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Virginia men's basketball team falls to No. 23 in AP poll
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Virginia men's basketball team falls to No. 23 in AP poll

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Virginia Gonzaga Basketball

Virginia guard Kihei Clark brings the ball up court against Gonzaga during the first half on Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Virginia men’s basketball team fell to No. 23 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, which was released on Monday. The Cavaliers, who were ranked No. 16 in last week’s AP poll, also dropped in this week’s USA Today coaches poll, falling from No. 15 to No. 24.

After returning from a 10-day pause due to COVID-19 issues, UVa went 1-1 in its two games last week.

In their first game since Dec. 4, the Wahoos rolled to a 76-40 victory over William & Mary on Dec. 22. Following the 36-point win over the Tribe, Virginia was on the other end of a blowout on Saturday, falling 98-75 to No. 1 Gonzaga in Fort Worth, Texas.

“They really exposed some things that we have to go to work on and just try to shore up,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said after the Gonzaga loss. “That was discouraging, for sure.”

Gonzaga, which improved to 7-0 with the win over Virginia, remained No. 1 in both polls. The Bulldogs have four wins over top 25 teams this season.

Virginia was one of four ACC teams ranked in this week’s AP poll. Florida State (5-1) was ranked No. 18, while Duke (3-2) came in at No. 20. Virginia Tech (7-1) rounded out the ACC teams in the poll at No. 24.

North Carolina (5-3) fell out of the AP poll after a 79-76 loss to N.C. State last week. The Tar Heels were among the teams just outside the top 25 receiving votes, joining Clemson, Louisville and N.C. State.

The Cavaliers begin ACC play at Notre Dame on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Virginia then returns home to host Virginia Tech on Saturday at 4 p.m. Both games will air on ACC Network.

Following the lopsided loss to Gonzaga, Bennett is eager to see how his team responds in conference play this week.

‘This is now where you say, ‘All right, will we grow from it?’” Bennett said. “’Will we stay unified and come ready the next time?’”

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