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Gonzaga Basketball

Gonzaga slides eight spots to No. 14 in the Associated Press rankings

Gonzaga guard Malachi Smith operates in traffic during the second half of the Zags' 99-90 win over Pacific on Saturday in Stockton.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Gonzaga’s loss to Loyola Marymount sent the Zags tumbling eight spots to No. 14 in the latest Associated Press poll.

The Zags had the biggest slide of the week in the media poll, followed by Kansas, which dropped seven spots to No. 9 after a pair of Big 12 Conference losses.

Gonzaga has been ranked in 126 consecutive polls, the longest active streak in the nation. Houston is next at 57. Gonzaga (17-4, 6-1 West Coast Conference) rebounded from Thursday’s upset loss at home with a 99-90 road victory over Pacific.

It would have been interesting to see how high Gonzaga climbed if it had held on to a one-point lead in the final 15 seconds against Loyola Marymount with three top-five teams losing conference games. The Zags likely would have moved up at least two spots.

Purdue returned to the top spot for the second time this season following Houston’s loss to Temple. The Cougars slipped from first to third. Alabama moved up to No. 2, the program’s highest ranking since Dec. 2002.

Purdue received 39 first-place votes while the Crimson Tide had 23.

Tennessee is fourth, followed by Kansas State, Arizona, Virginia, UCLA, Kansas and Texas. Kansas State climbed eight spots after wins over Kansas and Texas Tech.

No. 22 Saint Mary’s (18-4, 7-0 WCC) entered the rankings for the first time since the Gaels were No. 18 in the final poll last season.

The Zags have matched up against four top 10 teams. Purdue (19-1) thumped the Zags 84-66 at the Phil Knight Legacy tournament in Portland. Gonzaga handled Alabama 100-90 in mid-December in Birmingham. Alabama has won its last eight games.

No. 10 Texas pounded GU 93-74 in Austin in November. Fourth-ranked Tennessee routed the Zags 99-80 in an October exhibition game in Frisco, Texas.

The Zags are one spot behind No. 13 Xavier, which lost to Gonzaga 88-84 at the PK holiday tournament. No. 17 Baylor edged Gonzaga 64-63 in early December in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Gonzaga has wins over Michigan State and Kentucky, both in the receiving votes category.

The Zags, who visit Portland on Saturday, are projected as a three seed by ESPN, Fox Sports and CBS Sports.

Gonzaga is 12th in the NET rankings, down three from last Monday. Saint Mary’s is No. 6. The Zags and Gaels clash Feb. 4 in Moraga, California, and Feb. 25 in Spokane.