Wake Forest has mostly flown under the radar in coach Steve Forbes' second season, but the Demon Deacons made a loud statement on Saturday night with a 98-76 win over North Carolina. The loss marks just the second time since the 1954-55 season and the first time since 2001-02 that the Tar Heels (12-6, 4-3 ACC) have lost consecutive games by 20 or more points after they lost 85-57 at Miami on Tuesday.
Indiana State transfer Jake Laravia scored 31 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for Wake Forest (16-4, 6-3), which has won five of its last six games to make a case for inclusion in the AP Top 25 for the first time since the 2009-10 season. Alondes Williams added 23 for the Demon Deacons, who shot 54.2% while holding the Tar Heels to just 33.3%.
While there is still time for UNC to turn things around under first-year coach Hubert Davis, the program's awful week casts a cloudy outlook on the Tar Heels' chances of reaching the NCAA Tournament. They entered the game outside of CBS Sports's Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm's projected field and will have limited opportunities in a watered down ACC to show they belong.
And misery has company when it comes to ACC teams that are struggling to meet preseason expectations. A Virginia team picked to finish fourth in the conference fell to 11-8 (5-4 ACC) with a 77-63 loss at NC State. It was the first win over the Cavaliers since 2009 for the Wolfpack (10-10, 3-6). Virginia Tech also suffered a miserable defeat, falling 68-63 at Boston College. After being picked to finish fifth in the league, the Hokies are now 10-8 (2-5) with games at North Carolina, vs. Miami and at Florida State up next.
But perhaps no one from the conference's eroding middle class is as miserable as Louisville. The Cardinals have lost four of their last five after dropping an 82-70 home game against Notre Dame. Louisville (11-8, 5-4 ACC) has squandered a 4-0 start in ACC play and fallen into long-shot territory to be an NCAA Tournament team. With a NET ranking of 109 entering the day, the Cardinals had little margin for error, and losing to a Notre Dame team that entered at No. 78 in the NET will go down as a Quad 3 loss for the moment. The Fighting Irish (12-6, 5-2) have won eight of their last nine since a 4-5 start.
Winner: Florida State blows big lead, holds on vs. Miami
After knocking off No. 6 Duke on Tuesday, Florida State extended its winning streak to six games with a 61-60 win over Miami. But it wasn't without drama. A lot of drama. The Seminoles (13-5, 6-2 ACC) squandered a 26-point lead in the second half, allowing Miami to close within a point during the final minute. The 'Canes had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but Isaiah Wong's jumper missed, and FSU survived.
Considering that FSU beat Miami 65-64 on Jan. 11, the Hurricanes (14-5, 6-2) are now two one-point losses against the same opponent away from being 8-0 in ACC play. It's still been a wonderful start to league play for the 'Canes, but the narrow defeats against their in-state rival could leave a mark.
Loser: Loyola Chicago falls after cracking Top 25
No. 22 Loyola Chicago's 10-game winning streak came to an emphatic end as Missouri State crushed the Ramblers 79-69 on the Rambers' home floor after leading by 20 midway through the second half. The loss is Loyola Chicago's first outside of Quad 1 this season, as it will stand for now as a Quad 2 loss since Missouri State entered at No. 69 in the NET. Isiaih Mosley led the Bears (15-6, 6-2 MVC) with 40 points.
Winner: Baylor bounces back
After becoming the first team to ever lose two home games in the same while ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 last week, Baylor completed a nice bounce-back week on Saturday. The No. 5 Bears won 65-51 at Oklahoma by closing the game on a 20-9 run. Leading scorer James Akinko returned to the lineup after missing a game due to a tailbone injury, but Baylor prevailed without much offensive help from Akinjo, as he finished with just two points.
The defense was the most impressive part of the performance for Baylor, as it forced 25 Oklahoma turnovers and converted them in to 35 points.
Winner: TCU is legitimate
TCU entered the weekend as one of the "Last Four In" of the projected NCAA Tournament field in Jerry Palm's Bracketology. While the Horned Frogs had been solid, their resume lacked high-end pop. Now, after a 59-44 win at No. 15 Iowa State, the Horned Frogs (13-3, 3-2 Big 12) have a win that proves their legitimacy. They held the Cyclones (14-5, 2-5) to just 31% shooting, including a 3-of-26 mark from 3-point range.
