By AARON BEARD – (AP)
Purdue’s unquestioned grip on No. 1 in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll is gone after a weekend loss. That didn’t stop the Boilermakers from remaining at the top anyway.
The Boilermakers earned 38 of 62 first-place votes in the poll released Monday to remain at No. 1 for a third straight week and seventh time this season. Purdue was the unanimous choice last week, the first for any team this season, before falling at Indiana over the weekend for only its second loss.
The Boilermakers (22-2, 11-2) have a leading candidate for national player of the year in Zach Edey and KenPom’s No. 1-ranked offense (121.1 points scored per 100 possessions) to go with a top-25 defense. But they got down big, committed 16 turnovers and allowed the Hoosiers — up to No. 18 this week — to shoot nearly 53% in a 79-74 loss Saturday.
“When we go to Zach and we make some perimeter shots, the defense gets better sometimes when the offense flows,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said at his postgame news conference. “And you can’t do that. You can always rebound, you can always take care of the ball, you can always make your free throws, those things there.”
The loss meant Houston collected 22 first-place votes as it rose one spot to No. 2, followed by No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Arizona in each claiming one.
THE TOP TIER
Texas jumped five spots to No. 5, shooting past Tennessee, which fell four spots to No. 6 after losing last week at Florida.
UCLA, Virginia, Kansas and Marquette rounded out the top 10, with Shaka Smart’s Golden Eagles cracking the top 10 for the first time since 2019.
The Longhorns’ jump marked the biggest of the week, followed by Marquette and Miami each rising four spots. No. 13 Xavier, No. 15 Saint Mary’s and No. 21 UConn joined Indiana in each moving up three positions.
In all, 12 teams rose from last week’s rankings.
Kansas State took the week’s biggest tumble, falling five spots to No. 12 after losing at Kansas and at home to Texas last week. No. 16 Gonzaga joined Tennessee in falling four spots after its overtime loss at Saint Mary’s.
In all, nine teams fell from last week’s rankings.
Purdue was the only team to remain in the same position this week.
North Carolina State earned its first AP Top 25 ranking in four years, checking in at No. 22.
The Wolfpack (19-5, 9-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) spent six weeks in the poll during the 2018-19 season. N.C. State already has surpassed the win total for each of the last two seasons and is in contention for the program’s first NCAA Tournament berth since 2018.
Creighton and Rutgers joined N.C. State as this week’s new additions to the poll, though both were ranked earlier this season. The Bluejays were No. 9 in the preseason poll and peaked at No. 7 before falling out by mid-December, while the Scarlet Knights spent a week at No. 23 in mid-January.
FAREWELL (FOR NOW)
Florida Atlantic (No. 19), Clemson (No. 20) and Auburn (No. 25) fell out of this week’s poll.
The Big 12 leads all leagues with six ranked teams, including No. 11 Iowa State, No. 14 Baylor and No. 17 TCU. The Big East is next with five ranked teams, followed by the Big Ten and ACC with three each.
The Pac-12, Southeastern and West Coast conferences each have two ranked teams, while the American Athletic and Mountain West each have one.
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25