Louisville, Texas Tech move into Top 25 rankings

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Louisville's Rick Pitino and Texas Tech's Bob Knight have their teams in The Associated Press men's college basketball poll.

Alabama, Pittsburgh, Duke and Arizona kept the top four places in AP's Top 25 released Monday. The big changes came at the last two spots, where two programs with high-profile second-year coaches who won national championships at other schools moved into the rankings.

Louisville (7-1), coming off an 81-63 victory over Kentucky, moved into the rankings for the first time under Pitino, who won the national championship with the instate rival in 1996. The 24th-ranked Cardinals, who went 19-13 in Pitino's first season, were last in the poll during the 1999-2000 season.

Texas Tech (8-1), which won 99-89 in overtime at Minnesota last week, have been ranked in each of Knight's two seasons there. The Red Raiders were ranked for two weeks last season, when they went 23-9.

Alabama (9-0), which beat Morehead State 82-64 in its only game last week, was No. 1 for the second straight week, receiving 35 first-place votes and 1,720 points from the national media panel.

Pittsburgh (9-0) had 16 No. 1 votes and 1,688 points, while Duke (7-0) was first on 14 ballots and Arizona (6-1) had five first-place votes.

Connecticut (8-0) moved up one place to No. 5, while Notre Dame and Texas both jumped two spots to sixth and seventh.

Mississippi State (8-1), which beat Oklahoma 54-45 Saturday, made the biggest advancement in the rankings. The Bulldogs, who received the only other first-place vote, improved eight spots to No. 8, their highest ranking since 1995-96, their Final Four season.

Oregon and Oklahoma, which fell five spots after the loss to Mississippi State, rounded out the Top Ten.

Illinois, which fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 77-74 loss at Memphis, dropped four places to No. 11, and was followed by Florida, Marquette, Michigan State, Creighton, Missouri, Indiana, Kansas, Xavier and Kentucky.

The last five ranked teams were LSU, Maryland, Wake Forest, Louisville and Texas Tech.

North Carolina (8-3), which lost to Iona in the Holiday Festival before beating St. John's in the third-place game, dropped out of the poll from No. 22. Tulsa (7-2), which beat Texas Christian and lost to Iowa last week, fell from 20th.

North Carolina was ranked the last four weeks, getting as high as No. 12, while Tulsa had been in every poll this season, moving as high as 17th.

Indiana (8-2), which has lost to Kentucky and Temple in its last two games, had the week's biggest fall, dropping from 10th to No. 17.

Texas Tech gives the Big 12 five ranked teams (Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas), tying the Southeastern Conference (Alabama, Mississippi State, Florida, Kentucky and LSU) for the most in the Top 25.

There were eight unbeaten teams in Division I through Sunday's games and only Clemson (8-0) and Butler (10-0) were not ranked.

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