Purdue back at No. 1 in AP Top 25, Arizona up to No. 2; ‘Nova, BYU, Colorado State jump into top 20

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Purdue is back atop The Associated Press Top 25 men’s college basketball poll, right where it spent so much of last season.

The Boilermakers ascended to No. 1 on Monday after an impressive run through a loaded field at the Maui Invitational. They beat Gonzaga, Tennessee and Marquette — three of the top 11 teams in the nation — in consecutive days, and that was enough to earn 60 of 63 first-place votes from the national panel of Top 25 voters.

It took the Boilermakers until Dec. 12 to reach No. 1 last year, where they spent seven weeks over two different stints.

“Our guys were resilient, I thought they hung in there, and I thought at times we didn’t play our best basketball in the three days, but I thought we played really hard,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said after the Maui Invitational. “We competed, and that is what you got to do. You got to just sometimes hang in there and just keep competing and make one more play.”

Purdue replaced preseason No. 1 Kansas, which fell to fifth after Marquette in the Maui semifinals and then rebounding to beat Tennessee in the third-place game. Arizona moved up one spot to No. 2 with one first-place vote, Marquette climbed a spot to third and UConn was fourth with two first-place votes.

The defending national champion Huskies play the Jayhawks on Friday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

Houston remained sixth while Duke climbed to seventh, Miami to eighth and Baylor to ninth. Tennessee only fell three places to 10th after its losses to Purdue and Kansas in Maui, a reflection of the stiff competition.

“I’ve said all along, I like being in big games. If you want to win a big game, you got to get in a big game,” Volunteers coach Rick Barnes said. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and I enjoy these games because I want to see us play at the highest level. I want to see us execute at the highest level. I want to see our guys learn from this.”

Gonzaga remained at No. 11 after its trip to Maui, and Kentucky was 12th. Florida Atlantic used its win over then-No. 12 Texas A&M on the way to an ESPN Events Invitational title to jump six spots to No. 13, right ahead of the Aggies. Creighton plummeted seven spots to No. 15 after getting walloped by Colorado State in the Hall of Fame Classic championship game.

Texas and North Carolina were followed by Villanova, which returned to the poll, and then BYU and the Rams, who both jumped into the poll for the first time this season. Mississippi State, James Madison, Alabama, Illinois and Oklahoma rounded out the Top 25.

FAU made a big climb this week. The Owls followed a humbling loss to Bryant with an impressive trip to Kissimmee, Florida, where they followed tough wins over Butler and Texas A&M by dismantling Virginia Tech for the ESPN Events title.

Creighton took the biggest fall. The Bluejays easily beat Loyola Chicago at the Hall of Fame in Kansas City, Missouri, then were run out of T-Mobile Center by the Rams, who shut down Baylor Scheierman in their 69-48 victory.

Villanova, BYU and Colorado State not only entered the poll but jumped right into the top 20. The Wildcats were No. 18 after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Cougars right behind after a Vegas Showdown title and the Rams used their first top-10 win since 1984 against Creighton to enter at No. 20.

Illinois and Oklahoma joined them in the poll at the expense of Colorado, Michigan State, Arkansas, USC and Virginia.

Memphis, San Diego State, Colorado, Ohio State and TCU received the most votes among those outside the poll. Princeton earned 14 votes after its 6-0 start; the Tigers have not been ranked since they were No. 8 in the final poll of the 1997-98 season.

The Big 12 led all conferences with six teams in the Top 25, followed by the SEC with five and the Big East with four. There were 10 different conferences represented this week.

Here’s the full top 25:

1. Purdue 
2. Arizona
3. Marquette
4. UConn 
5. Kansas
6. Houston 
7. Duke 
8. Miami 
9. Baylor
10. Tennessee 
11. Gonzaga 
12. Kentucky 
13. Florida Atlantic 
14. Texas A&M 
15. Creighton 
16. Texas 
17. North Carolina 
18. Villanova 
19. BYU 
20. Colorado State 
21. Mississippi State 
22. James Madison 
23. Alabama 
24. Illinois 
25. Oklahoma 

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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