UConn still on top, Texas Tech and Creighton move in to Top 25

Monday, January 12th 2004, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

Connecticut left little doubt it deserves to be No. 1.

A day after routing Oklahoma 86-59 in its first game against a Top 10 team this season, UConn held the top spot in The Associated Press' men's college basketball poll for a fifth straight week Monday.

The Huskies (13-1) received 52 first-place votes and 1,767 points from the national media panel after handing the then sixth-ranked Sooners their first loss of the season. Oklahoma (10-1) dropped from No. 6 to No. 11.

Connecticut won't have it easy this weekend, either, when it visits No. 9 North Carolina, one of six matchups of ranked teams this week.

Duke (12-1) was No. 2 for a third straight week with four first-place votes and 1,689 points. Then came the changes, including first appearances in the poll this season by Texas Tech and Creighton.

Vanderbilt dropped three places to 23 after losing to Kentucky on Saturday.

The Huskies' five-week run at No. 1 matches the longest from last season, which Arizona did twice. Connecticut's longest run at No. 1 was a 10-week stretch in 1998-99, the season it won its only national title.

Stanford (13-0) and Wake Forest (11-0) each moved up a spot to third and fourth, respectively, with two victories apiece. They were the only other teams to receive first-place votes, Stanford with 11 and Wake Forest with five.

Kentucky moved from seventh to fifth, followed by Saint Joseph's, Arizona, Louisville, North Carolina and Cincinnati.

Georgia Tech, a 103-88 loser at North Carolina on Sunday, dropped from No. 8 to No. 12, followed by Pittsburgh, Kansas, Florida, Gonzaga, Syracuse, Texas, Wisconsin and Mississippi State.

The last five ranked teams were Marquette, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, Creighton and Illinois.

Texas Tech (13-2) moved into the poll on a nine-game winning streak that followed losses to Georgia Tech and SMU. The Red Raiders, ranked for two weeks last season, opened Big 12 play Saturday with an 83-62 victory over Oklahoma State.

Creighton (12-0) became familiar with the Top 25 last season when it was ranked for the final 15 weeks. The Bluejays got as high as No. 10 and were 15th in the final poll. They enter this week's rankings off a 78-67 victory over Drake.

Purdue (11-4), ranked the past six weeks, dropped out with a 71-61 loss to Iowa before bouncing back with a 58-54 win at Illinois.

Providence (8-3) moved into the rankings last Monday for the first time in almost three years, but two last-second losses knocked the Friars back out. They lost 79-77 in overtime to Texas last Monday on a shot at the buzzer by P.J. Tucker that had to be reviewed by the officials. On Saturday, Providence lost 65-64 to Rutgers on a 3-pointer by Herve Lamizana with less than a second to play.

Other ranked matchups this week are: Kentucky at Mississippi State and Wake Forest at Texas on Tuesday; Cincinnati at Marquette on Wednesday; and Wake Forest at Duke and Florida at Vanderbilt on Saturday.

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