Purdue back at No. 1 in AP Top 25, Alabama right behind

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
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Purdue is back at No. 1 in the AP Top 25. Alabama is right behind the Boilermakers.

Purdue returned to the top spot in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll, moving up two spots after Temple knocked off No. 1 Houston over the weekend. The Boilermakers received 39 first-place votes from a 62-person media panel after a volatile week where just two teams kept the same spot from a week ago.

Alabama climbed two spots to No. 2, picking up 23 first-place votes for its highest ranking since reaching No. 1 in 2002-03. Houston, Tennessee and Kansas State round out the top five.

Purdue (19-1, 8-1 Big Ten) had dropped to No. 3 after four weeks at No. 1 following a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 3, but has since won six straight.

Alabama (17-2, 7-0 SEC) has made a steady climb since being ranked No. 20 in the preseason AP Top 25, moving into the top 10 in early December. The Crimson Tide had lopsided wins over Missouri and Vanderbilt after Darius Miles was dismissed from the team as he faces a murder charge in a fatal shooting near campus.

Alabama coach Nate Oats reached out to Ray Lewis before the Crimson Tide played Vanderbilt last week, sharing a Bible verse suggested by the Hall of Fame linebacker. Alabama ended up beating Vandy by 12 and rolled over Missouri by 21.

“I did see some guys break down postgame,” Oats said. “I think they’ve been bottling some stuff up. We’ve got a job to do. We’ve got to get to the game. We got to the game and took care of business, and then it’s almost like a big relief. The game’s over, and we can let out a sigh of relief.”

COUGARS FALL

Houston moved atop the AP Top 25 for the first time since the Phi Slama Jama of the 1980s earlier this season before a loss to Alabama dropped it back to No. 5.

The Cougars returned to No. 1 on Jan. 9, but their run ended after two weeks with Sunday’s 56-55 loss to Temple. The win was the Owls’ first over a No. 1 team since 2000.

BEATING KU

Kansas State moved up eight spots to No. 5 after outlasting rival Kansas 83-82 at Bramlage Coliseum last week. It’s the Wildcats’ highest ranking since reaching No. 3 in 2010-11.

TCU gave Kansas consecutive losses in the state for the first time since 1989 with a 23-point beatdown at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday. It was one of Bill Self’s worst losses in 20 years as Kansas’ coach and ended the Jayhawks’ 16-game home winning streak.

The No. 14 Horned Frogs moved up three spots in this week’s poll after the win. Kansas, the defending national champion, dropped seven spots to No. 9.

BIG TEN BUMMER

While Purdue has remained near the top of the poll most of the season, the rest of the Big Ten has fallen off. With Rutgers dropping out, the Big Ten has just one AP Top 25 team for the first time since the Feb. 16, 2004, when No. 12 Wisconsin was the conference’s lone ranked team, according to Sportradar.

RISING/FALLING

Kansas State had the week’s biggest jump, followed by No. 4 Tennessee and No. 6 Arizona each climbing five spots. No. 21 Baylor moved up four spots with wins over Texas Tech and Oklahoma.

Gonzaga had the biggest fall, losing eight places to No. 14 after Loyola Marymount ended the Zags’ 75-game home winning streak on Thursday. No. 13 Xavier dropped five spots after a one-point road loss to DePaul.

IN AND OUT

No. 22 Saint Mary’s is ranked for the first time this season after rolling over Pepperdine and Santa Clara last week. No. 25 New Mexico is back in the poll after beating San Jose State and outlasting Boise State in overtime.

A three-point loss to Michigan State knocked Rutgers out of the poll from No. 23. Arkansas dropped out from No. 25 following a loss to Missouri.

No. 17 TCU snaps No. 11 Kansas State’s 9-game winning streak

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Emanuel Miller scored 23 points, Eddie Lampkin Jr. had a season-high 17 with several key inside baskets and No. 17 TCU beat 11th-ranked Kansas State 82-68 on Saturday, ending the Wildcats’ nine-game winning streak.

Mike Miles Jr. had a double-double with 13 points with 11 assists for the Horned Frogs (14-3, 3-2 Big 12), who were coming off back-to-back losses after an 11-game winning streak of their own. Damion Baugh had 11 points.

