Florida takes over at No. 1

Monday, December 8th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Three weeks, three No. 1s.

Florida moved into the top spot in The Associated Press college basketball poll Monday, the third straight week there has been a new No. 1 team.

The Gators (5-0) moved up one spot to replace Kansas, which lost 64-58 to Stanford on Saturday. The Jayhawks held the No. 1 ranking for just one week after replacing Connecticut; the Huskies were on top for the preseason and the first two weeks of the regular season.

Stanford, which beat a No. 1 team for the third time in school history, had the week's biggest jump, moving from 21st to 13th.

The last time there were three No. 1 teams in as many weeks was the end of the 1999-00 season, when Stanford, Cincinnati and Duke each had a stay on top in the final three polls.

The record for consecutive polls with a different No. 1 is seven. From Jan. 3 to Feb. 14, 1994, the top teams were: Arkansas, North Carolina, Kansas, UCLA, Duke, North Carolina and Arkansas.

Florida was No. 1 for the first time in school history last season, holding that spot for one week. The Gators lost 70-55 to Kentucky in their first game as a No. 1 team then.

The Gators host Maryland on Wednesday, and they play at Louisville on Saturday.

``We're in the middle of a long race, and it's just started. It's very early in the season, and I feel like we're still learning who we are as a team,'' Florida coach Billy Donovan said Monday.

``We moved to No. 1, which is always great, but my total focus is for our team to continue to improve regardless of what our ranking is. We've got two very difficult tests this week and our sole focus is on improving as a basketball team.''

Florida received 46 first-place votes and 1,732 points from the national media panel.

No. 2 Connecticut (6-1) and No. 3 Missouri (3-0) each moved up one place in the rankings. The Huskies got nine first-place votes and 1,593 points, while the Tigers were No. 1 on six ballots and drew 1,512 points.

Duke (5-1) moved up two places to fourth, and Kansas (3-1) _ which last week soared from No. 6 to No. 1 _ fell back to fifth.

Texas, North Carolina, Kentucky, Arizona and Georgia Tech rounded out the Top 10.

Seven teams received first-place votes this week, two fewer than last week. Georgia Tech had four No. 1 votes, while Texas and North Carolina had three each, and Kentucky had one.

Oklahoma moved up three places to 11th and was followed by Saint Joseph's, Stanford, Illinois, Wake Forest, Purdue, Gonzaga, Cincinnati, Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

The last five ranked teams were Michigan State, Marquette, Wisconsin, Iowa and Dayton.

Iowa and Dayton are newcomers, replacing Notre Dame and Oklahoma State.

The biggest drop was by Michigan State, from No. 5 to No. 21. The Spartans (3-3) lost to Duke and Oklahoma last week, and it doesn't get easier this week, with a game against Kentucky.

Other upcoming meetings between ranked teams: Texas vs. Arizona in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday; Purdue at Oklahoma on Thursday; Missouri plays Gonzaga in Seattle; and Marquette at Arizona.