Duke stays No. 1 as Houston moves into AP poll
Duke's runaway win over Texas kept the Blue Devils a runaway No. 1 in The Associated Press' men's college basketball poll on Monday.
The next three places in the Top 25 were Big East schools Connecticut, Villanova and Louisville. The only newcomer to the poll was Houston, ranked for the first time in almost 13 years.
Duke (9-0) beat Texas 97-66 on Saturday, the third-biggest margin ever in a 1-vs.-2 matchup. The Blue Devils received 66 first-place votes, 13 more than last week, and 1,793 points from the national media panel.
Houston (4-1) moved into the rankings at No. 25 a week after the Cougars beat then-No. 25 LSU 84-83 and then-No. 15 Arizona 69-65. Houston was ranked 25th in the Jan. 18, 1993 poll. The last time the Cougars were ranked for more than one week was the 1983-84 season, when they were in the top eight all season and climbed as high as No. 2.
"Being ranked is important for recruiting and credibility and later on when they pick teams in March, the committee tends to look at that as some sort of barometer," Houston coach Tom Penders said Monday. "It's a sleeping giant here. It's been down since Guy Lewis retired in 1986, but it's a tradition-rich school with five Final Fours and banners all over the place."
This is the 172nd consecutive time Duke has been ranked, tied for the second-longest run in the history of the AP poll which started in the 1948-49 season. UCLA holds the record at 221 consecutive polls, from the preseason of 1966-67 through Jan. 8, 1980. North Carolina also was also in 172 consecutive polls, from the preseason voting of 1990-91 through Jan. 17, 2000.
Kentucky has the second-longest current streak at 85 polls, a run that started on Feb. 12, 2001.
Connecticut, Villanova and Louisville moved up one place apiece with Texas' drop to sixth. It's the first time one league had teams ranked that high since last season, when the Atlantic Coast Conference had Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and North Carolina in those same positions in the preseason poll and the first Top 25 of the regular season.
Connecticut (7-0) had five first-place votes, four fewer than last week, and 1,703 points. Villanova (6-0) again received the only other first-place vote.
Memphis moved up two places to fifth, its highest ranking since it was No. 3 in January 1996, and was followed by Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Illinois and Gonzaga.
Washington was 11th and was followed by Michigan State, Boston College, UCLA, George Washington, Wake Forest, Maryland, Indiana, North Carolina and Nevada.
The last five ranked teams were North Carolina State, Iowa, Kentucky, Arizona and Houston.
The Cougars, who lost 62-61 to Virginia Commonwealth in the second game of the season, bounced back with the wins over ranked teams.
"Rather than get giddy after beating LSU, which is an unbelievably talented team, the guys immediately turned their focus on Arizona and that final score wasn't indicative of the margin of that game," Penders said. "This is best defensive team I've ever had. They really get after it. These are very athletic, quick long-armed kids who pressure all over."
Houston's appearance is a boost for Conference USA as it joins Memphis in the Top 25 the first season after Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette, DePaul and South Florida left for the Big East.
"I think it's huge for the league," Penders said. "We still feel we're still at least a three-bid league."
Alabama (4-3) dropped out from 22nd following losses last week to Notre Dame and Temple. The Crimson Tide had been ranked every week since the preseason poll of 2004-05.
Five schools -- George Washington, Wake Forest, Maryland, North Carolina and North Carolina State -- shared the week's biggest jump in the poll at four places.
Iowa (7-3) had the week's biggest drop after losing to instate rivals Northern Iowa and Iowa State. The Hawkeyes, who fell from 12th to 22nd, will be without guard Jeff Horner, who hurt his knee against Northern Iowa, for at least the next month.
Kentucky (6-3), which lost 79-53 to Indiana on Saturday, dropped eight places to 23rd. Boston College (6-2), which lost to Michigan State and Maryland last week, fell seven places to 13th.
The only game involving two ranked teams this week will be Louisville at Kentucky on Saturday.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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