Kansas State (15-2, 4-1) had gone from unranked to the verge of the top 10 after winning three consecutive games against Top 25 teams. The Wildcats beat Oklahoma State in their first home game as a ranked team in four years on Tuesday, then jumped out to a 11-6 lead in their first road game before Lampkin and TCU took over.

Keyontae Johnson had 18 for the Wildcats, who trailed by as many as 25 points midway through the second half before some late baskets. Markquis Nowell finished with 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting, but only after scoring 14 in the final 5 1/2 minutes. Nowell was coming off four consecutive 20-point games.

Lampkin had back-to-back layups on passes from Miles during the middle of TCU’s second 13-2 run before halftime. He took an inbound pass from Miles, who then stole the ball from Nowell and was in the lane when he made a leaping no-look pass to his 6-foot-11, 263-pound teammate for another layup that made it 32-21. That run ended with consecutive baskets by Miller that made it 38-23.

During the middle of their earlier 13-2 run, which took the Frogs from a five-point deficit to leading for good, Lampkin made a layup with the crowd already in a frenzy. When he got back to the other end setting up for defense, Lampkin bent over and slammed both hands on the floor to fire up the fans even more.

Right after that, Chuck O’Bannon stripped the ball from Nae’Qwan Tomlin as he went up for a shot and passed ahead to Lampkin. A flagrant foul was called on Ismael Massoud and Lampkin hit one of the free throws for a 19-13 lead.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas State: The Wildcats shot 43.1% (28 of 65), but had 20 turnovers, including seven by Johnson and six by Nowell – both season highs. K-State was down 22 points and Nowell had only two points before he made a 3-pointer with 5 1/2 minutes left and followed that with two quick layups.

TCU: The Horned Frogs played their fourth consecutive Top 25 opponent, and split those games. The two losses were by a combined six points, including the previous Saturday when Iowa State hit a late shot for a 69-67 win before the Frogs blew an 18-point lead in a 79-75 loss at No. 10 Texas on Wednesday night. … Lampkin was 6-of-7 shooting, with a dunk and five layups, in only his fourth double-figure scoring game this season.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Kansas State won’t move into the top 10 for the first time since March 2013 when the new poll comes out Monday, but the Wildcats will still be solidly ranked. The Frogs were unchanged after a loss last week, and may be that way again when they will be ranked for the seventh consecutive poll.

UP NEXT

Kansas State hosts second-ranked defending national champion Kansas on Tuesday night.

TCU is on road twice next week, at West Virginia on Wednesday before playing at Kansas on Saturday.

Big 12 coaches tab TCU’s Mike Miles Jr. as preseason player of year

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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IRVING, Texas — TCU guard Mike Miles Jr. has been picked as the Big 12 preseason player of the year by the league’s coaches.

Miles was joined by Baylor guard Adam Flagler and Kansas forward Jalen Wilson as unanimous picks on the preseason All-Big 12 team, as selected by coaches who couldn’t vote for their own players. Oklahoma State guard Avery Anderson and Texas teammates Timmy Allen and Marcus Carr were also on the team.

Oklahoma senior guard Grant Sherfield, a transfer from Nevada, was tabbed as the league’s preseason newcomer of the year. Baylor guard Keyonte George was named the top incoming freshman.

Miles was the only Big 12 player last season to finish in the top six for points (15.2) and assists (3.8), and had eight 20-point games. Flagler averaged 13.8 points and 3.0 assists, while Wilson averaged 11.1 points and was second in the Big 12 with 7.4 rebounds a game.

Sherfield led Nevada last season with 19.1 points and 6.4 assists per game, and also averaged 4.2 rebounds. He led the Mountain West Conference in assists.

George was a five-star recruit out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and the highest-ranked recruit in Baylor history. The McDonald’s All-American from Texas averaged 17.8 points last season and shot 41% on 3-pointers.

Mathurin, top-seeded Arizona survive TCU upset bid in OT

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SAN DIEGO — Bennedict Mathurin has come through plenty in clutch situations for Arizona. It’s no surprise he made his biggest plays of the season when the Wildcats needed him the most.

