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Duke stays No. 1 as Houston moves into AP poll

12/12/2005 - Duke Blue Devils

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.