Kentucky makes the wrong kind of history after latest AP poll

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In March 2014, Anthony Davis was in his second NBA season, Karl-Anthony Towns was a senior in high school and Kevin Knox was a high school freshman.

March 2014 also marked the last time that the Kentucky Wildcats were unranked.

Until today.

After back-to-back losses, Kentucky has dropped out of the latest AP Top 25 poll, which ends their 68-week stretch in which they were ranked. The Wildcats were ranked No. 18 in last week’s poll, but now they are in the “others receiving votes” category.

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The 68 weeks was the fourth longest active streak in the country, but was still more than 100 weeks short of the longest active streak. Kansas has been ranked in the AP Top 25 for 173 consecutive polls, dating back to the 2008-09 season.

Kentucky entered the season at No. 5 by the AP and then were ranked either No. 7 or No. 8 for the next six weeks. But they’ve gone 4-5 over the last month and have yet to defeat a ranked team this season.

They lost Tuesday to South Carolina, then had their 30-game home winning streak in the SEC snapped with a loss to Florida on Saturday.

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Despite the team’s recent struggles, coach John Calipari isn’t worried about his squad.

“We’re going to be fine,” Calipari told reporters. “We had some freshman mistakes [but] the ability to pass the ball to one another, the ability to really scramble defensively and do some good things — we’re going to be fine.

“I was worried after South Carolina. I’m not worried after this. We’ll be fine.”

Calipari’s been in this situation before. The last time UK fell out of the polls, they then went on a run that put them in the national championship game, which they lost to Connecticut in 2014.

Kentucky lost its top seven scorers from last season, but that kind of turnover is par for the course since Calipari’s been in charge. But this year’s incoming freshman class hasn’t lived up to expectations despite being the No. 2 overall recruiting class according to 247Sports.

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Maybe Calipari should just trade in his whistle for a uniform — after all, he looked like he was the best player on the court when he nailed a half-court shot prior to the South Carolina game.

Calipari was hoping the buzz of Zion Williamson announcing his college decision could, perhaps, increase morale around his team if he chose Kentucky. But that was wishful thinking. The South Carolina native had Kentucky on his short list of schools, but ultimately committed to Duke on Saturday night.

Speaking of Duke, they climbed one spot to No. 4 in the poll while Villanova, Virginia and Purdue are the top three in order. The Wildcats accumulated 63 of the 65 first-place votes in the AP poll and 31 of 32 votes in the Coaches poll.

This is the third straight poll that Villanova has been ranked No. 1. Since losing its only game of the season to Butler on Dec. 30, Villanova has won five straight with an average margin of victory of 18.6 points.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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