NCAA

Saint Mary's drops two spots in latest AP Top 25 poll

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USATSI

Saint Mary's drops two spots in latest AP Top 25 poll

A decades-long Baylor fan got emotional with coach Scott Drew after the Bears won their last game to remain one of two undefeated teams in the country.

The fan told Drew, "I thought we could go to a Final Four, but I never thought I'd see the day when Baylor was ranked No. 1."

That day came Monday, when the Bears (15-0) moved up a spot to the top of The Associated Press men's basketball poll for the first time.

Baylor wasn't even getting votes in the Top 25 poll at the start of the season two months ago, when its football team was in the midst of a 7-6 season overshadowed by scandal. Coach Art Briles was fired last May after an investigation that determined the school mishandled assault claims for years, including several against football players.

Now Baylor is the 59th school to be ranked No. 1 since the AP men's basketball poll started in the 1948-49 season. And the two-time national champion Lady Bears remain No. 2 in the women's poll.

"It's great seeing the excitement for Baylor University, and seeing the people that care so much about the university be able to smile and be excited," said Drew, who took over a tattered program when he arrived on the Waco campus in 2003.

Even new football coach Matt Rhule , hired last month, was in the front row of the student section for Saturday night's win over Oklahoma State.

"I think we're on that trajectory upward," said Mack Rhoades, who took over as Baylor's athletic director in August. "We realize that there's a lot of work ahead of us."

Baylor got 55 of 65 first-place votes to replace Villanova on top after the defending national champion lost to Butler, leaving the Bears and No. 5 Gonzaga (15-0) as the only unbeaten teams. The Wildcats (15-1) got one first-place vote and dropped to third.

The Big 12 is 1-2 in the poll, with Kansas (14-1) moving from third to second with eight first-place votes. UCLA (16-1) stayed fourth with the other first-place vote.

Kentucky, Duke, Creighton, Florida State and West Virginia rounded out the top 10, followed by North Carolina, Butler, Oregon, Louisville, Xavier, Arizona, Purdue, Wisconsin, Virginia and Notre Dame. The last ranked teams are Saint Mary's, Cincinnati, Florida and Minnesota, with Kansas State and Southern California tied for 25th.

Minnesota's first ranking in four seasons provides a Top 25 father-son duo with Kentucky coach Rick Pitino and the younger Richard Pitino with the Gophers. Kansas State was last ranked in 2013-14. Virginia Tech and Indiana, earlier as high as No. 3, dropped out of the poll.

When Drew got to Baylor in 2003, the program was ravaged by the murder of a player by a teammate and scandalized by the former coach who had tried to cover up NCAA violations in the aftermath. There were significant scholarship and recruiting restrictions, and even a season when the Bears were only allowed to play only their Big 12 Conference games.

They overcame all that, going to six NCAA Tournaments in the last nine seasons and twice getting to regional finals before losing to the eventual national champion.

"Everyone has goals and dreams, but few have the reality to see them achieved," Drew said. "When we were scouring the campus to fill out half the team with walk-ons, we dreamed of one day having a chance to be ranked No. 1, to win a national championship, go to a Final Four. ... Every step that we've achieved has laid the foundation for the next step."

Baylor went into this season having to replace three senior starters - 12th overall NBA draft pick Taurean Prince, plus the school's career rebounding leader and a two-year starting point guard. They also faced a difficult early schedule.

But the Bears beat then-No. 4 Oregon the first week, and won the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament beating No. 24 Michigan State and No. 10 Louisville - they trailed the Cardinals by 18 at halftime. By the first Saturday in December, when they beat seventh-ranked Xavier at home, they already had three wins over top 10 teams in the same season for the first time.

"Getting to the future part of it, we know no one remembers who's ranked No. 1 in January, it's who finished ranked No. 1, and in the Big 12 how tough a grind that is. That's the sobering moment," Drew said, with a laugh. "Your reward of being ranked No. 1 is to go to West Virginia and play."

The Bears' first game as the No. 1 team is Tuesday night at the 10th-ranked Mountaineers, who a year ago this week upset Kansas 74-63 in the same week the Jayhawks had moved into the top spot.

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

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AP

Limping Love leads Stanford to Big Game win over Cal

BOX SCORE

PALO ALTO — Bryce Love rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown despite missing most of the fourth quarter after aggravating an ankle injury, and No. 20 Stanford held off California 17-14 on Saturday to keep its Pac-12 title hopes alive.

K.J. Costello completed 17 of 26 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown, Ben Edwards made a key interception in the fourth quarter and Cameron Scarlett rushed for 49 yards on the final drive in place of Love to help the Cardinal (8-3, 7-2 Pac-12) milk the clock and win its eighth straight Big Game.

Stanford can earn a spot in the Pac-12 championship game against USC but needs some help.

The Cardinal can get there if No. 15 Washington State loses to No. 16 Washington next week. If the Cougars — who beat Stanford 24-21 on Nov. 4 — beat the Huskies, they get the nod because of the tiebreaker.

The nation's leading rusher going into the game, Love was held in check most of the game by Cal's defense and sat out the final 11:43 after re-injuring his ankle that has bothered him for the past month. He did stay on the field long enough to score a 57-yard touchdown — his 11th run of 50 yards or longer this season.

Scarlett, Love's primary backup all season, also came up big for Stanford. Scarlett rushed for 61 yards, the majority coming on the Cardinal's last drive that took the final 7:25. Scarlett's 2-yard gain on 4th-and-1 kept the drive going.

Patrick Laird ran for 153 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries while Ross Bowers passed for 182 yards and a touchdown for California. The Golden Bears (5-6, 2-6) need a win in their final game to become bowl eligible in coach Justin Wilcox's first season.

THE TAKEAWAY

California: The Bears made the Cardinal sweat and kept the game a lot closer than many thought possible. Wilcox's defense did a good job bottling up Love most of the game but couldn't stop Scarlett on the final drive which was huge. Still, there are plenty of positives for Cal to take out of this one.

Stanford: It wasn't the best game for David Shaw's team but the Cardinal gritted it out and held off a pesky Cal team that had plenty to play for. The conference title can still happen but before that Stanford has a pretty big game coming up against Notre Dame.

UP NEXT

California: Ends the regular season at UCLA on Saturday.

Stanford: The Cardinal stay home and will host No. 9 Notre Dame on Saturday. Stanford has won the last two and six of last eight against the Irish.

Former Cal running back suffers scary spine injury, taken to hospital

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AP

Former Cal running back suffers scary spine injury, taken to hospital

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The New Orleans Saints say running back Daniel Lasco has feelings in his extremities after suffering a spinal injury making a tackle on a kickoff return during today's game at Buffalo.

Lasco was loaded into an ambulance on the field and taken to a hospital.

He was hurt six minutes into the second quarter when he appeared to lower his head while tackling Bills returner Brandon Tate. 

Lasco played four seasons at the University of California, Berkeley. He gained 1,471 yards from scrimmage with 14 touchdowns his junior year. In 2015 as a senior, Lasco was limited to nine games and only totaled 355 yards. 

The Saints selected Lasco in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Associated Press contributed to this report