Saturday’s Top 25: Gonzaga beats Saint Mary’s

Associated Press

Moraga, Calif. — No. 1 Gonzaga is generating plenty of debate in the college basketball world about whether the Bulldogs can finish the regular season undefeated, deserve the No. 1 overall NCAA seed or can make a Final Four run.

Just don’t expect the Gonzaga players to join that discussion. They just want to take care of business.

Przemek Karnowski scored 19 points and the Bulldogs survived their toughest remaining obstacle to an undefeated regular season by beating No. 20 Saint Mary’s 74-64 on Saturday night.

“We’re not thinking about all that,” forward Johnathan Williams said. “We’re thinking about getting better each and every week because if we keep getting better, nobody can stop us.”

No one has really come close all year with the Bulldogs (26-0, 14-0 West Coast Conference) having trailed in the second half in just two games after winning their 18th straight by double-digits to complete a sweep of the season series against their fiercest conference rival.

The trip to Saint Mary’s (22-3, 12-2) was viewed as the last true test for Gonzaga before the postseason begins. The Bulldogs were seeded fourth overall in preliminary rankings for the NCAA Tournament released earlier Saturday and can ill afford a slip-up if they want to be assured of being a top seed in a region next month.

Jock Landale scored 24 points despite being limited by foul trouble to lead the way for the Gaels, who couldn’t get enough perimeter help for their big man to stay with the Bulldogs. Saint Mary’s made just 4 of 15 3-point attempts.

The scene at overflowing McKeon Pavilion was electric for the first visit by the No. 1 team since Bill Russell and San Francisco came to Moraga in 1955. ESPN’s “GameDay” show was on hand and fans packed the aisles for the standing-room only crowd.

It was a first half of runs with the teams trading 9-0 spurts early before Gonzaga broke things open with a 17-2 stretch late in the half.

“There was a lot of hype about this game,” Karnowski said. “We knew we had to come here and play aggressive.”

The Gaels then got the final six points from Landale to cut the deficit to 40-31 at the break. But Saint Mary’s never got closer than five points in the second half as Gonzaga answered every charge.

“We weren’t happy with the start,” Gaels guard Joe Rahon said. “We were able to fight back, fight back, fight back every time they tried to push out a little bit but couldn’t get back that last time.”

No. 2 Villanova 73, (at) No. 24 Xavier 57: Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo scored 17 points each in Villanova’s balanced offense, and the Wildcats led most of the way against Xavier, which suffered another significant injury.

Villanova (24-2, 11-2) won a matchup of the Big East’s top two teams at the Cintas Center, where the Wildcats suffered one of their five losses last season on the way to a national championship.

It was a costly game for Xavier (18-7, 8-4), which already is missing point guard Edmond Sumner to a torn ACL. Trevon Bluiett, who is second to Villanova’s Josh Hart for the Big East lead in scoring, appeared to aggravate his sprained right ankle midway through the first half and had to be helped off the court.

RaShid Gaston led the Musketeers with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

(At) No. 3 Kansas 80, Texas Tech 79: Josh Jackson had 31 points and 11 rebounds and made a free throw with 2.8 seconds left for Kansas.

After Kansas inbounded the ball with 5.4 seconds left, Jackson was fouled and missed the first free throw before making the winner.

Landen Lucas scored 13 points and Frank Mason III had 12 for Kansas (22-3, 10-2 Big 12).

Keenan Evans finished with 25 points and Niem Stevenson had a career-high 22 points and 10 rebounds for Texas Tech (16-9, 4-8). Zach Smith finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

(At) No. 4 Louisville 71, Miami 66: Quentin Snider returned from an injury to score 13 points, including a big 3-pointer with 41 seconds remaining, and Deng Adel and Donovan Mitchell added 18 points each for Louisville.

The Cardinals (20-5, 8-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) had to fight back from a 14-point first-half deficit and finally drew even on Mitchell’s 3 with 6:12 left, part of a 13-0 run for a 61-53 lead. Louisville’s surge included Adel’s four-point play.

Miami rallied to tie it at 61 with 1:56 left before Snider made two free throws and then the long 3 as he returned from a six-game absence with a hip injury.

Ja’Quan Newton had 15 points for the Hurricanes (16-8, 6-6), who had won four of five.

No. 5 Oregon 81, (at) Southern California 70: Dillon Brooks scored 21 points before fouling out, Tyler Dorsey added 19 and Oregon beat Southern California for the 14th straight time.

The Ducks (22-4, 11-2 Pac-12) salvaged a split in Los Angeles after losing at 10th-ranked UCLA.

Oregon’s winning streak is its longest ever against the Trojans and the Ducks’ longest winning streak against any Pac-12 opponent.

Chimezie Metu scored 16 points, and Bennie Boatwright and Elijah Stewart had 15 points each for USC (21-5, 8-5).

(At) No. 6 Baylor 70, TCU 52: Johnathan Motley had 25 points on 12-of-15 shooting for Baylor.

