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AP basketball Top 25: Virginia shines after tough week while Kentucky falls twice in early tests

Virginia brought home a title on Sunday, just days after three football players were killed on campus in Charlottesville.

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After a rather slow start to the year, there was plenty of excitement last week in the college basketball world. That’s sure to continue, too, as a number of holiday tournaments kick off in the coming days.

Here’s everything you missed in Week 2 of the season, and the latest Associated Press poll.

Virginia jumps up after emotional championship run in Las Vegas

It was a tough week in Charlottesville, but Tony Bennett and Virginia picked up a pair of huge wins in Las Vegas.

First, just days after a mass shooting on campus killed three members of the Cavaliers football team, Virginia knocked off Baylor with a massive run to start the second half in its opening game at the Continental Tire Main Event. Then on Sunday, the Cavaliers beat Illinois 70-61 to win the four-team tournament at T-Mobile Arena and get to 4-0 on the season.

“It feels great in the moment, but more so now, we know what truly matters,” Bennett said after an emotional week, via The Associated Press. “When you have a momentary celebration like this, it enables you to enjoy it and it seems to matter, but in the big picture, it doesn’t.”

The championship run in Las Vegas jumped Virginia 11 spots in this week’s poll to No. 5. The Cavaliers will host Maryland-Eastern this week before matchups with Michigan and Florida State next week.

UCLA, on the other hand, struggled in what was its first true test this season. The Bruins, who entered the tournament at No. 8, dropped games to both Illinois and Baylor last weekend. They’ve fallen to No. 19 in this week’s poll.

Virginia beat Illinois and Baylor to win the Continental Tire Main Event tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Virginia beat Illinois and Baylor to win the Continental Tire Main Event tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Kentucky falls twice in first true tests of season

It was a rough week for John Calipari and Kentucky.

The Wildcats, who opened the season at No. 4, fell twice in their first real tests of the year.

While both losses came to very solid opponents, one of which happened in double overtime, it’s not a great start for a team with legitimate title aspirations.

First, Kentucky dropped a tight match with Michigan State in the Champions Classic, which marked star forward Oscar Tshiebwe’s debut. Then on Sunday night, the Wildcats fell to Gonzaga in Spokane, Washington. They looked awful in the first half of that game, too, shooting just 25% from the field and going 0-of-10 from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes.

The losses, which were split up by a blowout win over South Carolina State, led to Kentucky falling to No. 15 in this week’s poll.

Now the good news for Kentucky is that Tshiebwe has looked great. He had 22 points and 18 rebounds against the Spartans, and he put up 20 points with 15 rebounds against Gonzaga. While he undoubtedly needs help, Tshiebwe is already on his way to backing up his Naismith Award-winning campaign from last season.

Full AP Top 25

The full AP Top 25 poll from Monday, Nov. 21:

1. North Carolina (4-0)

2. Houston (5-0)

3. Kansas (4-0)

4. Texas (3-0)

5. Virginia (5-0)

6. Gonzaga (3-1)

7. Baylor (4-1)

8. Duke (3-1)

9. Arkansas (3-0)

10. Creighton (4-0)

11. Indiana (4-0)

12. Michigan State (3-1)

13. Auburn (4-0)

14. Arizona (3-0)

15. Kentucky (3-2)

16. Illinois (4-1)

17. San Diego State (3-0)

18. Alabama (4-0)

19. UCLA (3-2)

20. UConn (5-0)

21. Texas Tech (3-0)

22. Tennessee (2-1)

23. Maryland (5-0)

24. Purdue (3-0)

25. Iowa (3-0)

Others receiving votes: TCU 82, Saint Mary’s 59, Ohio State 56, Michigan 24, Xavier 22, Charleston 17, Toledo 16, Miami 10, Dayton 9, Villanova 7, Arizona State 5, Virginia Tech 5, Saint Louis 5, UNLV 5, Oregon 4, West Virginia 3, Texas A&M 2, Utah State 1, Penn State 1, Mississippi State 1

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