After a 29-year absence, No. 23 SMU is back in the Associated Press men’s basketball poll.
The Mustangs (19-5, 8-3 American Athletic Conference) returned to the rankings Monday on the strength of Saturday’s 76-55 rout of Cincinnati, which dropped from seventh to 10th in the weekly poll.
The victory over Cincinnati marked the Mustangs’ first triumph over a Top 10 opponent since Dec. 3, 1987, and continued the program’s upward spiral under second-year coach Larry Brown. SMU has defeated three fellow Top 25 teams in this week’s poll (No. 10 Cincinnati, No. 20 Memphis, No. 24 Connecticut), the most in a single season by a Mustangs’ team since 1984-85.
“I’m proud of this group. That’s a huge accomplishment,” said Brown, who delivered donuts Monday morning to students who camped out overnight to land tickets for upcoming home games. “But we haven’t accomplished what we all want. We’re just hoping to get better.”
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SMU climbed into the poll on the same day Oklahoma State and Oklahoma dropped out. Their departures mean the Big 12, which has had seven different schools ranked this season, is down to three teams in the current poll: No. 7 Kansas, No. 11 Iowa State and No. 19 Texas.
SMU’s staying power in the Top 25 will be tested immediately. Three of the Mustangs’ next four games are on the road, including a Feb. 23 contest at No. 24 Connecticut (18-5, 6-4). SMU is 6-5 in neutral-site or road games this season, 13-0 at home.
Brown has acknowledged the team’s NCAA Tournament hopes likely will be determined by how the Mustangs play in games away from Moody Coliseum. Although he enjoyed the raucous crowd that attended the Cincinnati game, Brown said he hopes future high-profile wins do not lead to more court-storming celebrations.
“I love the students being involved and I want them to be excited for what’s going on,” Brown said after Saturday’s victory. “But they don’t storm the court at Kansas. They don’t storm the court at UCLA. I’m so happy that we had that opportunity but I’m hopeful, if we ever get this program the way we would like, that we expect to win games like this.”
AP Top 25
The top 25 teams in The Associated Press’ college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 9, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week’s ranking:
|1. Syracuse (65)||23-0||1,625||1|
|4. Wichita St.||25-0||1,445||4|
|5. San Diego St.||21-1||1,373||5|
|9. Michigan St.||20-4||1,025||9|
|11. Iowa St.||18-4||925||16|
|12. Saint Louis||22-2||908||13|
|22. Ohio St.||19-5||214||_|
Others receiving votes: Oklahoma 99, Gonzaga 44, UCLA 43, New Mexico 23, Oklahoma St. 10, George Washington 6, Southern Miss. 6, Stephen F. Austin 3, Arizona St. 1, Kansas St. 1, North Carolina 1.