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Drew Gordon’s Big Games May Bring New Mexico a Ranking – This Week in College Basketball

Carolina - Clemson
Streeter Lecka, Getty Images

It was not a good week for ranked teams from western states as No. 11 UNLV, No. 13 San Diego State and No. 21 St. Mary’s all suffered multiple defeats. Meanwhile, No. 1 Kentucky and No. 2 Syracuse continued to dominate their conferences. Here’s what’s happening in college basketball:

Team on the Rise: Temple Owls

Temple (21-5, 10-2 A-10) won its 10th straight game by beating Duquesne 78-58 on Saturday. The Owls lead the Atlantic 10 Conference and seem guaranteed to be ranked in this week’s new Associated Press Top 25. Coach Fran Dunphy’s team is led by Ramone Moore and Khalif Wyatt, who can both score and defend. Temple faces league and Philadelphia rivals LaSalle on Wednesday and St. Joseph’s on Saturday.

Team on the Decline: No. 13 San Diego State Aztecs

San Diego State (20-6, 6-4 Mountain West) was beaten 58-56 by Air Force on Saturday. The loss was the Aztecs’ third in-a-row, as the team dropped a 77-67 contest at home to New Mexico on Wednesday in addition to a 65-63 loss to UNLV last week. Aztecs’ coach Steve Fisher has just four regular season games remaining to get his team to improve its woeful shooting. The return of guard Jamaal Franklin, who missed the loss to Air Force with an ankle injury, will help solve that problem.

Player on the Rise: Drew Gordon, New Mexico Lobos

Drew Gordon scored a career-high 27 points and grabbed 20 rebounds as New Mexico (22-4, 8-2 Mountain West) routed No. 11 UNLV 65-45 on Saturday. Gordon had 17 points and 17 boards when the Lobos beat No. 13 San Diego State 77-67 on Wednesday. The two victories over ranked teams gave New Mexico seven straight wins. The streak almost assures the Mountain West Conference leaders of a ranking in the new Associated Press Top 25.

Player on the Decline: Jorden Page, No. 21 Saint Mary’s Gaels

Guard Jorden Page is not a key player in the offensive attack for No. 21 St. Mary’s (23-5, 12-2 WCC). However, Page must score more than the three points he had in the team’s 65-51 loss to No. 16 Murray State on Saturday and the five points he had in a 75-60 loss to Loyola Marymount on Wednesday. Page scored double-figures just once in his past seven games. With the recent losses, the Gaels are almost certain to fall out of the Top 25 this week.

Coach on the Hot Seat: Dave Rice, UNLV

Coach Dave Rice has plenty of talent at No. 11 UNLV (22-6, 6-4 Mountain West), but the Runnin’ Rebels were beaten by two unranked teams in consecutive games this week. The 101-97 overtime loss to TCU on Tuesday coupled with a 65-45 defeat to New Mexico on Saturday means the Rebels may be on the way out of the Top 25. UNLV went 4-for-17 from the field in the second half on Saturday and showed little fight to get back in the game. Rice has four regular season games left to get UNLV back to playing like a Top 10 team.

Bizarre Stat of the Week: No. 8 University of North Carolina

North Carolina (23-4, 10-2 ACC) has never lost a game to Clemson in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels went to 56-0 against the Tigers with a 74-52 victory on Saturday.

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