UK Men's Basketball

How far did Kentucky basketball fall? The latest AP Top 25 poll

Photo slideshow: Tennessee hands UK another loss in Knoxville

No. 23 Tennessee rallied in the second half to beat No. 17 Kentucky 76-65 on Jan. 6, 2018, in Knoxville.
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No. 23 Tennessee rallied in the second half to beat No. 17 Kentucky 76-65 on Jan. 6, 2018, in Knoxville.

Kentucky’s second half struggles in Knoxville Saturday translated to a slip to No. 21 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 Poll released Monday.

The Cats played perhaps their best half of basketball this season in taking a 37-29 halftime lead against Tennessee, but suffered an injury to PJ Washington and saw an abysmal second half erode their confidence and their lead as they dropped their first SEC contest 76-65.

“They just out-toughed us,” UK Coach John Calipari said after the game. “They just threw us around. It was embarrassing.”

Kentucky, ranked as the No. 5 team in the country in the preseason, slipped into the teens after the loss to UCLA in late December. Oddly, this is the first time UK has ever been ranked in the No. 21 spot, according to UK.

Despite Tennessee’s rally, the Vols also dropped in the poll from No. 23 to No. 24, thanks to a loss earlier in the week to Auburn at home. The Tigers entered the poll at No. 21. UK plays at Auburn on Feb. 14. Kentucky, Auburn and Tennessee are the only SEC teams in this week’s rankings. Texas A&M, the Cats’ opponent on Tuesday night, and Arkansas slid out of the poll.

Villanova reclaimed the No. 1 spot after a week of upsets saw former No. 1 Michigan State and No. 2 Duke lose.

West Virginia, who the Cats play in Morgantown on Jan. 27, came in at No. 2 with 12 first-place votes. The Mountaineers defeated then-No. Oklahoma last week to vault into their highest ranking since Jerry West’s senior season in 1959. West Virginia (14-1) hasn’t lost since falling to Texas A&M on opening night. That run includes a December home win against Virginia and Saturday’s win against the Sooners and star freshman Trae Young.

Purdue and Wichita State tied for No. 5. Duke, the preseason No. 1-ranked team, fell five spots to No. 7 after losing at North Carolina State. Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Xavier rounded out the top 10.

Reigning national champion North Carolina took the biggest fall of any team that remained in the poll, sliding eight spots from No. 12 to No. 20 after road losses to now-No. 23 Florida State and Virginia .

Jared Peck: 859-231-1333, @JPSaysHere

The Associated Press contributed to this report

The AP Top Twenty Five

The top 25 teams in The Associated Press’ college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Jan. 7, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and previous ranking:

Record

Pts

Prv

1. Villanova (52)

14-1

1611

3

2. West Virginia (12)

14-1

1559

6

3. Virginia (1)

14-1

1438

8

4. Michigan St.

15-2

1390

1

5. Purdue

15-2

1225

13

5. Wichita St.

13-2

1225

9

7. Duke

13-2

1222

2

8. Texas Tech

14-1

1174

18

9. Oklahoma

12-2

1152

7

10. Xavier

15-2

1050

5

11. Arizona St.

13-2

1036

4

12. Kansas

12-3

888

10

13. Seton Hall

14-2

759

21

14. Cincinnati

14-2

739

19

15. Gonzaga

14-3

676

19

16. TCU

13-2

621

16

17. Arizona

12-4

537

14

18. Miami

13-2

502

15

19. Clemson

14-1

465

25

20. North Carolina

12-4

423

12

21. Kentucky

12-3

314

17

22. Auburn

14-1

243

23. Florida St.

12-3

202

24

24. Tennessee

10-4

198

23

25. Creighton

13-3

160

Others receiving votes: Notre Dame 121, Florida 85, Texas A&M 62, Ohio St. 29, Rhode Island 7, Michigan 5, Nevada 2, Baylor 2, New Mexico St. 1, Georgia 1, Arkansas 1.

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