Arizona not ranked in AP for first time in 312 polls

Updated: December 19, 2005, 8:30 PM ET
Associated Press

Only UCLA has had a better run than Duke in The Associated Press college basketball poll.

The Blue Devils were No. 1 for the seventh straight week on Monday. That extended their streak of consecutive poll appearances to 173 -- second only to UCLA's run of 221 from 1966 to 1980.

While Duke extended its streak -- which includes preseason rankings -- Arizona's regular-season run ended. The Wildcats dropped out of the Top 25 after being ranked in 312 polls.

The Wildcats (5-3) had been ranked in every poll since the start of the 1987-88 season except for the preseason polls in 1995 and 2002. Arizona was in 329 of 331 polls in that span, including 28 weeks at No. 1.

"Obviously we're disappointed," Wildcats coach Lute Olson said. "We feel like we've played a tough schedule to this point, and we'll just have to work on starting another streak."

The Wildcats' losses were to No. 2 Connecticut and No. 10 Michigan State in the EA Sports Maui Invitational and at Houston.

Arizona, which beat Utah 73-43 in its only game last week, played Sam Houston State on Monday night in the opening round of the Wildcats' Fiesta Bowl Classic.

Tennessee and Ohio State moved into the rankings for the first time this season, while Louisville and Texas dropped seven and nine places, respectively.

Duke (10-0), which beat Valparaiso 104-77 in its only game last week, received 66 first-place votes and 1,793 points from the national media panel. Connecticut (8-0) and Villanova (7-0) held second and third, receiving five and one No. 1 votes, respectively.

Memphis moved up one spot to replace Louisville at No. 4, and Florida jumped from seventh to fifth, passing Texas.

Louisville (6-1) lost 73-61 to Kentucky on Saturday and dropped to 11th, while the Longhorns (8-2) were beaten 95-78 by Tennessee in their first game since the 97-66 loss to Duke. Texas dropped from second to sixth after the first loss and to 15th after the second.

Illinois moved from ninth to No. 6 and was followed by Oklahoma, Gonzaga, Washington and Michigan State.

Following Louisville were UCLA, George Washington, Boston College, Texas, Maryland, North Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky and Nevada.

The last five ranked teams were North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Tennessee, Ohio State and Iowa.

Duke's run started with the preseason poll in 1996-97 and is one week longer than North Carolina's streak from the preseason voting of 1990-91 through Jan. 17, 2000. UCLA's record run went from the preseason poll of 1966-67 through Jan. 8, 1980. The AP started its poll in the 1948-49 season.

Kentucky has the second-longest current streak at 86 polls, a run that started on Feb. 12, 2001.

Tennessee (6-0) is ranked for the first time since late in the 2000-01 season. The Volunteers' victory at Texas certainly garnered national attention.

"We'll see whether it was lightning in a bottle or something we can build on," first-year Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said Monday. "The stars were aligned for us and Texas was still hung over from the game with Duke. That game was circled on our calendar all along as a big game and Texas has so many big games.

"For our players at this point, being ranked is a recognition of being off to a good start, but it's not how you start but how you finish."

Ohio State coach Thad Matta expressed a similar thought as the Buckeyes moved into the poll for the first time since the end of the 2001-02 season.

"Of course I want to be there at the end," Matta said Monday. "I do think with what this team and all these guys have been through it is truly amazing.

"Anything starting to shed positive light on our program is important to us. These players and this program have had a crazy couple of years."

The Buckeyes were kept out of the postseason in 2004-05 by a self-imposed ban over violations the school said were committed by former coach Jim O'Brien. A trial is under way with O'Brien suing the university for $3.5 million in back pay and benefits for what he says was an improper dismissal in June 2004.

Houston (4-2), which lost to South Alabama 66-62 on Saturday, dropped out from 25th. The Cougars were ranked for just one week, the same span they were in the poll last, in January 1993.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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