No. 7 Duke, No. 8 Kansas and No. 9 Michigan State all lost this week. Those defeats should clear the way for still-undefeated No. 10 Murray State (23-0, 11-0 Ohio Valley) to race further up the AP NCAA men’s basketball poll. Here’s what’s happening in college basketball this week:


Team on the Rise: Long Beach State

Long Beach State (17-6, 10-0 Big West) may still be two weeks away from an appearance in the AP Top 25, but the 49ers are off to their best conference start since 1973-74. Point guard Casper Ware is a contender for Big West Player of the Year honors, while community college transfer James Ennis has added scoring punch and athleticism to the Long Beach State attack. The next big test for the 49ers comes on Feb. 18 at No. 13 Creighton.

Team on the Decline: Seton Hall

Seton Hall (15-8, 4-7 Big East) has been short on quality wins this year, but the Pirates are now mired in a six-game losing skid that may have popped their NCAA tournament bubble. The schedule is more favorable for the remainder of the season for Seton Hall, but head coach Kevin Willard must get his team to shoot the ball better. The Pirates terrible shooting has made some lax Big East defenses seem more effective than they are.

Player on the Rise: Anthony Davis, Kentucky

Freshman forward Anthony Davis is a bonafide star for No. 1 Kentucky (23-1, 9-0 SEC), as the Wildcats have been nearly unbeatable this year. Davis scored 22 points, while recording eight rebounds and eight blocks in Kentucky’s 86-52 win over South Carolina on Saturday. Davis had 18 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks last Tuesday in a 69-44 rout of Tennessee. On the season, Davis is averaging 13.9 points, 10.1 boards and 4.8 blocks per game. Coach John Calipari’s biggest problem may be getting Davis to return for another year, instead of leaving for the NBA.

Player on the Decline: Mike Moser, UNLV

Though he’s still on pace for a monster year, Mike Moser suffered through a difficult week for No. 11 UNLV (21-4, 5-2 Mtn. West). The Rebels lost 68-66 to unranked Wyoming, as Moser was 4 of 12 from the floor with five turnovers. The sophomore forward had just 13 points against Colorado State last Wednesday, giving the ball up three times. When he’s in sync, Moser is a threat to record a double-double each night. UNLV needs him to rediscover that form before March arrives.

Coach on the Hot Seat: Ben Howland, UCLA

Fans of UCLA (13-10, 6-5 Pac-12) aren’t going to take time to remember that Ben Howland has taken the Bruins to three consecutive Final Four trips within the last 10 years. Especially not when the Bruins will likely miss the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years. Until Howland can get sophomore center Joshua Smith and co. to consistently win on the road, as they did in a 63-60 victory over Washington State on Sunday, UCLA will be a lesser-factor in the Pac-12 race. That’s never a good sign in Westwood.

Bizarre Stat of the Week: God’sgift Achiuwa, St. John’s

Known more for his name than his inconsistent game, God’sgift Achiuwa of St. John’s (10-13, 4-7 Big East) came off the bench to score 15 points in 18 minutes on 7-for-7 shooting in the Red Storm’s 87-81 win over DePaul on Wednesday.