The sophomore shooting guard made a 3-pointer to force overtime and then scored six more points in the extra session as the top-seeded Arizona outlasted ninth-seeded TCU 85-80 on Sunday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Mathurin, the Pac-12 Player of the Year and a second-team AP All-American selection, finished with 30 points. After Kerr Kriisa missed a 3, Mathurin was able to wrestle the ball away from TCU’s Emanuel Miller in the paint and put it in to give the Wildcats an 83-80 lead with 1:11 remaining.

After getting the rebound and making the basket, Mathurin did a couple fist pumps near the baseline.

“My coaches were getting on me for not getting enough rebounds. I was pretty happy about getting the offensive rebound,” said Mathurin, who is the sixth Arizona player to score at least 30 points in an NCAA Tournament game. “So I just went out there and got the rebound, made it. And I was emotional.”

Christian Koloko added 28 points and 12 rebounds, including a putback dunk that slammed the door on the Horned Frogs with 9 seconds left in OT.

Koloko was 12 of 13 from the field, including five dunks, but the rest of the Wildcats were 19 of 55, including 5 of 27 on 3-pointers.

Mathurin even got off to a slow start. He was 2 of 9 before making six of his last 10.

“Ben’s not afraid of the moment. He’s a special player who has an ability to rise up another level when needed. He has that clutch gene,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “I honestly felt really good when he had the ball in hands there. I knew he was going to shoot a 3. Right when he snapped that 3 off to tie it, it was pretty impressive.”

Mathurin and Koloko did enough though for the Wildcats (33-3) to avoid becoming the second No. 1 seed to fall during the second round. They advanced to Thursday’s South Region semifinals in San Antonio, Texas, where they will face fifth-seeded Houston.

“I mean, it was simple, it was win or go home,” Koloko said. “That’s not the first time we were down. We knew we had to keep playing our game. Coach trusted us and told us, you’ve got to hang in there. That’s what we did. We didn’t panic. We played our game and we came back.”

Chuck O’Bannon Jr. had a career-high 23 points for TCU (21-13) while Mike Miles Jr. and Eddie Lampkin Jr. had 20 apiece. The Horned Frogs were looking to get to the Sweet 16 for the first time.

“This season was everything for us because we weren’t even expected to be here. And for us to win our first game and be that close with the No. 1 seed just shows that we have a bunch of guys with a lot of grit,” O’Bannon said.

TCU still had a chance to win in regulation after Mathurin’s big shot, but Miles lost the ball near midcourt. Dalen Terry tried for a game-ending dunk but he didn’t get the shot off before time expired.

TCU trailed by eight points with less than eight minutes remaining and had missed 12 straight shots before scoring 12 straight points to go up 69-67 with 3:39 remaining. O’Bannon scored the first five points and Miles had the last four.

The Horned Frogs held Arizona scoreless for 5:09 before Terry’s 3 from the right corner tied it at 70.

“I’m so proud of them. TCU basketball, I told them I think they made millions of fans by watching this game,” Dixon said.

KRIISA RETURNS

Kriisa had three points in 27 minutes off the bench after missing the past three games.

The sophomore point guard’s season looked to be over after he suffered a sprained ankle when he collided with Koloko in the final minute of a Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal matchup against Stanford on March 10.

He missed his first five shots before hitting a 3-pointer from the left corner that began a spurt of nine straight Arizona points to give it a 67-58 advantage.

“For him to give us 26 minutes – our trainer, Justin Kokoskie, did an amazing job getting him available to play. That was a real sprained ankle. That was no tweak,” Lloyd said.

BIG PICTURE

Arizona: The Wildcats are 6-1 as a top seed in the second round since 1985. The only loss was to Wisconsin in 2000.

TCU: The Horned Frogs got their first NCAA Tournament victory in 35 years on Friday night, but Jamie Dixon’s dream of a deep run for his alma mater will have to wait at least another year.

UP NEXT

Arizona will face Houston for the first time since 2009. It will be the teams’ first meeting in the NCAA Tournament.

