News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

joins AP top 25

Tide climbs 2 spots to No. 8

By Jim O’Connell
Associated Press Writer

Clemson joined the other unbeaten Division I teams in The Associated Press’ Top 25 on Monday.

The Tigers (12-0) were the only one of the four undefeated teams not to be ranked, but they moved in as No. 25, joining No. 1 UCLA (11-0), No. 12 Connecticut (10-0) and No. 20 Oregon (11-0) in the poll.

The ranking is the first for Clemson since Jan. 12, 1999. The Tigers returned four starters from the team that won five of eight games to close 2005-06, and all but three of the wins this season — Old Dominion, Furman and Mississippi State — have been by at least 10 points.

“Being ranked among the top 25 teams in the country is certainly a sign of progress in our program,” coach Oliver Purnell, who is in his fourth season at Clemson, said Monday. “It is important to use this as motivation to work even harder to get better. We do not need to relax and view it as a major accomplishment at this time of year.”

With two decisive wins last week, Alabama moved from No. 10 to No. 8 in the latest AP poll.

Tennessee (10-2), at No. 21, is the week’s other newcomer. The Volunteers were ranked in the preseason Top 25 and for the first two weeks of the season before losing consecutive games to Butler and North Carolina in the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Since then, Tennessee has won six straight, including a decisive win over Memphis and last week’s close victories over Oklahoma State (the Cowboys’ only loss of the season) and Texas, 111-105 in overtime.

UCLA held the top spot for the fifth straight week. The Bruins, who beat Sam Houston State 75-61 and Michigan 92-55 last week, received all but one first-place votes and finished with 1,799 points from the 72-member national media panel.

North Carolina (10-1) was No. 2 for the second week in a row, receiving the other first-place vote and 1,720 points.

Florida, the only team besides UCLA to be No. 1 this season, jumped from fifth to third following its 86-60 victory over Ohio State during the weekend. Wisconsin remained fourth while Duke moved up one place to fifth.

Ohio State, which lost for the first time since freshman center Greg Oden made his debut seven games into the season following offseason wrist surgery, fell three places to sixth. Arizona, Alabama and Kansas all moved up two places to seventh through ninth.

Pittsburgh, which bounced back from consecutive losses to Wisconsin and Oklahoma State with a 30-point win over Dayton, fell from seventh to round out the top 10.

Texas A&M was 11th followed by Connecticut, Oklahoma State, Washington, Butler, Wichita State, LSU, Marquette, Notre Dame and Oregon.

The last five ranked teams were Tennessee, Memphis, Air Force, Nevada and Clemson.

Wichita State was unbeaten entering last week but the Shockers (9-2) lost to New Mexico and Southern California on consecutive nights in the Las Vegas Classic and had the week’s biggest drop from eighth to No. 16. The No. 8 ranking was Wichita State’s highest since being No. 2 on Dec. 29, 1981.

Gonzaga fell out of the poll from No. 22. The Bulldogs (9-4) lost 61-54 to Duke in their only game last week, but it was their third loss in four games. Gonzaga, which was ranked as high as No. 16 this season, sandwiched a win over Washington with losses at Washington State and Georgia before the loss to Duke at Madison Square Garden.

Syracuse (10-3) fell out from 23rd.

The Orange, who were ranked every week since the preseason poll and were as high as No. 16, lost 84-79 to Drexel today. That was their third loss in a five-game stretch, the others to Wichita State, at home, and Oklahoma State, at Madison Square Garden.

There is only one matchup of ranked teams this week: Washington at UCLA on Sunday.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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