Baylor (22-3, 9-3 Big 12) never trailed in winning its 11th straight game in the series since the former Southwest Conference rivals were reunited in the Big 12 when TCU moved into the power league four years ago.

Manu Lecomte added 17 points for the Bears, and King McClure scored all 13 of his before halftime.

Jaylen Fisher had 18 points for TCU (17-8, 6-6) while Kenrich Williams had 10.

(At) No. 9 Arizona 62, California 57: Kobi Simmons scored 13 points, Dusan Ristic added 12 and Arizona stretched its home winning streak to 20 games.

Arizona (23-3, 12-1 Pac-12) learned earlier Saturday that it is currently a No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region after the NCAA Tournament selection committee released its preliminary rankings.

Kadeem Allen added 11 points and Arizona held Cal’s Ivan Raab to four points and four rebounds.

Jabari Bird led Cal (18-7, 9-4) with 19 points.

(At) No. 13 West Virginia 85, Kansas St. 66: Jevon Carter had 19 points and nine rebounds to lead West Virginia.

West Virginia (20-5, 8-4 Big 12) struggled at the start, making two of its first eight shots from the field over the first 4 minutes, but the Mountaineers then went on a 12-1 run to take the lead.

Kansas State rallied to tie the game at 34 at halftime.

After a 3-pointer by Xavier Sneed early in the second half, the Wildcats (16-9, 5-7) went on a cold snap from the field that lasted over 6 minutes.

Wesley Iwundu led five Wildcats in double figures with 14 points.

(At) Notre Dame 84, No. 14 Florida State 72: Bonzie Colson scored a career-high 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to help Notre Dame avenge a January loss to Florida State.

After snapping a four-game losing streak against Wake Forest, the Fighting Irish have won two straight to remain in the hunt for the top-four finish in the Atlantic Coast Conferece and a double-bye in the league’s postseason tournament.

Matt Farrell added 15 points and nine assists for Notre Dame (19-7, 8-5), and Steve Vasturia had 15 points and seven rebounds. Terrance Mann led Florida State (21-5, 9-4) with 15 points, and Dwayne Bacon and Trent Forrest each had 12.

No. 15 Kentucky 67, (at) Alabama 58: Isaiah Briscoe had 11 points, 11 rebounds and four assists to help Kentucky weather one of its lowest scoring outputs.

The Wildcats (20-5, 10-2 Southeastern Conference), fresh from a shootout win over LSU, found a way to win at a much different tempo after dropping three of their last five games.

Malik Monk added 17 points against the Crimson Tide (14-10, 7-5), which was coming off a quadruple-overtime road upset of No. 19 South Carolina.

Braxton Key led Alabama with 21 points.

(At) No. 17 Florida 71, Texas A&M 62: Justin Leon scored 18 points, and Canyon Barry added 12 for Florida.

John Egbunu notched his first double-double of the season, finishing with 11 points and 10 rebounds, as the Gators (20-5, 10-2 Southeastern Conference) won their sixth consecutive game.

Robert Williams led the Aggies (13-11, 5-7) with 18 points and 12 rebounds, the freshman’s seventh double-double of the season.

(At) No. 18 Duke 64, Clemson 62: Luke Kennard scored 25 points for Duke.

Playing less than 48 hours after an emotion-draining victory over No. 8 North Carolina on Thursday night, the Blue Devils (20-5, 8-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) blew a 14-point lead in the second half and needed a stop at the buzzer to seal their fifth straight victory.

Shelton Mitchell had a career-high 23 points and Elijah Thomas finished with 15 for the Tigers (13-11, 3-9), who have lost three straight and haven’t won at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995.

No. 19 South Carolina 77, (at) Mississippi St. 73: Sindarius Thornwell scored 28 points, Chris Silva added 15 and South Carolina made a late surge.

The Gamecocks (20-5, 9-3 Southeastern Conference) bounced back from a 90-86, four-overtime loss to Alabama on Tuesday. This game was close and hard-fought, too: Mississippi State led 64-63 with 5:17 remaining, but the Gamecocks scored the next nine points to pull away for the road win.

Tyson Carter had a career-high 22 points for Mississippi State (14-10, 5-7).

(At) Providence 71, No. 22 Butler 65: Alpha Diallo scored 15 points and Kyron Cartwright had 14 for Providence.

Nate Fowler scored a career-high 19 points and Kamar Baldwin had 11 rebounds for Butler, which has lost three of four. Fowler made his first seven shots to make up for poor shooting by the rest of the Bulldogs (19-6, 8-5 Big East).

It was 61-60 Friars (15-11, 5-8) when they scored the next eight points — including Diallo’s free throws when Butler coach Chris Holtmann was whistled for a technical.

No. 23 Creighton 93, (at) DePaul 58: Toby Hegner set a season high with 14 points and matched one with four 3-pointers and Marcus Foster scored 13 points for Creighton.

The Bluejays (21-4, 8-4 Big East) shot a season-high 60.7 percent and nailed 13 of 22 3-pointers against the last-place Blue Demons (8-17, 1-11).

DePaul dropped its eighth straight even though Chris Harrison-Docks scored 15 points.