Duke proved on a national stage at the Champions Classic last week why so many voters had the Blue Devils atop their top-25 ballot before the season began.
Now even more voters have them there.
The Blue Devils, who beat then-No. 2 Michigan State 88-81 in Chicago, pulled in 54 of 65 first-place votes from a national media panel in the AP Top 25 released Monday. That was an increase of 20 first-place votes over the first regular-season poll released last week.
Arizona was the only other team to receive a No. 1 nod, getting 11 first-place votes and taking the Spartans' place at No. 2. Kansas moved up to third after topping then-No. 7 Kentucky in the other game at the Champions Classic, while Michigan State and Villanova rounded out the top five.
The Blue Devils got 37 points from Grayson Allen in knocking off the Spartans in the Champions Classic, an impressive performance against one of the toughest teams on their schedule. It certainly left a bigger impression on voters than a ragged 78-61 victory over Southern, arguably the weakest opponent on their schedule, that included 15 turnovers and 4-for-20 shooting from beyond the arc.
"We've got to take every game seriously," the Blue Devils' Wendell Carter Jr. said.
Well, maybe not this week. Duke faces Furman on Monday night and Portland State on Thursday.
Arizona has won each of its first three games by at least 25 points but gets a stiffer test against undefeated NC State on Wednesday night, while the Jayhawks cruised to No. 3 thanks to their win over the Wildcats and a laugher over South Dakota State.
Kentucky continued its slow slide, but not so much because of its nip-and-tuck loss to Kansas on a neutral floor. Rather the Wildcats sleepwalked through a 78-61 victory over East Tennessee State on Friday night in what was a six-point game at halftime.
"I knew we would have a letdown after Kansas," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "But it just shows, they're just -- they're not mature enough to figure all this out and that every game matters and you're being evaluated personally and us as a team every game we play."