConn star, ESPN analyst and Top 25 voter. “The other factor at play is the transfer portal. I think those three teams all have multiple players who start who weren’t in their program a year ago. It’s a reflection that you can’t just assemble teams and right away expect them to be good. I think all those teams will in the poll by the end of the season.”

Ohio State moved up to No. 3 after, the Buckeyes’ best ranking since Nov. 30, 2009, when they also were third. Indiana and Notre Dame round out the top five.

UConn fell three spots to sixth with Virginia Tech seventh, the best ranking ever for the school. North Carolina and N.C. State were tied in eighth and Iowa State is 10th.

RANKED RAZORBACKS

Arkansas (10-0) vaulted into the poll at No. 21. The Razorbacks have a difficult month ahead with games against No. 18 Creighton and a tournament in San Diego that has Oregon, South Florida and Ohio State.

“I do think we know a lot about our team,” Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said.

He was also happy his team made the poll as every sports team on campus that has played this year has been ranked, including football, men’s basketball, soccer and cross country.

“We didn’t want to be the team that stops that streak,” he said..

FALLING LOUISVILLE

The Cardinals had been ranked ever week since Jan. 11, 2016. That was the same season they started the year at No. 8 before falling out on Nov. 30, the earliest a top 10 team had fallen out of the poll until last week. Things got better for Louisville as the Cardinals finished that regular season 24-6 and went 15-1 in the ACC.

HISTORIC WEEK

With Louisville, Texas and Tennessee all out of the Top 25, it marks only the second time in the poll’s history that none of those three teams were ranked. The only other time was the first-ever poll in 1976.

COMING AND GOING

Oklahoma and Kansas State also returned to the Top 25 this week, coming in at No. 23 and No. 24. Marquette dropped out after losing to Seton Hall.

Northwestern beats No. 20 Michigan State in Big Ten opener

Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK
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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Boo Buie scored 20 points and Northwestern beat No. 20 Michigan State 70-63 on Sunday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

Chase Audige added 15 points and Ty Berry had 13 for Northwestern (6-2), which ended a two-game losing streak.

“Needless to say, this was a huge win for us,” coach Chris Collins said. “Coming off our performance in the ACC-Big Ten challenge, where we lost badly on our home floor (to Pittsburgh), I was really pleased with our resolve the past couple days.”

Mady Sossoko and A.J. Hoggard each had 12 points for Michigan State (5-4) and Joey Hauser added 10. The Spartans have lost two in a row, falling to Notre Dame earlier in the week.

Hoggard cut Northwestern’s lead to 64-63 with 46 seconds left. After a timeout, Buie scored on a layup with 23 seconds left.

“We got out-toughed,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.

Northwestern took the lead late in the first half on a layup by Buie and never relinquished it, leading by as many as nine points.

“We put (the loss to Pittsburgh) under the rug,” Buie said. “We turned the page, just like we do with any win or loss. The season is so long you can’t get caught up on one single game. Just like tonight. We’re super happy with the win, but after tonight it’s over. You can’t dwell on things.”

The Wildcats went 21 of 24 on free throws, while the Spartans were 9 of 12.

“I was concerned about a knockout punch early,” Collins said. ‘I knew they would be revved up after the Notre Dame loss. They hit us early and got a seven-point lead, and then we settled down.”

UP NEXT

Northwestern: Hosts Prairie View A&M on Dec. 11

Michigan State: At Penn State on Wednesday night.

Miles, No. 7 Notre Dame women beat No. 3 UConn; Fudd hurt

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Olivia Miles had 21 points and eight rebounds for No. 7 Notre Dame, and UConn star Azzi Fudd suffered a knee injury in a collision with a teammate, as the Fighting Irish handed the third-ranked Huskies their first loss of the season, 74-60 on Sunday.

“I think she’ll be all right,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said afterwards of Fudd, who went into the day averaging 24.0 points, but finished scoreless on two shots over 13 minutes.

Fudd exited in the final minute of the first quarter after teammate Aaliyah Edwards fell on her. She returned midway through the second period to play four hobbled minutes, but sat the rest of the way as a precaution, according to Auriemma.

Maddy Westbeld had a season-high 17 points and nine rebounds for Notre Dame (7-1), which bounced back from a 74-72 loss to No. 20 Maryland three days earlier.

“I think Thursday’s loss really fueled us today,” Irish coach Niele Ivey said. “We learned a lot from that game. We have incredible scorers on our team, a lot of balance offensively, but it’s our defense that’s gonna win games, so that was our focus the last 48 hours. (The players) took the challenge and came out and played with heart and defensive intensity. I feel like if we can play that way, we can beat anyone in the country.”

Notre Dame shot 56% from the field while limiting the Huskies to 37%.

“We played very badly (Thursday), but we were still two points away,” Miles said, “so it’s kind of scary what we can do when we play really well.”

Led by Miles, the Irish roared to a 41-24 lead by intermission, outscoring the Huskies 30-11 over the final 11 minutes of the first half.

Miles scored 13 of Notre Dame’s 18 first-quarter points, going 6 of 7 from the field. Westbeld provided her scoring punch after averaging 5.2 points over her previous five outings.

Lou Lopez Senechal led UConn (6-1) with 21 points. Edwards added 14.

“We didn’t win the rebound battle and that hurt us,” said Auriemma, whose club was outboarded 39-26 and outscored in the paint. 46-16. “We just didn’t have enough scoring on the court and enough people playing at a real high level to get enough buckets when we needed them.”

The Huskies got as close at 49-44 at the 3:44 mark of the third quarter, but the Irish stretched their lead back to as high as 70-53 at the midway mark of the fourth period.

Notre Dame ended a seven-game head-to-head losing streak against UConn in regular-season play, prevailing for the first time since a triple-overtime decision in March 2013.

BIG PICTURE

UConn: The Huskies faced a top-10 opponent for the fourth time this season, but this one was their first true road game. If Fudd’s injury doesn’t turn out to be serious, UConn ought to still have a chance to do what it’s done for decades: craft a resume that will make them a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Notre Dame: The Irish, coming back from that loss at the buzzer to Maryland, showed that Thursday’s outcome may just be a blip on their promising season. Notre Dame matched last season’s win over No. 3 North Carolina State for the highest-ranked team it has beaten in its third year under Ivey.

UP NEXT

UConn: The Huskies host Princeton on Thursday before visiting Maryland next Sunday.

Notre Dame: The Irish have a couple apparent mismatches coming up as they visit Lafayette (2-7) on Thursday and host Merrimack (1-6) on Saturday.