Bulldogs Return To AP Poll At No. 24

Feb. 25, 2008

Tennessee surged to the top of The Associated Press college basketball poll for the first time Monday on the strength of its victory over Memphis in a Nos. 1-vs.-2 matchup.

The football team at Tennessee has been ranked No. 1 during four seasons, including two national titles. The women's basketball program has been a regular atop that poll since 1977, winning seven national championships under coach Pat Summitt.

Now it's the men's turn.

The Volunteers (25-2) were a runaway choice, receiving 69 first-place votes and 1,797 points from the 72-member national media panel after a 66-62 victory at Memphis. Tennessee is the 53rd school to hold the No. 1 ranking since the poll began for the 1948-49 season.

"The response has been overwhelming here," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said Monday. "The game Saturday, there'll always be a lot of talk of where were you when they beat Memphis to become No. 1? It was that kind of event so it will have some staying power, but for us there will be little staying power because we have to go play at Vanderbilt on Tuesday where they have won 17 straight games.

"The fact that men's basketball was able to get to this point just brings us in line with the other sports here, men's and women's, like softball and track and field. This is the expectation at Tennessee and that you can point to those different sports is why Tennessee is one of the finest athletic programs in the country and this only adds to that."

Memphis (26-1), which lost for the first time this season when Tennessee ended its 47-game home winning streak, had been ranked No. 1 for the past five weeks, the last three as a unanimous choice. The Tigers were No. 2 and received 1,682 points.

North Carolina (26-2), which was No. 1 in the preseason poll and for the first 10 weeks of the regular season, stayed third after wins over North Carolina State and Wake Forest. The Tar Heels received two first-place votes, while UCLA (24-3), which jumped from sixth to fourth after wins over Oregon State and Oregon last week, was No. 1 on one ballot.



There was some history made near the bottom of the rankings as well Monday with Kent State (23-5) moving into the Top 25 for the first time. The Golden Flashes were No. 23 after their 65-57 victory at Saint Mary's, Calif., on Saturday night.

Texas moved up two spots to fifth. Kansas, which lost at Oklahoma State on Saturday, and Duke, which snapped a two-game losing streak with a win over St. John's on Saturday, both dropped two spots to sixth and seventh, respectively. Stanford, Xavier and Wisconsin rounded out the top 10.

Georgetown moved up one place to 11th and was followed by Indiana, Louisville, Butler, Connecticut, Purdue, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Michigan State and Drake. The last five ranked teams were Marquette, Washington State, Kent State, Gonzaga and Saint Mary's.

Gonzaga (21-6) was the week's other newcomer. The Bulldogs, who were 14th in the preseason poll, returned after a nine-week absence. They have won 12 of their last 15, with the losses coming to Tennessee, Memphis and Saint Mary's.

Kent State entered the poll having won nine of 10, the loss coming at Toledo. Two of the Golden Flashes' losses this season were to North Carolina and Xavier.

Texas A&M (20-7) dropped out from 23rd, its first time out of the poll this season. The Aggies, ranked as high as No. 9 this season, have lost three straight - Oklahoma State, Texas and Nebraska, the first and last at home.

Kansas State (18-8) was ranked for eight weeks this season, including the last four in a row. The Wildcats fell out from 24th, having lost three of four, including losses to Nebraska and Baylor last week.

The Associated Press Top 25 college basketball poll, with
number of first-place votes and record in parentheses, total
points and previous ranking:
(Records through February 24, 2008)
    TEAM                                   PTS   PVS
    ----                                   ---   ---
 1. TENNESSEE (69) (25-2)                1,797     2
 2. MEMPHIS (26-1)                       1,682     1
 3. NORTH CAROLINA (2) (26-2)            1,668     3
 4. UCLA (1) (24-3)                      1,593     6
 5. TEXAS (23-4)                         1,478     7
 6. KANSAS (24-3)                        1,368     4
 7. DUKE (23-3)                          1,344     5
 8. STANFORD (22-4)                      1,264     9
 9. XAVIER (24-4)                        1,228    10
10. WISCONSIN (23-4)                     1,175    11
11. GEORGETOWN (22-4)                    1,101    12
12. INDIANA (23-4)                         969    15
13. LOUISVILLE (22-6)                      828    18
14. BUTLER (25-3)                          752     8
15. CONNECTICUT (21-6)                     688    13
16. PURDUE (21-6)                          655    14
17. NOTRE DAME (21-5)                      630    21
18. VANDERBILT (23-4)                      627    20
19. MICHIGAN ST (22-5)                     625    19
20. DRAKE (24-3)                           621    16
21. MARQUETTE (20-6)                       389    25
22. WASHINGTON ST (21-6)                   364    17
23. KENT ST (23-5)                         125    NR
24. GONZAGA (21-6)                          94    NR
25. SAINT MARYS CA (23-4)                   77    23
Dropped Out: No. 22 TEXAS A&M, No. 24 KANSAS ST
Others Receiving Votes: MIAMI FL 62, DAVIDSON 40, CLEMSON

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