Thoughts on the AP poll: Duke climbs one spot to No. 21, ACC starts season strong

Freshman guard Jared McCain attacks the hoop against Charlotte.
Freshman guard Jared McCain attacks the hoop against Charlotte.

Following a bounce-back victory against Charlotte at home, Duke men’s basketball rose to No. 21 in the latest AP poll. The Blue Zone provides you with a summary of this week’s poll:

A get-right game for the Blue Devils

After dropping two contests on the road against Arkansas and Georgia Tech, Duke men’s basketball was in desperate need of a victory. To make matters worse, star sophomore guard Tyrese Proctor went down with a sprained ankle against the Yellow Jackets and may miss an extended amount of time. Fortunately for the Blue Devils, they got just what the doctor ordered in a home contest against Charlotte Saturday, improving to 6-3 in a comfortable win. With the victory, head coach Jon Scheyer improved to 21-1 at Cameron in his tenure, and Duke rose one spot to No. 21 in the AP poll.

The 80-56 victory saw guard Jared McCain break out, as the freshman scored 21 points on an impressive 7-for-13 shooting. Junior guard Jaylen Blakes also lit up the stat sheet off of the bench, scoring 15 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from the field. The Blue Devils shot well as a whole against the 49ers, making 55.6% of their three-point attempts and 78.6% of their free throws, compared to their season averages of 35.4% and 71.6%, respectively. In Proctor’s absence, Duke will hope to use Sunday’s performance as a catapult for their remaining slate in the calendar year, starting with another home contest Tuesday against Hofstra.

Two top-25 upsets Sunday

Facing Colorado, then-No. 15 Miami looked to make a statement under the bright lights Sunday at the Barclays Center for the NABC Brooklyn Showcase. However, in a contest that initially figured to be close, the Buffaloes blew the Hurricanes out of the water in a 27-point blowout victory. After eking out a one-point lead at the end of the first half, Colorado outscored Miami 53-27 in the second half, making an astonishing 70% of their field goals in the period. Buffaloes forward Tristan da Silva nearly earned a triple-double with a 22-point, 10-rebound and nine-assist performance. As a fallout, Miami fell to No. 24, while Colorado was the first team out of the poll this week.

Two hours later and over 1,600 miles away in College Station, Texas, an equally shocking result occurred. Then-No. 21 Texas A&M, favored against Memphis, lost at home, 81-75. Tigers forward David Jones lit up the stat sheet, scoring 29 points and garnering seven rebounds. Memphis shot a strong 40.9% from behind the arc, while the Aggies fared much worse, only cashing in on 6-of-33 three-point attempts. With the loss, Texas A&M dropped out of the poll.

Two ACC squads in the top-15

Known for its strong basketball programs, a number of ACC teams have impressed early on, with five teams in this week’s edition of the top 25. However, two stand above the rest so far — North Carolina and Clemson.

The Tar Heels seem to have shaken off the rust from last year’s struggles, sporting a 7-2 record thus far. In their sole contest last week, a Tuesday showing against national powerhouse UConn, North Carolina lost 87-76, despite strong efforts from senior guard RJ Davis and junior forward Harrison Ingram. Nevertheless, the loss didn’t do much to change voters’ minds, as the Tar Heels remained idle at ninth in the poll this week.

Meanwhile, Clemson has started out red-hot at an impressive 9-0, making it one of the few remaining undefeated teams this season. Against TCU Saturday, Clemson won comfortably in a team effort, 74-66, despite senior guard Chase Hunter shooting a puzzling 0-for-7 and committing four turnovers. Senior guard Joseph Girard III scored 21 points and dished out four assists, while reigning All-ACC Third-Teamer PJ Hall garnered 17 points and blocked three shots in just 23 minutes of play. Clemson skyrocketed 11 spots to No. 13, putting it on the map as the strongest team thus far in the conference in the early season.

Full rankings

1. Arizona

2. Kansas

3. Purdue

4. Houston

5. UConn

6. Baylor

7. Marquette

8. Creighton

9. North Carolina

10. Gonzaga

11. Oklahoma

12. Tennessee

13. Clemson

14. Kentucky

15. Florida Atlantic

16. Illinois

17. Colorado State

18. BYU

19. Texas

20. James Madison

21. Duke

22. Virginia

23. Wisconsin

24. Miami

25. Northwestern


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