The student news site of Houston Community College

The Egalitarian

The student news site of Houston Community College

The Egalitarian

The student news site of Houston Community College

The Egalitarian

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Houston rises to No. 1 in AP Top 25 ahead of Purdue, UConn; South Florida makes its rankings debut

Houston+guard+Jamal+Shead+%281%29+works+the+floor+against+Baylor+guard+Jayden+Nunn+%282%29+during+the+second+half+of+an+NCAA+college+basketball+game%2C+Saturday%2C+Feb.+24%2C+2024+in+Waco%2C+Texas.+Houston+won+82-76+in+overtime.+
AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Houston guard Jamal Shead (1) works the floor against Baylor guard Jayden Nunn (2) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024 in Waco, Texas. Houston won 82-76 in overtime.

Now it is Houston’s turn at the top of The Associated Press Top 25 men’s college basketball poll.

The Cougars moved to No. 1 for the first time this season in Monday’s latest poll, climbing one spot to end the six-week stay of reigning national champion Connecticut. Houston (24-3) became the fifth team to hold the top spot this season.

Purdue rose one spot to No. 2, while the Huskies’ loss to Creighton dropped them to third in a poll that included South Florida cracking the rankings for the first time in program history.

Kelvin Sampson’s Cougars spent seven weeks at No. 1 last year, their first stint at the top since the “Phi Slama Jama” days during the 1982-83 season with a team featuring future NBA greats like Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Now they’re back, playing in a new conference home (the Big 12) with the same defense-first formula that has Houston leading the country in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency (87.1 points allowed per 100 possessions).

“Our guys are tough,” Sampson said after an overtime win at Baylor. “We’re not always pretty. But last time I checked this is not a beauty contest.”

THE TOP TIER

The top 10 featured the same universe of teams, though in reshuffled order.

Tennessee moved up a spot to No. 4 for its highest ranking of the season, followed by Marquette. Arizona, Kansas, Iowa State, North Carolina and Duke rounded out the top 10.

RISING AND FALLING

While there was plenty of movement, there were no major leaps among the week’s 12 rising teams. No. 11 Auburn and No. 12 Creighton had the biggest jumps of a modest three spots, while four others teams rose two positions.

No. 21 Dayton took the biggest tumble of nine teams that dropped, falling five spots after a loss at George Mason. No. 15 Baylor fell four spots after losing at BYU before falling to Houston.

No. 24 Florida was the only team to hold its position from last week.

WELCOME ABOARD

South Florida has been a surprise in its first season under Amir Abdur-Rahim, who led a remarkable turnaround at Kennesaw State from a one-win season to an NCAA Tournament bid last year. Now he’s helped the Bulls (21-5) go from being picked ninth in the American Athletic Conference to their first-ever ranking at No. 25.

The other two additions are familiar: No. 22 Utah State spent five straight weeks in the poll earlier this season, while No. 23 Gonzaga is back in after falling out for six straight weeks to end that program’s first stretch among the unranked since the 2015-16 season.

FAREWELL (FOR NOW)

Colorado State (No. 22), Texas Tech (No. 23) and BYU (No. 25) fell out from last week.

CONFERENCE WATCH

The Southeastern Conference led the way with six ranked teams, including No. 14 Alabama, No. 16 Kentucky and No. 18 South Carolina. The Big 12 was next with four teams, all in the top 15.

The Big East had three, followed by the Big Ten, Atlantic Coast, Pac-12, Mountain West and West Coast conferences with two. The Atlantic 10 joined the AAC with one.

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