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Four nationally-ranked teams fall, Hoosiers improve to 11-1

Credit: Liberty University

The list of No. 1 teams that have suffered a defeat shortly after obtaining the top spot continues to grow.

While all four of the nation’s remaining unbeaten teams survived unscathed on Saturday as Liberty (14-0) defeated Akron 80-67 to capture the “Battle for the Capital” championship, unheralded Duquesne (10-0) edged upset-minded Austin Peay 86-77 in the St. Pete Shootout, 12th-ranked Auburn (11-0) muscled its way past Lehigh 74-51, and No. 20 San Diego State (12-0) — looking as impressive as ever in an 80-52 pummeling of Utah at the Staples Center in Los Angeles — it’s anybody’s guess what this week’s national Top 25 might look like as five nationally-ranked teams, including No. 1 Kansas, went down to defeat yesterday.

The top-ranked Jayhawks (9-2) lost to No. 18 Villanova when Jermaine Samuels drained a 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats a dramatic 56-55 victory in Philadelphia.

Sixth-ranked Kentucky (8-3) lost for the third time this season as No. 5 Ohio State defeated the Wildcats 71-65 in the CBS Class in Las Vegas.

No. 13 Dayton (9-2) also fell as Colorado’s D’Shawn Schwartz drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer as the Buffaloes defeated the Flyers 78-76 in overtime in the Legends Classic in Chicago.  McKinley Wright IV, who had off-season surgery to repair a tear in his shoulder, scored a career-high 29 points for Colorado in the upset. 

Both of Dayton’s losses this year have been in overtime, including a 90-84 setback to top-ranked Kansas in late November.

Sixteenth-ranked Arizona (10-3) also came up on the short end yesterday, losing to St. John’s 70-67 in the Al Attles Classic in San Francisco.  Led by L.J. Figueroa’s 21 points, the unranked Red Storm, who have won seven in a row, improved to 11-2.

Cold-shooting Florida State (10-2) nearly joined the other nationally-ranked teams that lost on Saturday, but rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final seven minutes to defeat stubborn South Florida 66-60 in the Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise, Florida.  The 19th-ranked Seminoles outscored the Bulls 19-3 down the stretch as USF dropped to 6-6.

Meanwhile, Filip Petrusev scored 24 points and pulled down nine rebounds as second-ranked Gonzaga (13-1) — this week’s likely No. 1 pick — cruised past Eastern Washington 112-77 in Spokane.    

In other Saturday action, freshman guard Armann Franklin buried a go-ahead three-pointer with 15.7 seconds remaining as Indiana (11-1) held off Notre Dame 62-60 in Indianapolis.  Franklin scored a game-high 17 points for the Hoosiers, who have won three in a row after losing their Big Ten opener to Wisconsin by twenty points on Dec. 7th.

The Fighting Irish, who scratched and clawed their way back into the game after trailing by eleven at halftime, fell to 8-4.

Georgetown’s Omer Yurtseven scored a career-high 32 points, grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds and blocked four shots as the Hoyas improved to 9-3 with an easy 99-71 win over Samford (6-8) at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

Gregg Marshall’s Wichita State Shockers made it ten out eleven with a 73-63 victory over A-10 preseason favorite Virginia Commonwealth (9-3).  Freshman guard Grant Sherfield scored a team-high 14 points for Wichita State, which has won four in a row, while Marcus Evans scored 15 points and made five steals for the Rams.

Elsewhere, the A-10’s George Mason quietly improved to 11-1 with a 69-53 win over UMBC, Sam Merrill’s five 3-pointers lifted Utah State (12-2) past Florida 65-62 in Orlando, Stanford (11-1) played poorly but got past San Diego 62-59, San Francisco (10-3) outscored UC Davis 93-84, and Florida A&M (1-9) — one of only two winless Div. I teams in the country heading into Saturday — picked up its first win of the season by downing Seattle on the road 71-57 late last night.

Darcy G. Richardson is a historian and the author of more than a dozen books. His latest is Loyola's Improbable Ramblers: 55 Years in the Making, available now on Amazon.

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