Syracuse No. 1 for first time in 20 years
Syracuse took quite a route to its first No. 1 ranking in 20 years.
The Orange weren't in the preseason Top 25 and, just days after it was released with them in "Others Receiving Votes," they were beaten by Division II LeMoyne in an exhibition game.
But they were back in the poll — at No. 10, in fact — just two weeks into the season after impressive wins over California and North Carolina in the 2K Sports Classic.
The Orange haven't been out of the top 10 since and yesterday moved from fourth into the No. 1 spot, taking advantage of a weekend that saw the top three teams lose.
"It's a great honor, a great testament for these players, these kids, to be number one," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "We all know it doesn't matter that much in the big picture, it's where you are at the end of the year. These kids have worked hard, been unselfish. They deserve it. They really do."
This is the third time the Hall of Fame coach has had the Orange at No. 1. There was the preseason poll in 1987-88 and a six-week stint in 1989-90.
Syracuse (27-2), which received 59 first-place votes from the national media panel, moved to the top off its 95-77 victory over then-No. 7 Villanova in front of an on-campus record crowd at the Carrier Dome.
Kansas, which had been No. 1 for the past four weeks, had the other six first-place votes and dropped to second. The Jayhawks (27-2) lost at Oklahoma State on Saturday, the same day Kentucky (27-2) lost at Tennessee. The Wildcats fell one spot to third.
Purdue dropped from No. 3 to seventh following Sunday's 53-44 loss to Michigan State.
MEN'S TOP 25
No. 10 West Virginia 81, No. 19 Georgetown 68: Da'Sean Butler scored 22 points in his final home game and West Virginia (23-6, 12-5) beat Georgetown (19-9, 9-8). The Mountaineers clinched a double-bye into the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament. Devin Ebanks added 15 points, Kevin Jones scored 14 and Darryl Bryant had 11 for West Virginia.
Utah State 76, Fresno State 39: Tai Wesley scored 21 points and host Utah State (24-6, 13-2) ran past Fresno State (14-17, 6-9) to clinch a share of the Western Athletic Conference title. The Aggies scored the game's first 22 points while winning their 14th straight. Mike Ladd and Paul George each scored 12 for the Bulldogs.
WOMEN'S TOP 25
No. 1 Connecticut 76, No. 6 Notre Dame 51: Tina Charles had 18 points and eight rebounds to become Connecticut's career leader in both categories as the Huskies (30-0, 16-0 Big East) beat host Notre Dame (25-4, 12-4). Charles passed Nykesha Sales as the school's all-time leading scorer (2,184 points) and Rebecca Lobo as its leading rebounder (1,272). UConn has won 69 in a row.
Syracuse 67, No. 7 West Virginia 48: Erica Morrow scored 23 points and host Syracuse (20-9, 7-9 Big East) beat West Virginia (26-4, 13-3). After trailing by 14 early, Syracuse regrouped behind its defense and took control with a 25-6 spurt to start the second half.
No. 12 Georgetown 71, Seton Hall 49: Sugar Rodgers scored 24 points and host Georgetown (25-5, 13-3 Big East) made a school-record 13 3-pointers against Seton Hall (9-20, 1-15). Monica McNutt scored 14 points and Latia McGee added 10 for the Hoyas.
No. 16 St. John's 77, Pittsburgh 65: Kelly McManmon scored 18 points and visiting St. John's (24-5, 12-4) beat Pittsburgh (16-13, 5-11) and clinched a double-bye in the Big East tournament. Da'Shena Stevens added 17 points and 15 rebounds, and Shenneika Smith had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Red Storm.