Purdue is back at #1 on the AP Top 25. Alabama is right behind Boilermakers.
Purdue returned to first place in The Associated Press’s college basketball poll on Monday, moving up two places after Temple defeated No. 1 Houston over the weekend. The Boilermakers received 39 first-place votes from a 62-strong media panel after a volatile week that saw only two teams retain the same spot as a week ago.
Alabama climbed two spots to No. 2 and received 23 first-place votes for its highest rank since reaching No. 1 in 2002-03. Houston, Tennessee and Kansas State round out the top 5.
Purdue (19-1, 8-1 Big Ten) had fallen to No. 3 after four weeks at No. 1 following a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 3, but has since won six straight seasons.
Alabama (17-2, 7-0 SEK) has made a steady climb since ranking 20th in the AP Top 25 last season and moved into the top 10 in early December. The Crimson Tide had lopsided victories over Missouri and Vanderbilt after Darius Miles was fired from the team as he was charged with murder in a fatal shooting near campus.
Alabama coach Nate Oats reached out to Ray Lewis before the Crimson Tide played Vanderbilt last week and shared a Bible verse suggested by the Hall of Fame linebacker. Alabama beat Vandy at 12 and rolled over Missouri at 21.
“I saw some guys collapse after the game,” Oats said. “I think they bottled some stuff. We have a job to do. We have to get to the game. We’ve come to the game and taken care of business, and then it’s almost like a huge relief. The game is over and we can breathe easy.”
Houston moved to the top of the AP Top 25 for the first time since the 1980s Phi Slama Jama earlier this season before a loss to Alabama knocked it down to No. 5.
The Cougars returned to No. 1 on Jan. 9, but their run ended after two weeks in Sunday’s 56-55 loss to Temple. The win marked the Owls’ first win against a No. 1 team since 2000.
Kansas State moved up eight spots to No. 5 after beating rival Kansas 83-82 at the Bramlage Coliseum last week. It’s the Wildcats’ highest rank since they peaked at No. 3 in 2010-11.
TCU gave Kansas a straight loss in the state for the first time since 1989 with a 23-point loss at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday. It was one of Bill Self’s worst losses in 20 years as Kansas coach and ended the Jayhawks’ 16-game home winning streak.
The number 14 Horned Frogs moved up three spots after winning this week’s poll. Kansas, the defending champion, fell seven places to 9th.
BIG TEN BUMMER
While Purdue stayed at the top of the poll for most of the season, the rest of the Big Ten has fallen off. With the departure of Rutgers, the Big Ten have only one AP Top 25 team for the first time since Feb. 16, 2004, when No. 12 Wisconsin was the conference’s only team, according to Sportradar.
Kansas State had the biggest jump of the week, followed by No. 4 Tennessee and No. 6 Arizona, each climbing five places. No. 21 Baylor climbed four spots with victories over Texas Tech and Oklahoma.
Gonzaga had the biggest fall, dropping eight places to 14th after Loyola Marymount ended the Zags’ 75-game home winning streak on Thursday. No. 13 Xavier dropped five spots after a one-point road loss to DePaul.
IN AND OUT
No. 22 Saint Mary’s is ranked for the first time this season after Pepperdine and Santa Clara were rolled over last week. No. 25 New Mexico is back in the poll after beating San Jose State and beating Boise State in overtime.
A three-point loss to Michigan State knocked Rutgers out of the poll from 23rd place. Arkansas dropped from 25th place after a loss to Missouri.