Bay­lor jumps Zags for poll’s 7th No. 1

Antelope Valley Press - - SPORTS - By DAVE SKRETTA

Bay­lor and Gon­zaga were the only two teams in the top five that took care of business last week. That doesn’t mean they didn’t move around, too. The Bears (15-1) leaped over the Bull­dogs and into the No. 1 spot in The As­so­ci­ated Press men’s col­lege bas­ket­ball poll on Mon­day, us­ing wins over Iowa State and Ok­la­homa State to give the Top 25 its sev­enth team on top this sea­son.

Bay­lor and Gon­zaga were the only two teams in the top five that took care of business last week.

That doesn’t mean they didn’t move around, too.

The Bears (15-1) leaped over the Bull­dogs and into the No. 1 spot in The As­so­ci­ated Press men’s col­lege bas­ket­ball poll on Mon­day, us­ing wins over Iowa State and Ok­la­homa State to give the Top 25 its sev­enth team on top this sea­son. That matches the record set in 1983 for the most No. 1s in the his­tory of the poll, which dates to the 1948-49 sea­son.

Gon­zaga (20-1) was merely a vic­tim of its con­fer­ence sched­ule. The Bull­dogs blew out Santa Clara and BYU, but just enough vot­ers con­sid­ered those wins to be less im­pres­sive than the Bears’ per­fect Big 12 start. Bay­lor re­ceived 33 first-place votes and had 1,591 points from the 65-mem­ber me­dia panel while Gon­zaga re­ceived 31 first-place votes for 1,588 points.

“It takes a team to win,” said Bay­lor coach Scott Drew, whose team also reached the top of the poll two years ago. “As a coach, you’re just really proud when dif­fer­ent peo­ple step up, es­pe­cially guys that have been work­ing hard.”

The rest of the top five looks a whole lot dif­fer­ent af­ter Duke, Auburn and But­ler all lost both of their games last week.

Kansas (14-3) rose three spots to No. 3 af­ter vic­to­ries over Ok­la­homa and Texas, the lat­ter re­quir­ing a big come­back in Austin. San Diego State (19-0) re­mained per­fect with wins over Fresno State and Ne­vada, and Florida State (16-2) barged into the fifth spot af­ter it beat reign­ing national cham­pion Vir­ginia and sur­vived over­time to best Mi­ami.

The Semi­noles haven’t lost since play­ing In­di­ana in the Big Ten-ACC Chal­lenge the first week of De­cem­ber.

Louisville, which tasted the top spot ear­lier this sea­son, jumped five spots to sixth af­ter beating Pitts­burgh in over­time and han­dling the Blue Devils. Day­ton was next, fol­lowed by Duke, Vil­lanova and Se­ton Hall to round out the top 10.

Duke also lost to Clem­son ear­lier in the week, send­ing coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team tum­bling five spots.

“We just have to get older,” he said af­ter the Blue Devils’ 79-73 loss to the Car­di­nals on Satur­day at Cameron In­door Sta­dium. “I’m really up on my team. It’s a long jour­ney. I’ve never told you that we’re great. It’s a process for us, play­ing th­ese two teams.

Get­ting beat, we have to learn from it and move on. It’s a long jour­ney.”

Krzyzewski’s team wasn’t alone in get­ting a tough les­son last week. Fourth-ranked Auburn fell all the way to No. 16 af­ter los­ing a pair of blowouts to Alabama and Florida, and fifth-ranked But­ler was bounced all the way to 13th af­ter the Bull­dogs fol­lowed up a loss to Se­ton Hall by get­ting soundly beaten by DePaul.

“It’s the time of the year when we should be try­ing to el­e­vate our play, and we’re not,” said Tigers coach Bruce Pearl, whose team had won its first 15 games. “Ob­vi­ously, there’s a pretty big price on our head be­ing ranked fourth in the coun­try. And so I think we have to re­spond to the step-up that we saw this week from both Alabama and Florida.”

Here’s a closer look at the other big news in an­other fresh Top 25:

RUT­GERS ON THE RISE

The Scar­let Knights bounced back from a loss to Illi­nois by beating In­di­ana and Min­nesota at home, run­ning their record at the RAC to 13-0 this sea­son — the best start in school his­tory. That was enough to get Rut­gers (14-4) into the poll at No. 24 for the first time since the fi­nal poll of the 1978-79 sea­son. And with Se­ton Hall at No. 10, the state of New Jersey has two teams ranked for the first time since the Pi­rates were joined by Prince­ton in the last poll of the 1990-91 sea­son.

OTHER NEW­COM­ERS Iowa, which has been in and out of the poll all sea­son, made the biggest jump back in at No. 19 af­ter its win over then-No. 19 Michi­gan. The Hawkeyes were joined by No. 22 Ari­zona — which beat a ranked team in Colorado — and No. 25 Hous­ton, which romped through SMU and then-No. 16 Wi­chita State last week.

ON THE WAY OUT The Shock­ers dropped all the way out af­ter los­ing to Hous­ton and Tem­ple. The Wolver­ines also fell out, along with Big Ten ri­val Ohio State and Creighton, whose one­week stay ended with a loss early last week to Ge­orge­town.

BUCKEYES BUM­MER No team has been fall­ing as steadily as Ohio State, which was 9-0, was ranked in the top five and re­ceived first-place votes just six weeks ago. The Buckeyes have lost six of their last nine games, and five of their last six, to com­plete their tumble from the poll. Their lone vic­tory in the last few weeks was against lowly Ne­braska.

NO. 1 IS LUCKY NO. 7 Bay­lor for­ward Tris­tan Clark (25) is guarded by Iowa State for­ward Ge­orge Con­ditt IV (4) dur­ing the sec­ond half on Wed­nes­day in Waco, Texas.

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