Kentucky stays at No. 1 in AP Top 25; ODU makes poll debut
Kentucky’s week off didn’t weaken the Wildcats’ hold on the No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25.
If anything, coach John Calipari is hoping it gave his team the chance to focus on getting better.
”We’ve tried to zero in on a couple areas that we’ve really got to get better at offensively,” Calipari said. ”They’re things we’re going to have to be able to do if we want to be the kind of team everybody keeps talking about.”
The Wildcats (13-0) got all 64 first-place votes cast for Monday’s poll, the fifth straight week as the unanimous No. 1. Kentucky hasn’t played since beating Louisville on Dec. 27 – that 58-50 win stands as the Wildcats’ closest of the season – and returns Tuesday against Mississippi.
”Our focus is on us,” Calipari said. ”Our focus is on how do we improve individual players? How do we get them even closer? Are there small things that we can do to make this team better?”
The top five remained unchanged, with Duke (13-0), Virginia (13-0), Wisconsin (14-1) and Louisville (13-1) behind Kentucky as the focus across the country shifted into conference play.
Gonzaga, Arizona, Villanova and Utah remained in the top 10 while Texas slipped in at No. 10 to replace Iowa State – which fell from No. 9 to No. 17 after losing to South Carolina in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
RISING AND FALLING: Iowa State’s fall was the second biggest of the week. St. John’s dropped from No. 15 to No. 24 after losing to Butler.
Most of the climbs in the poll were only a spot or two, leaving No. 14 West Virginia’s push from No. 17 as the week’s biggest gain.
MONARCHS’ DEBUT: No. 25 Old Dominion is celebrating the program’s first appearance in the Top 25 poll.
Coached by former Virginia and American coach Jeff Jones, the Monarchs (12-1) have won nine straight games and are off to the best start in the school’s Division I history.
”I am excited for our program, the University and Monarch alumni and fans everywhere,” Jones said in a statement. ”It’s a big step for the program and a credit to the hard work of our student-athletes and our coaching staff.”
ODU can go to 2-0 in Conference USA when it travels to Marshall on Thursday.
TERPS STAY HOT: No. 11 Maryland (14-1) continues to hold the program’s highest ranking since reaching No. 8 in February 2003.
The Terrapins have won seven straight since losing Virginia from their former home in the Atlantic Coast Conference, most recently by beating Minnesota in their first Big Ten home game. Maryland plays at Illinois and Purdue this week.
THE NEWCOMERS: In addition to ODU, Seton Hall, VCU and Arkansas were new arrivals to the Top 25 this week.
The No. 19 Pirates (12-2) are the highest ranked of that group after upsetting then-unbeaten Villanova over the weekend. It marks the first time Seton Hall has been ranked in three years and only the second time since 2001.
VCU and Arkansas were ranked earlier this season.
FAREWELL FOR NOW: Washington, Colorado State, Northern Iowa and Georgetown dropped out of the poll.
AP Sports Writer Hank Kurz in Richmond, Virginia, contributed to this report.
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