Wed. Feb 21st, 2024

Memphis Tigers men’s basketball team jumps 4 spots in latest poll

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The University of Memphis Tigers men’s basketball team made the largest jump in this week’s top 25 Associated Press poll, moving from 19 last week to 15.

Memphis earned its sixth consecutive victory on Saturday by defeating Austin Peay at home by the score of 81-70.

Purdue remained atop the the AP poll for the third straight week Monday, while Gonzaga dropped to No. 24 after a loss to San Diego State but kept alive its streak of 142 consecutive weeks in the poll.

The Boilermakers picked up three more first-place votes and had 49 of 63 from the national media panel, easily outdistancing second-place Kansas, which received five first-place nods. Houston remained third despite keeping its perfect record intact with a victory over Penn and picking up the other nine first-place votes.

UConn and Tennessee each moved up one spot to round out the top five following Arizona’s loss to Stanford on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs fell 11 spots from No. 13 after their 84-74 loss to San Diego State. Gonzaga has been ranked in every poll since Jan. 11, 2016, but that streak is in jeopardy after coach Mark Few’s team dropped to 9-4 with no Quad 1 wins this season.

“These guys have some great fight and spirit and a lot of substance to them,” Few said, “but at this point, we should be pretty well along on our way on some of the mental errors we’re making, and we’re just not quite.”

The Bulldogs were 11th in the preseason poll and climbed as high as seventh before three losses in their past five games.

“We’ve got to keep that fight,” Few said, “and we have to clean up some of these missed assignments.”

Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd knows something about missed defensive assignments. The Wildcats, who spent two weeks at No. 1 earlier this season, fell from fourth to 10th after the Cardinal rolled to a 100-82 victory in their Pac-12 matchup.

The Wildcats’ second loss in three games allowed a bunch of teams to jump ahead of them: Kentucky climbed two spots to sixth, Marquette moved up three spots to seventh, North Carolina rose to eighth and Illinois climbed two spots to ninth.

Oklahoma began the next 10, with Big 12 newcomer BYU right behind. Colorado State climbed back to No. 13 to match the best ranking in school history, set earlier this season, while Duke, Memphis and Clemson were right behind the Rams.

FAU dropped from a program-best seventh to No. 17 as voters grappled with the odd resume the Owls have put together this season. They beat Texas A&M and earned a marquee win with a double-overtime victory over Arizona, but they lost to Bryant and were upset by Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday night.

“They outplayed us in every facet of the game,” Owls coach Dusty May said afterward. “As a group, we haven’t handled success as well as we need to. As we close the 2023 preconference schedule, we are pleased where we are overall, but what we learned is our highs are very highs and our lows are relatively low.”

Baylor was No. 18, with James Madison and Texas rounding out the top 20. The final five in the first poll of 2024 were Wisconsin, unbeaten Mississippi, Providence, struggling Gonzaga and Auburn, which is ranked for the first time this season.

RISING AND FALLING

In addition to Memphis’s advancing considerably in the poll was Marquette, which rose three spots to seventh after knocking off No. 22 Creighton on Saturday. Gonzaga dropped 11 spots, FAU fell 10 and Arizona dropped six as they took losses on what was a relatively light slate of games during the holidays.

IN AND OUT

Auburn moved into the poll for the first time since Jan. 30, 2023, after improving to 10-2 with a victory over Chattanooga. The Tigers took their spot in the Top 25 from the Bluejays, whose 72-67 loss to Marquette was their third in four games.

CONFERENCE WATCH

There were 10 conferences represented in the poll this week, led by six from the Big 12, which also had four of the top 12 teams in the nation. The SEC was next with four, followed by the Big Ten, Big East and ACC with three apiece.

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