Duke men’s basketball drops to No. 11 following loss to rivals, while North Carolina climbs to No. 4

The Blue Devils ended the regular season 24-7, losing their final game to archrival North Carolina, and are now at No. 11 in the newest AP poll. The Blue Zone breaks down movement in the polls around the country.

Men's Basketball Opens Saturday Versus Coppin State - Duke University

Duke drops following rivalry loss 

With a share of the ACC regular-season championship on the line, Duke fell just short of a comeback in front of its Cameron Indoor crowd. The highly anticipated rivalry showdown pitted two top ten teams – North Carolina was ranked seventh, while Duke was ninth. Duke entered the game fresh off a 79-64 victory over North Carolina State. However, the Tar Heels proved to be the more prepared squad, taking an early lead in the first half and never looking back.

Senior guard RJ Davis and senior center Armando Bacot are familiar rivals for the Blue Devils, but it was Notre Dame transfer Cormac Ryan who led North Carolina to the decisive victory. Ryan scored a season-high 31 points, shooting 66.7% from the field and 6-for-8 from three. When Duke put pressure in the last few minutes of the game, Ryan made a clutch three and two free throws to silence the Cameron Crazies.

Although much of the Blue Devils struggled throughout the competition, sophomore center Kyle Filipowski kept his team in the game at crucial moments. The Westtown, New York native led the club with 23 points, including two critical three-pointers in the second half. Duke even outscored the Tar Heels 48-44 in the second half, but the late comeback was insufficient to overcome the early disadvantage. Ultimately, North Carolina won, completing the season sweep. The Blue Devils fell to 11th in the AP Poll heading into the ACC Tournament, while North Carolina re-entered the top five at fourth.

Movement in the SEC 

In a week filled with passionate rivalries, the Wildcats came to Rocky Top hoping to pull off an upset. And, then-No. 15 Kentucky extended its winning streak to five games by upsetting then-No. 4 Tennessee on Saturday. The Wildcats were led by senior guard Antonio Reeves and freshman guard Reed Sheppard, who each scored 27 points. Reeves, the team’s leading scorer, hit 60% from beyond the arc and 8-for-16 from the field. Similarly, freshman Sheppard represented his home state admirably, coming off the bench and shooting 7-of-10 from three points. On the opposite end of the court, senior guard Dalton Knecht scored a season-high 40 points to keep the Volunteers alive. The SEC’s leading scorer and Player of the Year couldn’t stop the upset on his alone, as despite a late rally, Kentucky won 85-81. As a result, the Wildcats climbed to No. 9 in this week’s AP rankings, while Tennessee remained in the top five, finishing at No. 5.

Houston solidifies its spot at the top

After winning the Big 12 regular-season championship, the Cougars proved they were the best team in the country this week. Kansas may have won the last meeting between the two teams on February 3, but Houston dominated their final game, defeating the Jayhawks 76–46. Senior guard Jamal Shead led the Cougars with 13 points, followed by Damian Dunn, who scored 12 points off the bench. In fact, 27 of Houston’s 76 points came from the bench, preventing Kansas from gathering momentum and allowing Houston to retain a lead throughout the game. Kevin McCullar, the Jayhawks’ top scorer, did not return to the game after falling behind 40-21 early in the second half due to an apparent knee ailment.

Hunter Dickinson, Kansas’ other main contributor, was restricted to 11 points and injured his shoulder in the second half. Regardless of injuries, Houston continues to dominate, while the Jayhawks are ranked 16th this week.

Full Rankings

  1. Houston
  2. UConn
  3. Purdue
  4. North Carolina
  5. Tennessee
  6. Arizona
  7. Iowa State
  8. Creighton
  9. Kentucky
  10. Marquette
  11. Duke
  12. Auburn
  13. Illinois
  14. Baylor
  15. South Carolina
  16. Kansas
  17. Gonzaga
  18. Utah State
  19. Alabama
  20. BYU
  21. Saint Mary’s
  22. Washington State
  23. Nevada
  24. Dayton
  25. Texas Tech

 

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