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Tennessee jumps Duke to take No. 1 in AP poll

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Tennessee jumps Duke to take No. 1 in AP poll
1:42 PM ET

  • Associated Press

Tennessee is the new No. 1 in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll on Monday, climbing two spots to earn their first top ranking since the 2007-08 season.

The Volunteers received 48 of 64 first-place votes from a media panel in the poll released Monday, after Duke, Michigan and Virginia all suffered losses last week.

No. 2 Duke received 11 first-place votes, No. 3 Virginia received three and No. 6 Michigan State two. Gonzaga and Michigan rounded out the top five.

“The guys playing right now built this thing,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said.

Expectations followed the Vols into the 2018-19 season. With its top six scorers back from a team that shared the SEC title, Tennessee had its highest preseason ranking at No. 6 and was eyeing a deep NCAA tournament run in Barnes’ fourth season.

The Vols have lived up to the forecast so far, bouncing back from an overtime loss to then-No. 2 Kansas to win 12 straight games. Tennessee knocked Gonzaga from atop the AP Top 25 with Barnes’ first win over a No. 1 team in early December and won its two games last week, rolling over Arkansas and holding off Alabama .

The only other time Tennessee (16-1, 5-0) was No. 1, it lost the next night to Vanderbilt — the Vols’ opponent on Wednesday.

“Tennessee basketball hasn’t been ranked No. 1 in a long time,” Vols guard Jordan Bone said. “That’s a good feeling, but we can’t be so locked in on that. We have to continue to stay hungry. We can’t be so focused on that. It’s so fleeting. It can change really quick.”

Tennessee is the first SEC program outside of Kentucky to ascend to No. 1 in the AP Poll since Florida in 2014.

The changes in the AP Top 25 came quickly after a wild week.

Duke started by losing to Syracuse in overtime at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils played without a sick Cam Reddish and lost point guard Tre Jones to a shoulder injury in the first half.

Reddish returned against Virginia on Saturday and Duke responded with a superb game, knocking Virginia from the unbeaten ranks with a 72-70 victory despite playing without Jones.

Michigan lost to Wisconsin by 10, also on Saturday, leaving the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers as the last Division I team to go undefeated.

In all, 13 ranked teams lost last week, including No. 7 Kansas, No. 8 Texas Tech and No. 9 Virginia Tech. The Jayhawks fell two spots after losing to West Virginia. The Red Raiders dropped six spots to No. 14 after losses to Iowa State and Baylor. The Hokies were down one to No. 10 following a loss to Virginia.

Florida State, after stretching its losing streak to three games with defeats to Pittsburgh and Boston College, fell out of the poll from No. 11.

Kentucky saw a steady slide down the Top 25 after opening the season with a blowout loss to Duke. The preseason No. 2, the Wildcats were down to No. 19 just a month ago, but started climbing again. Kentucky is up to No. 8 after beating No. 14 Auburn and Georgia this week, with games against No. 22 Mississippi State and No. 9 Kansas coming up.

Maryland, winners of seven straight, had the biggest climb of the week, up six spots ahead of the Terrapins’ game at No. 6 Michigan State on Monday night and a trip to Madison Square Garden on Saturday to face lowly Illinois. Kentucky, No. 17 Houston, No. 18 Villanova and No. 19 Iowa each moved up four spots.

Louisville moved into the Top 25 for the first time this season at No. 23 following wins over Boston College and Georgia Tech.

Iowa State‘s wins over Texas Tech and Oklahoma State put the Cyclones back in at No. 24 after they dropped out from No. 20 last week, while LSU beat then-No. 19 Mississippi and South Carolina last week to return to the poll at No. 25.

Oklahoma joined Florida State in dropping out of the poll following losses to Kansas State and Texas. The Sooners were No. 20 last week.

Indiana, No. 25 last week, did not receive a single vote after lopsided losses to Nebraska and Purdue.

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