TOP 25 REWIND: UNC, Kentucky, Miami learning from losses
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Fifth-ranked North Carolina made use of its few days off to sort out what went wrong during an upset home loss to Wofford. Now sixth-ranked Miami and No. 7 Kentucky have to do the same.
The Tar Heels lost to Wofford on Wednesday — snapping a 23-game home winning streak — before regrouping with a win against Ohio State in Saturday’s CBS Sports Classic in New Orleans. The Wildcats (9-2) lost to unranked UCLA in that same event in the marquee game of the week for a light AP Top 25 schedule.
“Hopefully we bounce back from this,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “I told them, “The next four games we play, we can lose every one.”
Then, late Saturday, the Hurricanes followed with a loss to New Mexico State in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii.
The Tar Heels (11-2) were coming off last weekend’s win at No. 21 Tennessee when they turned in a clunker of a performance against the Terriers, from being sloppy with the ball to struggling for consistent defensive stops and offensive flow. It was a performance that left coach Roy Williams criticizing “bad movement, bad defense, bad coaching” for a team he described as “fat and happy” — and it overshadowed the good news that Pittsburgh graduate transfer Cameron Johnson finally made his season debut after missing the first 11 games because of injuries.
After the 86-72 win against the Buckeyes, Williams said the team used the Wofford film as an extended tutorial.
“We went in and watched the tape of the entire game and they listened to the coaches grade it while they were sitting there,” Williams said. “It was almost 2½ hours, so hopefully they learned something.”
Now it’s the Wildcats’ turn after the 83-75 loss to the Bruins that left Calipari to say: “We’re better than this.”
As for Miami, the Hurricanes (10-1) beat Hawaii in Friday’s Diamond Head first round in Honolulu but lost to New Mexico State in the semifinal. A win would’ve sent the Hurricanes into a Christmas Day title game against USC, which was ranked earlier this season.
Instead, Miami will play Middle Tennessee for third place.
No. 12 Gonzaga (10-3) lost to San Diego State 72-70 on Thursday in a game the Bulldogs never led.
The week offered no games matching two ranked teams.
Fourth-ranked Duke (12-1) finally got some time for practice work after a travel-filled early schedule. It showed in Wednesday’s 64-point rout of Evansville, which followed an 11-day break since the loss at Boston College in the Blue Devils’ Atlantic Coast Conference opener on Dec. 9.
Freshman Trae Young has everyone’s attention for No. 17 Oklahoma.
Young had 26 points and tied an NCAA Division I record with 22 assists in Tuesday’s win against Northwestern State. He followed that with 31 points and 12 assists in Friday’s win against Oklahoma.
Young leads the country in scoring (28.7 points) and assists (10.4), including a 43-point showing in a win against Oregon in the PK80 Invitational.
Arizona went from No. 2 to unranked in a week after a 0-3 showing at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, but the 18th-ranked Wildcats have won seven straight games after Thursday’s win against Connecticut.
TENNESSEE’S ACC SUCCESS
No. 21 Tennessee won at Wake Forest on Saturday in its final pre-Southeastern Conference game, though the Volunteers would be off to a 3-1 start in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings.
The Wake Forest win joined a victory against North Carolina State in the third-place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas and a win at Georgia Tech. Tennessee lost a close one at home last weekend to UNC.
Miami’s loss left three unbeaten teams in the poll: top-ranked Villanova (12-0), No. 3 Arizona State (12-0) and No. 15 TCU (12-0).
TCU has the nation’s longest winning streak at a school-record 17 games dating to last season’s NIT championship after Friday’s win against William & Mary.
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