Bay­lor re­mains No. 1 in AP Top 25

Antelope Valley Press - - SPORTS - By AARON BEARD

Bay­lor is No. 1 for a se­cond straight week in an AP Top 25 poll that had no ma­jor changes at the top, a rare bit of sta­bil­ity in a wildly un­pre­dictable sea­son. The Bears stayed well ahead of No. 2 Gon­zaga in Mon­day’s poll, part of an un­changed top seven for the first time this sea­son. The only change in the top 10 came with Vil­lanova mov­ing up a spot to No. 8 to swap po­si­tions with No. 9 Duke.

Bay­lor is No. 1 for a se­cond straight week in an AP Top 25 poll that had no ma­jor changes at the top, a rare bit of sta­bil­ity in a wildly un­pre­dictable sea­son.

The Bears stayed well ahead of No. 2 Gon­zaga in Mon­day’s poll, part of an un­changed top seven for the first time this sea­son. The only change in the top 10 came with Vil­lanova mov­ing up a spot to No. 8 to swap po­si­tions with No. 9 Duke. That comes in a sea­son that has seen seven dif­fer­ent teams reach No. 1 this sea­son, match­ing a record set dur­ing the 1982-83 sea­son.

Bay­lor (17-1) hopped over Gon­zaga last week to reach No. 1 for the se­cond time in pro­gram his­tory, though the Bears lasted only a week on top in its pre­vi­ous stint in Jan­uary 2017. This time, they earned 44 of 64 first-place votes to keep a firm hold on the top spot af­ter beat­ing Ok­la­homa and Florida last week.

“I think our staff’s done a bet­ter job this time with (avoid­ing) all the dis­trac­tions and more fo­cus on we want to be No. 1 at the end of the year,” coach Scott Drew said af­ter the win against the Soon­ers.

So far this sea­son, Michi­gan State, Ken­tucky, Duke, Louisville, Kansas and Gon­zaga have seen time at No. 1 be­fore Bay­lor made its jump to the top. The Zags stayed on top for four con­sec­u­tive weeks, but none of the other to­pranked teams lasted more than two weeks at No. 1.

THE TOP TIER Gon­zaga (21-1) earned 19 first-place votes to re­main ei­ther No. 1 or No. 2 in the poll since the mid­dle of De­cem­ber. Mark Few’s Zags have won 13 straight games since suf­fer­ing their only loss to MIchi­gan in the Bat­tle 4 At­lantis cham­pi­onship game in the Ba­hamas.

Kansas was third, fol­lowed by San Diego State — the last un­beaten team in Divi­sion I — and Florida State. Louisville, Day­ton, Vil­lanova, Duke and Se­ton Hall rounded out the top 10.

RIS­ING Hous­ton made the big­gest jump in a week that fea­tured only mod­est climbs or slides, ris­ing four spots to No. 21. No. 20 Colorado moved up three spots, while No. 12 West Vir­ginia, No. 13 Ken­tucky, No. 15 Mary­land and No. 19 Illi­nois each rose two spots.

In all, nine teams moved up in this week’s poll.

SLIDING Michi­gan State and But­ler had the big­gest slides of the week.

The Spar­tans — who started the year at No. 1 — fell three spots to No. 14 af­ter los­ing at In­di­ana. The Bull­dogs also fell three spots to No. 16 af­ter los­ing to Vil­lanova, the fi­nal loss in a three-game skid that had dropped But­ler from No. 5 two weeks ago.

The other falls were Duke, No. 17 Auburn and No. 25 Rut­gers inch­ing down one spot. WEL­COME (BACK) No. 22 LSU, No. 23 Wi­chita State and No. 24 Penn State were the week’s new additions, re-entering the poll af­ter ap­pear­ances ear­lier this sea­son. FAREWELL (FOR NOW)

Texas Tech (No. 18), Mem­phis (No. 20) and Ari­zona (No. 22) fell out of the rank­ings. The Tigers had been ranked all sea­son, while this is the se­cond time that the Red Raiders and Wild­cats have fallen out of the poll. CON­FER­ENCE WATCH

The Big Ten had more than dou­ble the num­ber of ranked teams than any other con­fer­ence with six. The At­lantic Coast, Big 12, Big East and South­east­ern con­fer­ences each had three. The Pac-12 and Amer­i­can Ath­letic con­fer­ences each had two as the only other leagues with mul­ti­ple ranked teams.

As­so­ci­ated Press

STEADY AT TOP — Bay­lor guard Devonte Ban­doo (2) cel­e­brates with team­mates on the bench af­ter scor­ing a 3-pointer dur­ing against Florida on Satur­day.

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