No. 1 KU falls to No. 18 Vil­lanova

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By Dan Gel­ston AP Sports Writer

PHILADEL­PHIA (AP) >> Jer­maine Sa­muels hit a win­ning 3-pointer with 20.5 sec­onds left to lead No. 18 Vil­lanova to a 56-55 vic­tory on Satur­day over Kansas, the lat­est No. 1 to fall this sea­son.

“I just shot it un­con­sciously,” Sa­muels said.

The Jay­hawks (9-2) had moved up one spot to be­come the fifth team to top the poll this sea­son. It is the first time the AP poll has had five dif­fer­ent No. 1s be­fore New Year’s Day; the record for an en­tire sea­son is seven, set in 1982-83.

Get ready for a sixth when the Top 25 is re­leased Mon­day.

“It’s just one of those years,” Vil­lanova coach Jay Wright said. “There just isn’t one team that’s dom­i­nant.”

Un­like Duke and Louisville, which lost to un­ranked teams, KU lost to a tra­di­tional na­tional power that has had its num­ber in re­cent sea­sons. The Wild­cats (92) fi­nally nudged ahead in a backand-forth game in the fi­nal sec­onds.

Sa­muels hit the 3 to make it 56-55 that had more than 20,000 fans at the Wells Fargo Cen­ter go­ing wild. But Collin Gille­spie was whis­tled for a foul and KU’s Devon Dot­son missed his ga­me­ty­ing free throw.

The Wild­cats threw the ball away with 11.2 sec­onds that gave KU pos­ses­sion and two looks at the bas­ket. Dot­son missed a con­tested layup on the fi­nal shot as the clock ex­pired and Kansas’ nine-game win­ning streak ended.

Sa­muels scored 15 points and Gille­spie had 12 for Vil­lanova.

Dot­son led KU with 15 points and Udoka Azubuike had 12 points and 11 re­bounds.

The game was full of long scor­ing lulls fol­lowed by rapid-fire bas­kets, but each team at last got rolling over the fi­nal eight min­utes. Sa­muels sank a 3 as the shot clock ex­pired for a 46-44 lead and Gille­spie made it 51-49 on a 3 that came on the third shot of the pos­ses­sion.

The crowd at Wells Fargo Cen­ter was treated to riv­et­ing game be­tween two schools that know how to win big games.

But the first half, how­ever, was a dud. Vil­lanova shot 29 per­cent and KU 37 per­cent, but the pal­try per­cent­ages were due more to two teams miss­ing open looks than any sort of de­fen­sive strug­gle.

The Wild­cats made it a game with their one surge that had a packed house roar­ing. Cole Swider hit a 3, Cole Swider scored a fast­break layup off a turnover and Justin Moore buried a 3, an 8-0 run that gave the Wild­cats a one­point lead.

But from there — as a say­ing in Philly col­lege bas­ket­ball goes — “bad hoops.” And this fit the def­i­ni­tion, missed 3s, missed layups — and so many missed op­por­tu­ni­ties for ei­ther team to pull away.

KU-Vil­lanova has turned into one of the bet­ter non­con­fer­ence ri­val­ries since the turn of the cen­tury. Kansas beat Vil­lanova in 2008 in the NCAA Tour­na­ment on the way to the na­tional ti­tle; Nova got the Jay­hawks back in 2016 and 2018 with tour­ney wins on its road to two na­tional cham­pi­onships. Vil­lanova’s 83-62 win over No. 2 and un­de­feated Kansas in 2005 was a defin­ing vic­tory for a pro­gram still try­ing to find a path to promi­nence. The Wild­cats would make the first of their 14 NCAA Tour­na­ment ap­pear­ances un­der Jay Wright. BIG PIC­TURE Kansas: The Jay­hawks lost start­ing guard Mar­cus Gar­rett (9.4 points) with 5:14 left in the first half. Gar­rett took a hard spill and needed as­sis­tance walk­ing off the court. He ap­peared to suf­fer an an­kle in­jury.

Vil­lanova: Robin­sonEarl is the son of for­mer KU for­ward Lester Earl. Earl played for the Jay­hawks from 1997-2000. UP NEXT Kansas plays Dec. 29 at Stan­ford.

Vil­lanova opens Big East play against Xavier on Dec. 30 at the Pavil­ion.

MATT SLOCUM - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Vil­lanova’s Sad­diq Bey, right, tries to knock the ball away from Kansas’ David Mc­Cor­mack dur­ing the se­cond half of an NCAA col­lege bas­ket­ball game, Satur­day, Dec. 21, 2019, in Philadel­phia.

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