No. 6 Kansas slips past TCU 72-68 to remain tied atop Big 12

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas coach Bill Self called point guard Dajuan Harris something unfit for print after his scoreless performance at TCU earlier this week served as a microcosm of the Jayhawks’ entire listless performance.

Well, Harris and the rest of his team made sure Self wouldn’t repeat those words Thursday night.

Ochai Agbaji scored 22 points, Harris showed some moxie by blocking Mike Miles’ shot in the final seconds. and the sixth-ranked Jayhawks avenged their loss to the Horned Frogs two days earlier with a 72-68 victory that forged a tie with Baylor atop the Big 12 heading into their regular-season finales.

Christian Braun was 4 for 4 from the field and added 12 points, Harris scored 11 and David McCormack finished with 10 for the Jayhawks (24-6, 13-4), who will face No. 21 Texas on Saturday just hours before the third-ranked Bears face Iowa State to decide the conference title and the No. 1 seed in next week’s Big 12 Tournament.

“That’s a hard team for us because they’re so athletic,” Self said, “and it negates us in a lot of ways. They can switch and they’re interchangeable. It’s a hard matchup for us.”

The Jayhawks were put in a win-or-else predicament Tuesday night when TCU handled them easily at home. But with a packed Allen Fieldhouse behind them, Self’s crew regrouped Thursday night, overcoming a sluggish start to turn back the Horned Frogs (19-10, 8-9) in the makeup of a game postponed from Jan. 1 because of COVID-19.

Not that it was easy at any point.

The Jayhawks were clinging to a 71-68 lead when the Horned Frogs forced a shot-clock violation with eight seconds left in the game. Miles tried to go to the rim for a layup but was blocked by Harris, and the ball landed in the hands of teammate Jalen Wilson, who made one of two free throws to put the game away.

“We said be ready to get a 3 but if we had a layup to go,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “I like our best guy going to the rim with that much time left.”

He just didn’t expect Harris to be there with a chip on his shoulder.

“We watched the TCU game from last game (and) coach called me something I didn’t like,” Harris said with a smile, “so I had to show him I wasn’t that word. I can’t even say it.”

Emanuel Miller scored 18 points to lead the Horned Frogs. Damion Baugh finished with 14 points.

The Jayhawks never showed a whole lot of fight Tuesday night, when they allowed TCU to dictate just about everything – the tempo, the style, the final score. But at least Mitch Lightfoot showed a little Thursday night, when their senior got into a jawing match with Eddie Lampkin Jr. and proceeded to throw down an ally-oop dunk behind his back.

Naturally, the jawing resumed and Lightfoot was hit with a technical foul. But that only served to ramp up the energy level inside Allen Fieldhouse, where the two teams had played to a 35-all draw by the halftime buzzer.

It took foul trouble to slow the Horned Frogs down in the second half.

Miles, who scored 19 in the win at Schollmaier Arena, took a seat with four fouls with 10 minutes to go. Lampkin joined him on the bench when the bruising forward picked up his fourth with just over seven minutes to go.

Kansas finally pulled ahead 60-59 when Agbaji made a couple of free throws. Then, the Big 12’s leading scorer stepped in front of Baugh’s pass and went the length of the floor for a dunk that fired up the mostly mask-less crowd.

Braun eventually capped an 11-2 run with a 3-pointer that gave Kansas a 69-61 lead with 2 1/2 minutes to play, and the Jayhawks held on the rest of the way to remain tied atop the conference standings.

“They were the more aggressive team just overall,” Braun said of the matchup Tuesday night. “We knew we had to punch them back. They punched us at their house, we had to respond. We knew this game was really important for our goals.”

BIG PICTURE

TCU was just 4 of 16 from beyond the arc after going 3 for 15 in the matchup in Fort Worth, Texas. But unlike that game, when the Horned Frogs compensated with just seven turnovers, they had 15 of them on Thursday night.

Kansas also struggled from beyond the arc, and it was outrebounded for the second straight game by TCU. But the foul line proved to be the difference, where the Jayhawks were 18 of 23 and made a couple crucial ones down the stretch.

UP NEXT

TCU wraps up the regular season Saturday at West Virginia.

