Duke pulled off two big comebacks to become the unanimous No. 1 in the AP Top 25 men’s basketball poll. Now Arizona could use one of its own from a holiday-tournament stumble that dropped the Wildcats from No. 2 to out of the poll in a week.
The Blue Devils (8-0) were atop all 65 ballots in results released Monday after they won the PK80 Invitational’s Motion Bracket in Portland, Oregon. They picked up the 11 first-place votes that last week went to Arizona, with the Wildcats (3-3) turning in a stunning 0-3 showing in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
That made them the first team to go from No. 2 to unranked in a week since Louisville in 1986-87 after its own November tournament flop in the Great Alaska Shootout.
Kansas moved up to No. 2, followed by three teams that won Thanksgiving week tournaments: Michigan State (PK80 Invitational Victory Bracket), Villanova (Atlantis ) and Notre Dame (Maui Invitational).
Florida checked in at No. 6, followed by Kentucky, Wichita State, Texas A&M and Miami to round out the top 10.
It ultimately took only a month for the Blue Devils to convince all the poll voters that they’re the nation’s top team. They had roughly half the first-place votes (33) in the preseason poll, climbed to 54 votes after beating then-No. 2 Michigan State in the Champions Classic in Chicago — and now own them all.
That came after Duke rallied from 16 down to beat Texas in overtime and then from 17 down to beat the Gators in their PK80 bracket championship game late Sunday, with star freshman Marvin Bagley III turning in huge performances (34 points and 15 rebounds against Texas, 30 points and 15 rebounds against Florida).
“It’s November, whatever happens we have to use it as the process of growth,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said afterward. “Our goal is to keep getting better.”
Reigning national champion North Carolina slid from No. 9 to No. 13 after its first loss since last season.
The Tar Heels (5-1) lost 63-45 to the Spartans in the PK80 Invitational Victory finale while shooting a program-record-low 24.6 percent. It was their first loss since falling to Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament semifinals in March, snapping an 11-game winning streak that included their win against Gonzaga for the 2017 title in Glendale, Arizona.
Notre Dame (6-0) made the biggest leap, climbing eight spots after rallying to beat Wichita State in the Maui title game. Texas A&M (6-0) was up seven spots from No. 16 to No. 9 after a road win at then-No. 10 Southern California. And Baylor (5-0) jumped from No. 22 to No. 16.
Arizona’s farewell aside, Xavier (5-1) took the biggest fall by going from No. 15 to No. 21 after losing to Arizona State in the Las Vegas Invitational title game. USC (4-1) slid four spots from No. 10 to No. 14 after the Texas A&M loss.
The Top 25 welcomed five new teams this week: No. 18 Virginia, No. 20 Arizona State, No. 22 Texas Tech, No. 23 TCU and No. 25 Creighton.
Joining Arizona on the list of teams falling out of the poll were Purdue (No. 18 last week), Seton Hall (from No. 20), St. Mary’s (from 21st) and UCLA (from 23rd).
For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25
Ereck Flowers to compete for right tackle job with NY Giants
New York Giants are making big calls and it’s all starting with Ereck Flowers.
According to John Healy of the New York Daily News, General Manager Dave Gentleman said in a statement that the team had informed Flowers that he will have a chance to compete for the starting right tackle job. Head Coach Pat Shurmur said he spoke with Erek on the phone, and Ereck was fine with the decision on the phone.
The question that all have is, will Flowers struggle on the new side if he can win the position? Why? Because making a change from one side to the other side isn’t always a seamless proposition. Hopefully, this new switch will give Flowers a chance to remain a starter as he enters his fourth season with the team.
Larry Nance Jr. to wear his dad’s retired No. 22 with Cavs
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cavaliers will again have a No. 22, and he looks eerily familiar.
Larry Nance Jr. is getting to honor his father by wearing his dad’s retired No. 22 jersey with the Cavs, who worked with the NBA to make the unique tribute possible.
“My dad’s jersey will get to stay retired in the rafters, so, I couldn’t be happier with it,” Nance Jr. said Thursday night before making his home debut with the Cavs, who recently acquired him in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. “I’m thrilled. I’ve been wearing 22 my whole life and to get to wear it for the Cleveland Cavaliers is beyond a dream come true.”
Nance Jr. will begin wearing No. 22 next week. For now, he’ll be in No. 24, the number he chose after he was obtained from the Lakers.
When he was traded, Nance Jr. considered how special it would be to wear his dad’s number, which was retired by the Cavs in 1995 and hangs above Quicken Loans Arena. Larry Nance Sr. spent eight seasons with Cleveland and was a fan favorite because of his shot blocking and dunking skills.
The kid is just like his dad.
The younger Nance said his dad didn’t have a big reaction when he got the news.
“I called him and told him yesterday that we were kind of talking about it and got it passed,” he said. “My dad is a man of few words so he kind of just let me know with a smile that he was excited.”
Last weekend in Los Angeles, Nance Jr. wore his father’s No. 22 Phoenix jersey while participating in the dunk contest at the All-Star Game. Nance Jr. took his look a step further by dressing like his dad when he played in the 1980s.
Will he bring back the retro look?
“This means short shorts and high white socks,” Nance joked. “Absolutely.”
Nance Jr. was bracing himself for an emotional homecoming in his first home game with the Cavs. He cracked that one of the only problems he had since his return to Ohio was that his mom was trying to convince him to live at home again.
She’s relaxed on that request.
“They’re actually looking at a house right now,” he said. “So I think I’ve got her once she kind of got some national attention she was like, ‘Oh, gosh. All right. I guess.’”
Noren, Simpson lead at Honda; Woods has solid 70
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Tiger Woods had what he called “easily” his best round hitting the ball, and he didn’t even break par at the Honda Classic.
Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.
“When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, ‘Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,’” said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.
Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.
Woods had only one big blunder — a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt — in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.
“It was very positive today,” Woods said. “It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.”
It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.
Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.
Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.
The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans — outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State — from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he’s getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.
“I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,” Noren said. “So it’s been great.”
PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann — who all live up the road in Jupiter — opened with a 67. There’s not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It’s a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren’t quite the same.
Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day — carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.
Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.
“One bad hole,” he said. “That’s the way it goes.”
It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.
He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.
“I’m trying to get better, more efficient at what I’m doing,” Woods said. “And also I’m actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.”
Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.
Later, he laughed about the moment.
“I was so nervous,” Kizzire said. “I said to Tiger, ‘Why did you have to make me so nervous?’”