Gonzaga passed every big test with forward Killian Tillie in a walking boot, including a title-game win over then-top-ranked Duke in the Maui Invitational.
Facing a long, athletic and experienced Tennessee team, the Zags ran out mojo and will likely drop out of the No. 1 spot in the AP Top 25 .
Unable to make the big plays down the stretch, Gonzaga had its undefeated season end with a 76-73 loss to the seventh-ranked Vols in the Colangelo Classic on Sunday.
“They’ve been down a lot of tough roads and responded,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “In March, that’s the type of game you’ve got to win to get to the Final Four.”
Sunday’s game had a Final Four-feel to it, two Top 10 teams playing high-level basketball on a neutral court.
Gonzaga (9-1) matched Tennessee nearly shot for shot, but had no answer for Admiral Schofield down the stretch. Tennessee’s senior guard hit a 3-pointer with 24 seconds left and scored 25 of his 30 points in the second half to send the Vols to their first win over a No. 1 team since beating Kansas in 2010.
Next up should be a move up the poll for Tennessee.
“We knew it would have a March kind of feel to it,” said Tennessee coach Rick Barnes, who moved into a tie with Gary Williams for 25th in Division I with 668 victories. “When you play against a No. 1 team, you’re going to play 40 minutes and we probably did that better today that we had any other game this season.”
WOLF PACK ROLLING: Nevada breezed through the early part of its schedule, living up to lofty preseason expectations by rolling over one opponent after the next.
Faced with their first big test, the sixth-ranked Wolf Pack needed a half to find their footing before mounting a massive comeback to beat No. 20 Arizona State 72-66 on Friday night in Los Angeles.
“The second half showed our maturity and showed our experience with each other,” said Nevada’s Caleb Martin, who scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half.
Nevada (9-0) was a popular Final Four pick heading into the season after Martin and his twin brother, Cody, decided to return instead of bolting for the NBA. The Wolf Pack had their highest preseason ranking at No. 6 in the AP Top 25 and cruised the first eight games, beating 2019 Final Four team Loyola-Chicago in a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16 and notching a convincing win over USC.
Nevada struggled with Arizona State’s length and quickness while falling behind by 11 in the first half at the Staples Center, but it righted itself after a stern halftime speech by coach Eric Musselman.
“Coach mentioned at halftime, `You finally meet some talent and this is how you react?”‘ Caleb Martin said. “It kind of turned some guys up in the locker room.”
Nevada fought through another test on Sunday, pulling away late to hold off scrappy Grand Canyon despite a short turnaround and what felt like a home game for the Antelopes.
JAYHAWKS STRUGGLE: No. 2 Kansas remained among the undefeated, but it took a huge effort to stay there.
Playing just down the road in Kansas City, the Jayhawks (8-0) started fast without injured center Udoka Azubuike, but they needed a strong finish from Dedric Lawson to hold off New Mexico State 63-60.
A preseason AP All-American, Lawson scored Kansas’ final 14 points and finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
KENTUCKY FALLS: Kentucky had been on a roll since losing to Duke in its season opener, winning seven straight games to climb up to No. 9.
The Wildcats (7-2) may take a big tumble in the poll after losing to Seton Hall.
Keldon Johnson hit a half-court buzzer-beater to send the game to overtime, but Seton Hall pulled it out in the extra period, winning 84-83 after Myles Cale hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 9.5 seconds. Kentucky had a final shot, but Quincy McKnight blocked Johnson’s 3-point attempt with a second left.
FURMAN FLYING: No. 25 Furman was ranked for the first this week after building a resume that included wins over two Final Four teams, Loyola-Chicago and defending national champion Villanova.
The Paladins will likely remain in the AP Top 25 after beating Elon and South Carolina Upstate . Furman is the first Southern Conference team to start 10-0 since Davidson opened with 11 straight wins under Lefty Driesell in 1963.
WOLVERINES WIN: No. 5 Michigan faced what was supposed to be yet another test against South Carolina. The Wolverines (10-0) handled it just fine, knocking off the Gamecocks 89-78 on Saturday.
Michigan’s follow-up to reaching last year’s national title game includes wins over defending national champion Villanova, No. 14 North Carolina and Purdue, No. 19 at the time.
Not bad at all.
POLL MOVEMENT?: Purdue dropped out of the AP Top 25 last week but could return in Monday’s poll after knocking off No. 23 Maryland.
Syracuse might work its way in, too, after winning a taught game against Georgetown and blowing out Northeastern.
The 23rd-ranked Terps could drop out after losing to the Boilermakers, and No. 24 Nebraska may be on the outside looking in after a loss to Minnesota.
No. 16 Kansas State might be looking at a big tumble after scoring 46 points in a loss to Tulsa.
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