Winners and losers: Kentucky, UNC falter while Kansas, Clemson come out on top
The Tar Heels dropped their second straight while A&M fell to 0-3 in SEC play
With no college football to speak of and bowl season all but over, college hoops took center stage on Saturday and there was no shortage of drama.
Once again, it was a day filled with upsets and fantastic finishes -- nine ranked foes fell, including LSU and Florida stunners at the buzzer. To break down all the action, we've separated the winners and losers from a sensational Saturday.
The Wildcats were run off the floor in Knoxville by No. 23 Tennessee. The 76-65 loss dropped them to 2-1 in SEC play.
As uncharacteristic as the loss (and the effort) was for Kentucky, it might simply be something Big Blue Nation should come to expect at a regular clip this season -- the ups, downs and sideways trajectory -- for a team that has the youngest roster in the country.
"We just got manhandled," Calipari bluntly said of the loss, "by men."
Death, taxes, and Virginia being way better than anyone pegged them in the preseason.
Tony Bennett has a vintage Cavaliers team that's finding its groove and on Saturday, they notched their biggest victory of the season to date against a solid North Carolina team, 61-49. The Hoos are now a perfect 3-0 in ACC play and 14-1 on the season -- their lone loss coming to a rock-solid West Virginia team.
Doubt Tony Bennett at your own peril, this team's rounding into shape as an ACC power in 2018.
Loser: Texas A&M
Texas A&M's a shell of what it was projected, and the Aggies' three-game skid -- including aon Saturday -- is major cause for concern for Billy Kennedy's team.
The Aggies are now 0-3 in SEC play and have a two-game road trip ahead that looks incredibly daunting: at Kentucky, and at Tennessee. It's entirely plausible that A&M will be 0-5 in league play which, incredibly, would put them on an uphill climb to even get into the NCAA Tournament.
Winner: North Carolina State
For the second time this season, NC State landed a win over a No. 2 team -- the first coming over Arizona in November, and the latest occurring on Saturday in Raleigh over cross-state rival Duke.
Incredibly, the 96-85 victory against the Blue Devils came only three days after a 30-point loss to Notre Dame in South Bend.
"Every team we play, I'm going to tell them they're ranked No. 2 in the country," Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts said after the game.
NC State has its first ACC victory of the season, and it's Keatts' first with the Pack. And entering a brutal four-game stretch that includes three ranked cross-conference foes, this is a big confidence booster at a time they needed it in the worst of ways.
Loser: North Carolina
Losing to Virginia on Saturday isn't inexcusable. In fact, it was halfway expected, based off how UVA has handled UNC in recent years at home. But it wasn't acceptable for Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams.
"That was a big ol' butt kickin', that's all it was," he said.
Not only was the 61-49 final a butt kickin', as Williams put it, but it's also the Tar Heels' second successive loss in ACC play, which puts them behind the eight ball for the regular-season crown right away. And while I wouldn't ever count out Roy Williams' coaching and his proven track record, UNC's in a lull and at the bottom of the ladder three games into league play.
All the hubbub in the Pac-12 during the past month has been over Arizona and Arizona State, but the Buffaloes quietly capped an incredible 48-hour stretch Saturday afternoon by besting both -- ending the Wildcats' nine-game winning streak in Boulder -- on Saturday only two days after knocking off Arizona State.
So now Colorado (10-6), is 2-2 in Pac-12 play with victories against Arizona and Arizona State, and losses to Oregon and Oregon State. Next up on its schedule is a trip to the Golden State, where it will face Southern California on Wednesday, followed by a tilt to UCLA. If the Buffs can keep their momentum rolling, they could emerge as a potential NCAA Tournament team. As it stands now, though, CBS Sports' Jerry Palm has them on the outside looking in -- although back-to-back victories against ranked opponents could change that outlook rather quickly.
TCU's got plenty of pub as a sexy pick in the Big 12 all offseason, but Kansas politely reminded the Horned Frogs that the league is theirs until proven otherwise with an 88-84 win in Fort Worth. It's the second conference loss for Jamie Dixon's team in three games after previously carrying the nation's longest winning streak into league play.
So good on Kansas. Not only did the Jayhawks get a tough road win, they did so just four days after being handed a beatdown by Texas Tech in Lawrence. So now they're 2-1 in Big 12 play and get Iowa State and Kansas State at home before facing West Virginia -- one of the top challengers in the Big 12 to Kansas -- on Jan. 15.
Never have I ever seen a team lose on a layup after a turnover in the final seconds, but that was the exact sequence that doomed the Tigers on Saturday.
With Mizzou knotted up with Florida at 75 with under 15 seconds to play, Gators guard Chris Chiozza jumped in front of an ill-advised pass on the perimeter and took the steal to the other end for a layup that sealed the game as time was expiring. An incredible sequence you almost never see at any level of hoops.
How impressive has Clemson been this season? The Tigers moved to 14-1 on the season Saturday (and 3-0 in the ACC) by holding off Louisville in overtime 74-69.
So now Clemson -- a team picked to finish 13th in the league in the preseason -- is tied for first in the ACC with Virginia and Notre Dame, and has a decent schedule ahead. If the Tigers go, say, 12-6 in league play, they'll be a single-digit seed in March. As things stand now, Jerry Palm has them as a 5 seed -- with plenty of room to build on a budding résumé.
Butler stole the show last weekend by dumping No. 1-ranked Villanova in convincing fashion, but the Bulldogs have dropped two straight since -- including a tight 90-87 setback to Seton Hall on Saturday.
The good thing for coach LaVall Jordan is that his team built plenty of cushion after topping 'Nova, but the bad news is that losses to Xavier and Seton Hall this week are missed opportunities to improve the NCAA Tournament résumé in early January. The bad thing, though, is that the next three on the schedule -- at Creighton, against Marquette, and at Providence -- look pretty daunting.
Winner: Texas Tech
While No. 14 Arizona and No. 5 Xavier suffered losses as favorites on Saturday, Texas Tech -- fresh off an upset of Kansas in Lawrence -- took care of business by downing Kansas State to complete the sweep of the Kansas schools.
The Red Raiders did so by downing the Wildcats 74-58 at home, improving to 3-0 in Big 12 play and 14-1 on the season. Chris Beard's team, in a week's span, has gone from intriguing to legitimate threat to end KU's Big 12 title streak.
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