Memphis transfer Damion Baugh led the way for TCU with 23 points, seven rebounds, seven steals and five assists. If the Horned Frogs can reach the Big Dance for the second time in coach Jamie Dixon's six-year tenure, it would mark two appearances in five years, which would be the program's best stretch since making it to the NCAA Tournament in 1968 and 1971.
Winner: Auburn makes case for No. 1
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl is known for his shirtless antics when he is a spectator supporting Auburn's other athletic programs. But his players stole his move with a shirtless celebration of a huge win for the program Saturday as the No. 2 Tigers erased a 10-point first-half deficit in an 80-71 win over No. 12 Kentucky. The victory should make Auburn the nation's new No. 1 team come Monday after the Tigers were narrowly topped in the AP Top 25 by Gonzaga this week.
Read more here on Auburn's historic win here as the program hits its top gear in Bruce Pearl's eighth season as coach.
Loser: K-State blows big lead vs. Kansas
Kansas State led No. 7 Kansas 50-34 at halftime and still clung to a six-point lead with three minutes to go. But the Jayhawks closed on a 9-0 run to steal a 78-75 win in the end. A victory may have changed the trajectory of the season for the Wildcats (10-8, 2-5 Big 12), but instead a prolific 35-point outing by Nigel Pack went to waste.
Winner: Duke spreads wealth in rout of Syracuse
No. 6 Duke had four starters score exactly 15 points in an impressive display of balance during a 79-59 win over Syracuse. The fifth starter, Jeremy Roach, had just six points but finished with a career-high nine assists. The display of quality facilitation from Roach was encouraging amid the absence of freshman guard Trevor Keels due to a leg injury.
Roach has been uneven as a sophomore, but perhaps Saturday's performance could be a turning point even though he struggled to shoot the ball. Joey Baker added 11 for the Blue Devils (15-3, 5-2 ACC) as they bounced back from their second loss of league play at Florida State on Tuesday. Syracuse (9-10, 3-5) is just 2-5 in the month of January.
Loser: LSU drops third straight
No. 2 Auburn's 80-71 victory over No. 12 Kentucky headlined Saturday's college basketball slate and delivered the goods as the Tigers rallied from a 10-point deficit for a big win. But the SEC also provided the day's only other game between ranked teams, and it was an intriguing one, as No. 24 Tennessee outlasted No. 13 LSU 64-50 in a game that featured some serious tension.The teams had to be separated as they headed to the locker room at halftime following a few chippy exchanges in the first half. There were a combined 40 fouls called in the game, but that total could have been higher with a tighter whistle.
In the end, an LSU team playing without injured point guard Xavier Pinson could not replicate the offensive efficiency it enjoyed in a 79-67 win over the Volunteers on Jan. 8. Tennessee (13-5, 4-3 SEC) got 16 points from Santiago Vescovi, and LSU (15-4, 3-4 SEC) got 16 from Tari Eason. The Tigers have dropped three straight amid Pinson's absence, and their regression has contributed to Auburn's emergence as a clear frontrunner in the SEC. Just a few weeks ago, it looked like one of the nation's most wide open conferences, but now it would be a surprise if anyone other than the Auburn emerged as the victor.
Winner: Texas Tech closes strong
No. 18 Texas Tech outscored West Virginia 25-11 over the final six minutes, making its final six shots from the field to secure a 78-65 win over the Mountaineers. The late offensive explosion against a quality defensive foe showcased how the Red Raiders (15-4, 5-2 Big 12) can be more than just a defense-first squad when Terrence Shannon is at full strength. The junior guard scored a game-high 23 points in his third game back from an injury after missing roughly a month of game action.
Winner: Johnny Juzang is on fire
Johnny Juzang scored 23 points on 9 of 18 shooting in No. 9 UCLA's 71-65 win at Colorado. The junior guard is on a serious heater as of late, averaging 24.5 points over his last four games on 57% shooting. His offensive renaissance is coming at the right time for the Bruins (13-2, 5-1 Pac-12) as they prepare to host No. 3 Arizona on Tuesday night. The first of two scheduled meetings between the teams this season could go a long way toward determining who wins the Pac-12.
While the Wildcats (15-1, 5-0) are looking like one of the best teams in the country, it would be unwise to count out UCLA with Juzang playing so well. It also won't help Arizona that it has to play Sunday at Cal and that its game at UCLA will be its third straight road contest. But it's a rescheduled game that got shoehorned in after it couldn't be played on its originally scheduled date of Dec. 30. That will give the Wildcats a decent excuse if they can't slow down Juzang.