SPOKANE – Filip Petrusev contributed 24 points and nine rebounds to help No. 2 Gonzaga beat Eastern Washington 112-77 on Saturday, clearing a path for the Zags to become the sixth top-ranked men’s team in the nation so far this season.
No. 1 Kansas lost to No. 18 Villanova 56-55 earlier Saturday. That gives Gonzaga a chance at attaining the top spot when the poll is released Monday. Gonzaga has reached No. 1 several times in recent years, including twice last season.
“I don’t think they should do polls until March,” Zags coach Mark Few said. “It’s an effort in futility.”
Admon Gilder scored 22 points and Ryan Woolridge added 15 for Gonzaga (13-1), which has won five straight games since falling to Michigan in the title game of the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Zags have won 30 straight home games, the longest streak in the nation.
Jacob Davison scored 17 points and Tyler Kidd — a graduate of O’Dea High in Seattle — added 16 for Eastern Washington (7-4), which came in ranked first in the nation in scoring among NCAA Division I teams at 90.7 points per game. But the Eagles could not handle Gonzaga’s size.
With the score tied at 6, Gonzaga went on an 23-3 run early in the first for a 29-9 lead.
Gonzaga led 64-33 at halftime, after holding Eastern Washington to 35.5% shooting and dominating the rebounding 30-13.
For the game, the Zags outscored the Eagles 30-13 from the free-throw line.
“We weren’t ready from the start,” Eastern coach Shantay Legans said. “Our game plan didn’t work tonight.”
The Eagles are 1-28 in games against ranked opponents. This was their first game against Gonzaga since 2011.
PHILADELPHIA – Jermaine Samuels made a three-pointer with 20.5 seconds left in Villanova’s victory over visiting Kansas.
Last week, the Jayhawks (9-2) had moved up one spot to become the fifth team to top the poll this season. It is the first time the AP poll has had five schools at No. 1 before New Year’s Day; Gonzaga would be the sixth.
“It’s just one of those years,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “There just isn’t one team that’s dominant.”
Samuels scored 15 points for Villanova (9-2), which was a two-point underdog.
“The reason why number one lost today is because they played a team that’s really good in their building,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I don’t think it had anything to do with what anybody is ranked.”
No. 5 Ohio St. wins
LAS VEGAS – D.J. Carton scored 13 points, Kaleb Wesson added 12 before fouling out and No. 5 Ohio State outlasted No. 6 Kentucky 71-65 in the CBS Sports Classic.
The Buckeyes (11-1) played with Duane Washington Jr., their second-leading scorer, limited to eight minutes because of a rib injury and had a hard time shaking Kentucky (8-3) in a physical game.
• Malachi Flynn, a transfer from Washington State, scored 16 points and No. 20 San Diego State remained one of the nation’s four unbeaten NCAA Division I men’s teams with an 80-52 victory over Utah in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Flynn played high-school ball at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma.
Yanni Wetzell and Nathan Mensah added 14 points apiece for the Aztecs (12-0), who built a 15-2 lead.
Utah (9-3) which beat Kentucky on Wednesday, shot a season-low 31.2%.
San Diego State, Auburn, Duquesne and Liberty are the nation’s unbeaten teams.