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Kansas bolts to No. 5 in Associated Press college basketball poll; Wichita State second to Florida


In the wake of his team's 85-54 loss to Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, Texas coach Rick Barnes accused himself of being premature while at the same time saying I told you so.

"I said at the beginning of the year that Kansas is the best team in the country," Barnes said. "What I should have said was that by the end of the year they would be the best team in the country."

KU still has to prove it can bring its best effort consistently before living up to that statement, but the Jayhawks certainly look as if they have turned the corner. Andrew Wiggins and Tarik Black, to name a couple, are playing with season-high confidence and the way they attacked the rim had a contagious effect during the Texas rout.

The entire country took note of the way Kansas manhandled the Longhorns and vaulted KU to fifth in the Associated Press college basketball poll released Monday. After a week in which Syracuse fell from the unbeaten ranks with two losses, Florida moved to the top, followed by Wichita State.

The top 25 teams in the AP poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 23, and total points, based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week’s ranking:

         Record Pts Prv
  1. Florida (47) 25-2 1,606 2
  2. Wichita St. (14) 29-0 1,549 3
  3. Arizona (4) 25-2 1,494 4
  4. Syracuse 25-2 1,410 1
  5. Kansas 21-6 1,310 8
  6. Duke 22-6 1,286 5
  7. Louisville 23-4 1,152 11
  8. Villanova 24-3 1,113 9
  9. Creighton 23-4 1,103 11
  10. Saint Louis 25-2 1,047 10
  11. Cincinnati 24-4 921 7
  12. Virginia 23-5 909 14
  13. San Diego St. 23-3 886 6
  14. Wisconsin 22-5 818 16
  15. Iowa St. 21-5 709 17
  16. Michigan 19-7 653 20
  17. Kentucky 21-6 629 18
  18. Michigan St. 22-6 552 13
  19. North Carolina 20-7 440 NR
  20. Iowa 19-7 418 15
  21. Memphis 21-6 288 22
  22. Ohio St. 22-6 253 24
  23. SMU 22-6 155 NR
  24. Texas 20-7 129 19
  25. New Mexico 21-5 113 NR

Others receiving votes: UConn 81, UCLA 41, Oklahoma 35, Stephen F. Austin 11, UMass 9, Gonzaga 2, Green Bay 2, NC Central 1.

My AP top 25 ballot:

1 – Wichita State: When trying to catch up, don’t foul any of the three leading scorers because they all make their free throws. Cleanthony Early, Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet combine to shoot .844 from the line.

2 – Florida: Gators didn’t have greatest week, beating two lousy SEC teams by a combined nine points, but they’ve won 19 in a row, so why complain? First victory of the streak came at home against Kansas.

3 – Arizona: Any opponent with enough fouls to put the Wildcats in the bonus should employ a hack-an-Aaron strategy. Star freshman Aaron Gordon .308 from line in last seven games, .411 for season.

4 – Syracuse: Jim Boeheim entered week undefeated, lost twice in a row and grew even way angrier than usual with zebras. Time to reflect. Here’s a suggestion: Discourage C.J. Fair (.271) from shooting three-pointers. He’s launched 70 of them.

5 – Kansas: Tarik Black and Joel Embiid looked good together on the court in Texas blowout.

6 - Duke: Freshman Jabari Parker in victory against Syracuse: 19 points, 10 rebounds, 6 of 8 field goals, 3 of 3 three-pointers. Guy knows how to make his shots count.

7 – Creighton: Doug McDermott’s shooting the past five games: 51 of 80 (.638) from the field, 11 of 20 (.550) from three. Foul him? Not a good idea. He’s shooting .898 from the line for the season.

8 – Villanova: Deafeating St. John’s 57-54 at home doesn’t sound so hot, unless you’ve seen the Johnnies play. Wow! One of the most athletic teams in the country.

9 – Virginia: During the same week Pat Knight, son of coaching legend Bob Knight, was fired from Lamar with a 3-22 record, Tony Bennett, son of coaching legend Dick Bennett, ascended into first place in the ACC.

10 – San Diego State: Shot just .323 and scored just 44 points in loss to New Mexico in The Pit.

11 – Louisville: Finally a big victory for the Cardinals, a come-from-behind defensive tussle at Cincinnati.

12 – Cincinnati: Bearcats play such tough defense that Sean Kilpatrick doesn’t need much help in the scoring department, but during 28-point effort in 58-57 loss to Louisville, Kilpatrick needed more than 29 points of support rest of team gave him.

13 – North Carolina: Rushing is for fraternities and sororities, not basketball crowds that support perennial powerhouses.

14 – Saint Louis: Now winners of 19 in a row, the Billikens cracked the top 10 last week for the first time since 1964 and did so on what would have been the 66th birthday of Rick Majerus, who upon becoming too ill to coach passed the job onto Jim Crews. ESPN’s Paul Biancardi posted on Twitter this quote from Majerus from March, 2012: “We’ll be a Top 10 team in about three years. I did it at Ball State, did it at Utah, and we’re going to do it here.”

15 – Michigan: Completed sweep of Spartans with 79-70 victory to move into sole possession of first place in the deep Big Ten, just as everyone thought would be the case when Mitch McGary went down for the season with a back injury. And by everyone, I mean nobody.

16 – Michigan State: Not the same team with Brandon Dawson out with broken hand and Keith Appling playing with wrist injury that keeps him from being much of a scoring threat.

17 – Kentucky: freshman Julius Randle averaging a double-double with 15.7 points and 10.3 rebounds.

18– Wisconsin: Badgers have a few tough losses (Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern), but a most impressive list of victories (Florida, Saint Louis, Virginia, Iowa twice, Michigan state, Michigan).

19 – Ohio State: Has held 11 opponents to 55 points or fewer, including a 48-39 victory at Illinois.

20 – Iowa State: Looking like the leading contender to finish in second in the Big 12, having already gotten games with Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas out of the way.

21 – Iowa: Hawkeyes makeup game at Indiana rescheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday and will be carried by ESPN. The metal beam that fell and damaged seats hours before the gates were opened for the originally scheduled game was 8 feet long and more than a foot wide, which is a little scary when you think about it.

22 - Texas: Smelling salts are in order. Then a huge raw steak over each eye to contain the swelling while taking an ice bath followed by two aspirin.

23 – SMU: Larry Brown took his team into Storrs, Conn., and walked away with a 64-55 victory. Brown’s the Bill Snyder of college basketball, an ageless wonder.
Danny Manning, the best college basketball player Brown ever coached, is having a nice season himself. Manning’s Tulsa squad has won five in a row, all by double digits, and is in a four-way tie for second in Conference USA with a 10-3 record.

24 – New Mexico: Great quote from Lobos coach Craig Neal after Australian Cameron Bairstow scored 26 points in 58-44 victory against San Diego State: “I said it before and I said it on national TV, I’ve got the best power forward in the country playing for us.”

25 - Oklahoma: Where the wind comes sweeping down the plains.


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