For the first time since March 2020, the Associated Press released a Top 25 men’s basketball poll featuring someone other than Gonzaga at the No. 1 spot.
After spending 20 consecutive weeks at the top of the AP Top 25, a run that dates back to March 18, 2020, the Bulldogs dropped two places to No. 3 after losing 84-81 to Duke last Friday in a riveting game played at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The Blue Devils, previously ranked fifth, overtook Gonzaga for No. 1, and unbeaten Purdue also hopped the Bulldogs to check in at No. 2. After edging the Bulldogs in Vegas, Duke received 51 of the first-place votes with Purdue collecting nine more and Gonzaga getting one.
Rounding out the top 10 were No. 4 Baylor, No. 5 UCLA, No. 6 Villanova, No. 7 Texas, No. 8 Kansas, No. 9 Kentucky and No. 10 Arkansas. The Bruins dropped three spots after losing 83-63 to Gonzaga in Tuesday’s Final Four rematch, also played in Las Vegas.
Gonzaga could’ve played a top-10 opponent for the fourth time this season, but Alabama, the Bulldogs’ foe at the Battle in Seattle this Saturday, tumbled six places to No. 16 in the AP poll after absorbing its first loss of the year to Iona.
Meanwhile, the West Coast Conference continues to gain momentum, with BYU rising to No. 12 in the AP Top 25. It’s the highest the Cougars (6-0) have ever been in the poll before Jan. 12. San Francisco (7-0) received seven Top 25 votes after collecting one vote a week earlier.
The Texas Tech team Gonzaga will see less than two weeks from now received 34 votes in this week’s Top 25. The Red Raiders are still unbeaten at 6-0 but have yet to play an opponent ranked inside the top 200 of Ken Pomeroy’s ratings.
Arizona, coached by former Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd, jumped six spots to No. 17 after routing Sacramento State 105-59 and improving to 6-0 on the season.
Gonzaga’s reign at the top of the AP poll ended after the program suffered its first regular season loss since Feb. 22, 2020, at No. 23 BYU. By slipping only a few spots, the Bulldogs were able to extend other streaks pertaining to the weekly poll.
They still have the longest active streak in the AP poll at 99 consecutive weeks, and they’ve spent 62 straight weeks in the top 10, as well as 31 straight weeks in the top 5.
Nembhard becomes second Zag to reach 1,000-point milestone in 2021-22
Most of the production came in a Florida uniform, but Andrew Nembhard hit a significant career milestone Monday night while wearing Gonzaga’s logo across his chest.
Needing only six points to reach 1,000 for his career, Nembhard drove to the basket for consecutive layups in the second half to become the 48th player to hit the milestone while at Gonzaga. For good measure, Nembhard got to the basket on a third consecutive possession to score Nos. 1,001 and 1,002, helping steady a sluggish GU offense against Tarleton State.
Teammate Drew Timme joined Gonzaga’s 1,000-point club earlier in the season, achieving the point total midway through a 25-point outing against Bellarmine on Nov. 19.
Nembhard, the senior point guard who transferred to Gonzaga after spending his first two seasons at Florida, scored the first 636 points of his career with the Gators and notched his 364th with the Bulldogs to reach the 1,000-point marker.
Nembhard scored 289 during his freshman season in Gainsville and added 347 more as a sophomore. The Ontario native received an unexpected waiver from the NCAA, allowing him to play for the Zags in 2020-21, and Nembhard scored 293 points as a junior helping Gonzaga reach the national championship game. Through eight contests this season, GU’s starting point guard has averaged just over nine pints per game.
In Gonzaga’s 83-63 win over UCLA, Nembhard scored a game-high and season-high 24 points, falling one point shy of matching his career-high – accomplished twice while at Florida.
Perry ruled out of Tarleton State game with back spasms
Kaden Perry was helped off the court during pregame warmups and Gonzaga’s freshman forward was officially ruled out of Monday’s game against Tarleton State with back spasms, a school official told The Spokesman-Review prior to tipoff.
Perry was working individually with a team manager on post moves nearly an hour and a half before the game when he limped off the floor with the help of teammate Ben Gregg and a manager.
The first-year player eventually returned to GU’s bench but didn’t go through pregame warmups. Perry left the court again and came back to the bench after the national anthem.
Perry’s senior season at Battle Ground High School was cut short when the four-star recruit was sidelined with herniated discs in his back. Perry was still recovering from the injury when he arrived on Gonzaga’s campus over the summer but was fully cleared to play for the Bulldogs before Kraziness in the Kennel.
It’s unclear if the herniated discs Perry suffered in the spring and the back spasms that kept him out Monday are related injuries.
Perry’s played in six of Gonzaga’s first seven games off the bench, missing only a home win over fifth-ranked Texas. He played a season-high 12 minutes in the Bulldogs’ game Nov. 22 against Central Michigan, making all three of his shots from the field to finish with six points and four rebounds.
For the season, Perry is averaging 2.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 7.0 minutes per game.
Holmgren wins third consecutive WCC Freshman of Week award
For at least seven more days, the West Coast Conference’s Freshman of the Week award will stay in Spokane.
After claiming the award the first two weeks of the 2021-22 season, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren won it for a third time after leading the Bulldogs in scoring during their week-long stay in Las Vegas.
Holmgren scored 50 points and led Gonzaga with 16.7 points per game against Central Michigan, No. 2 UCLA and No. 5 Duke. The 7-footer from Minneapolis shot 21 of 30 from the field and 4 of 11 from three-point range. He’s eighth in the country with a field goal percentage of 69.1%.
During the three-game stretch, Holmgren also had 18 rebounds and blocked 10 shots. He currently ranks second in the country with 26 blocks and is eighth at 3.71 blocks per game.
In a 53-point win over Central Michigan, Holmgren scored 19 points to go with five rebounds, three blocks and two assists. He scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and notched one block in GU’s 83-63 win over UCLA, then posted 16 points with seven rebounds and three blocks in Friday’s loss to Duke and Paolo Banchero.
Holmgren is averaging 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.7 blocks and 2.6 assists in seven games this season.
Saint Mary’s forward Dan Fotu earned WCC Player of the Week honors after helping lead the Gaels to wins over Notre Dame and Oregon .
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.