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Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s climb into top 12 prior to Saturday’s showdown

UPDATED: Mon., Feb. 5, 2018, 5:12 p.m.

Gonzaga players celebrates after beating BYU 68-60 on Saturday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga players celebrates after beating BYU 68-60 on Saturday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

It’ll be a top 12 showdown when Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s tangle in Moraga on Saturday night.

Both WCC powers gained two spots in the AP poll after posting 2-0 weeks.

Gonzaga (21-4, 11-1 WCC), which dug out wins over San Diego and BYU, moved to No. 12. The Gaels (23-2, 12-0), who crushed San Francisco and edged San Diego, are No. 11.

Saint Mary’s is stacking up program records with an 18-game winning streak, including a 74-71 win in Spokane, and its highest ranking. The Gaels were No. 12 early last season.

The Zags can’t devote all of their attention to the Gaels. Gonzaga visits Pacific, which shares third place with BYU, on Thursday while Saint Mary’s visits Loyola Marymount.

There was considerable reshuffling in the rankings but not at the top. Villanova, Virginia and Purdue held down the top three spots for the fourth consecutive week. Those three programs are a combined 67-4.

Michigan State and Xavier both moved up one spot to fourth and fifth, respectively. Michigan State and Purdue play Saturday in East Lansing, Michigan.

Cincinnati, Texas Tech, Auburn, Duke and Kansas rounded out the bottom half of the top 10. Duke slid five spots after falling to St. John’s, which is 0-11 in the Big East. Kansas suffered its fourth loss at home when it fell to Oklahoma State.

In the USA Today coaches’ poll, Gonzaga moved up one spot to 11, followed by Saint Mary’s at 12.

It was a pretty good week for the Zags in terms of the results of their non-conference opponents. Villanova, an 88-72 winner over the Zags, hasn’t lost since late December. Ohio State, drubbed by GU 86-59 at the PK80, moved up to AP No. 14 and trails Purdue by one game in the Big Ten standings.

Washington, a 97-70 loser to visiting GU in December, defeated then-No. 9 Arizona (now 13) and No. 25 Arizona State, knocking the Sun Devils out of the rankings.

Washington, which also won at Kansas and USC, is just outside the top 25. The Huskies (17-6, 7-3) are third in the Pac-12.

Creighton, despite losing starting center Martin Krampelj to a torn ACL, is hanging tough in the Big East. The Blue Jays, who lost 81-74 to Gonzaga, share third place with Butler.

Texas, which fell to GU in overtime at the PK80, knocked off No. 12 Oklahoma and sits in the middle of the pack in the rugged Big 12. Florida, a double-overtime winner over Gonzaga at the PK80, dropped out of the rankings following a home loss to Alabama.

Washington, Creighton, Texas and Florida are in the receiving votes category.

ESPN.com’s latest bracket projection lists Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s as six seeds.


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