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Archive for Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Duke takes top spot away from UConn

January 20, 2004

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Duke was due to be No. 1.

For the seventh straight season, the Blue Devils made an appearance atop the Associated Press' men's college basketball poll, moving up one place Monday to overtake Connecticut.

The streak dates to the 1997-98 season and is the second longest in history, behind UCLA's 12 straight seasons with a stay at No. 1 from 1964-75. The Bruins won 10 national championships during that span; the Blue Devils have one NCAA title during their run (in 2001).

"Being No. 1 is very important to us, and we actually earned it, it wasn't just given to us," Duke senior guard Chris Duhon said Monday. "This team has matured, and right now we feel we are the best in the country, but we're not, and know we have a bigger target than usual on our backs."

Duke (14-1) is the fourth school at No. 1 this season; its women's team also is ranked No. 1 this week.

The Blue Devils beat then-No. 4 Wake Forest, 84-72, Saturday, the same day Connecticut lost, 86-83, at then-No. 9 North Carolina. The Huskies (14-2) were No. 1 for eight weeks this season, including the last five in a row.

Kansas University and Florida each were No. 1 for one week this season.

Duke has won 11 straight games since losing to Purdue in the finals of the Great Alaska Shootout and received 45 first-place votes and 1,763 points from the national media panel.

That was 30 points more than Stanford, which moved up one place to second.

The Cardinal, one of four unbeaten teams left in Division One through Sunday, were No. 1 on 24 ballots and matched their highest ranking since the final poll of the 2000-01 season.

Duke's first game this season at No. 1 will be Wednesday night at Maryland. The Terrapins beat Duke at home the last two seasons -- and the Blue Devils led the AP poll each time.

"We haven't really played well there the last couple of years, and they knocked us off as No. 1 the last couple of years. So we're excited to go up there and play against them as a No. 1," Duhon said. "And they didn't really see the real Duke last year."

Saint Joseph's (15-0) received one first-place vote and moved up three spots to third, its highest ranking since Jan. 18, 1966, at No. 3.

Connecticut dropped to No. 4, followed by Louisville, Cincinnati (13-0), North Carolina, Pittsburgh (18-0), Kentucky and Wake Forest. Cincinnati got the other two first-place votes.

Georgia Tech was No. 11, trailed by Kansas, Syracuse, Arizona, Gonzaga, Texas, Florida, Texas Tech, Mississippi State and No. 20 Oklahoma. The last five ranked teams were Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Oklahoma State and South Carolina.

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