Kansas welcomes the Longhorns to Allen Fieldhouse.

TCU second win in row over top-10 team, 74-64 over No. 6 Kansas

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FORT WORTH, Texas – TCU is off to a good start in March, and the Horned Frogs pretty much know for sure now that they will be part of the madness of the NCAA Tournament.

Sixth-ranked Kansas has consecutive losses for the first time this season while still trying to clinch a Big 12 title.

Mike Miles Jr. had 19 points and six assists as TCU solidified its once-shaky tournament resume with a second consecutive win versus a top-10 team, 74-64 over the Jayhawks on Tuesday night.

“It means everything. … This gives us momentum,” Miles said.

“I’m really glad for our players, they really bought in,” coach Jamie Dixon said, pointing out that it was March 1. “You could see it this last week and you could just kind of see things coming.”

The Horned Frogs (19-9, 8-8 Big 12), who had never had consecutive wins over ranked opponents, secured the game during a stretch when Miles made a strong move around KJ Adams Jr. for a layup, and then made a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 59-49 with 7:44 left.

After a Kansas miss, Xavier Cork had a slam dunk that sent the full-house crowd into a frenzy. Students swarmed the court when it was over.

Kansas (23-6, 12-4) went from a half-game Big 12 lead to a half-game behind third-ranked Baylor (25-5, 13-4) with an extra game to play.

The Jayhawks, who play TCU again Thursday at home before facing No. 21 Texas on Saturday, missed a chance to clinch at least a share of their 20th Big 12 title in 26 seasons when they lost 80-70 at third-ranked Baylor last Saturday – the same day the Frogs won at home 69-66 against then-No. 9 Texas Tech.

Kansas will now go to the final day of the regular season before the title is settled.

“Baylor was a game in which we played well in stretches and we played poorly in stretches, but they’re good. And it was on the road. … I mean, sometimes that happens,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “Tonight was more bothersome to me because we had everything to play for, but they did too. And it looked like to me, they were the quicker, more aggressive team, hands down.”

Emmanuel Miller added 11 points for TCU, which has won three of four since a three-game losing streak that had its NCAA hopes in jeopardy. The Frogs were last in the tournament in 2017-18, only their second appearance since their last tourney win in 1987 when Dixon was a senior guard for them.

“It just proves we can beat anybody,” Miles said. “We just want to play our best basketball, and that’s what we’re doing .”

Ochai Agbaji, the Big 12 leading scorer at 20.4 points per game, had 13 points for Kansas on 4-of-17 shooting, with three 3s. Jalen Wilson also had 13 points and David McCormack scored 11. Agbaji and McCormack both had eight rebounds.

The Jayhawks took a 35-34 halftime lead after scoring the last six points. Agbaji swished a 3 from the right corner in front of the TCU bench and Jalen Coleman-Lands put them ahead with a 3 from the right side.

After McCormack made two free throws in the opening minute of the second half, TCU scored the next six points – including layups by Miller and Cork – to go ahead for good.

LONE STAR LOSSES

Kansas finished 0-4 in Big 12 road games in Texas. Before the back-to-back losses to Baylor and TCU, the Jayhawks lost Jan. 8 at Texas Tech and Feb. 7 at Texas. There are some projections that have Kansas opening the NCAA Tournament in Fort Worth, at Dickies Arena that is only a few miles from the TCU campus. There is also a regional semifinal and final in San Antonio.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas: The Jayhawks hadn’t lost consecutive Big 12 games since losing three in a row on the road in January 2021. Their last consecutive double-digit losses had been in February 2004, Self’s first season with KU, on the road against Oklahoma State and Nebraska. … Kansas is 107-16 in games following a loss in Self’s 19 seasons. They had been 4-0 this season.

TCU: The Horned Frogs have four wins against AP Top 25 teams this season, the first time they have ever done that. They are 4-3 against ranked teams, 3-1 at home.

UP NEXT

Kansas and TCU play again Thursday night, this time in Lawrence, Kansas, in the makeup of what was supposed to be the Big 12 opener for both teams on New Year’s Day. That game was postponed because of COVID-19 issues in TCU’s program.