Undefeated Auburn, San Diego St rise in Top 25; Butler No. 6
San Diego State survived a big test by beating a talented Utah State team on the road. Auburn kicked off the SEC season by winning at Mississippi State for the third time in its last 18 tries.
As the calendar flipped to a new year, the Aztecs and Tigers
are the only undefeated Division I teams left.
Both moved up in The Associated Press poll released Monday.
The top three spots remained unchanged. No. 1 Gonzaga received 54 firstplace votes from a 65-member media panel, with No. 2 Duke getting nine and No. 3 Kansas two. Baylor was No. 4.
Auburn (13-0) climbed three spots to No. 5, its highest ranking since reaching No. 2 in 1999-00. San Diego State (15-0) moved up six places to No. 7, the Aztecs’ highest ranking since hitting No. 5 six years ago.
The Tigers have a new cast of characters this season after a surprising Final Four run
a year ago. Even without Bryce Brown, Jared Harper and Chuma Okeke, Auburn has continued to find ways to win.
The Tigers blew through their nonconference schedule before opening SEC play at Humphrey Coliseum, where they’ve struggled since 2001. Auburn pulled away in the second half of the 80-68 victory and was led by J’Von McCormick, a bit player on last year’s team who scored 28 points.
“I think we’re a good team. I don’t think we’re a very good team yet and it’s not criticism,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said last week. “It’s just that I know how much we’ve got to do offensively, defensively to get there. We’re improving. We’ve got a long way to go.”
San Diego State is off to its best start since the Kawhi Leonard-led team in 2010-11 won its first 20 games. The Aztecs have been stingy defensively in their third season under Brian Dutcher, allowing teams to score 70 points just twice this season.
San Diego State went to Logan, Utah, on Saturday and ended Utah State’s 15game home winning streak with a 77-68 victory. The Aztecs are No. 1 in the NCAA’s NET rankings based on the nation’s best adjusted efficiency margin and a top-50 strength of schedule.
“They’re really, really good,” Utah State coach Craig Smith said.
Gonzaga guard Joel Ayayi (11) gestures after scoring a 3-pointer during the second half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against Pepperdine in Spokane, Wash., Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. Gonzaga won 75-70.