Baylor Bears

Baylor moves to No. 1 in AP men’s basketball poll

New Baylor football coach Matt Rhule arrives in Bear country

Former Temple coach Matt Rhule is introduced at Baylor University as the next football coach. (video by Mac Engel/Star-Telegram).
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Former Temple coach Matt Rhule is introduced at Baylor University as the next football coach. (video by Mac Engel/Star-Telegram).

For the first time in program history, the Baylor men’s basketball team grabbed the No. 1 ranking in Monday’s updated Associated Press poll.

The Bears (15-0), who join Gonzaga (15-0) as the only remaining major-college programs with undefeated records, climbed to the top spot after sweeping games last week against Iowa State and Oklahoma State. The top spot was available after previous No. 1 Villanova (15-1) fell to Butler 66-58 on Wednesday night.

Baylor becomes the first team from the Lone Star State to hold the top spot since Texas climbed to No. 1 in consecutive polls in January 2010. Those Longhorns finished 23-8.

Baylor topped No. 2 Kansas (14-1), winner of the last 12 conference championships in the Big 12, in Monday’s balloting. The Bears, unranked in the preseason, received 55 first-place votes. Kansas got eight. Villanova, which fell to No. 3, received one.

Baylor’s tenure at the top will be tested quickly. The Bears meet No. 10 West Virginia (13-2) on Tuesday night in Morgantown, W.Va. During last week’s conference call with league coaches, Baylor coach Scott Drew acknowledged that he could embrace the No. 1 ranking if it fell his way.

“Every coach would tell you they’d rather be ranked No. 1 than 351,” Drew said at the time. “But everyone realizes the fluidity of college basketball and is more interested in where you are at the end of the season. We’ll be happy to be recognized by whatever comes. But the end-of-the-year polls are more important.”

The Bears’ historic ascent to the top spot in the AP poll coincided with Monday’s announcement that forward Johnathan Motley had been selected as the Big 12 player of the week for the second time this season. Motley, a 6-foot-10 junior, averaged 13 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks per game during the Bears’ victories over Iowa State and Oklahoma State. He made a combined 10-of-15 shots from the field (66.7 pct.) in those contests.

Among other Texas schools, SMU was among the teams receiving votes in Monday’s poll. The Mustangs (14-3), winner of 10 consecutive games, received five points from voters.

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Jimmy Burch: 817-390-7760, @Jimmy_Burch

Top 25

The top 25 teams in The Associated Press’ college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Jan. 8, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week’s ranking:

Record

Pts

Prv

1. Baylor (55)

15-0

1608

2

2. Kansas (8)

14-1

1517

3

3. Villanova (1)

15-1

1499

1

4. UCLA (1)

16-1

1433

4

5. Gonzaga

15-0

1366

5

6. Kentucky

13-2

1327

6

7. Duke

14-2

1173

8

8. Creighton

15-1

1111

10

9. Florida State

15-1

1071

12

10. West Virginia

13-2

972

7

11. North Carolina

14-3

902

14

12. Butler

14-2

880

18

13. Oregon

15-2

869

15

14. Louisville

13-3

744

9

15. Xavier

13-2

651

16

16. Arizona

15-2

634

17

17. Purdue

14-3

584

20

18. Wisconsin

13-3

581

13

19. Virginia

12-3

580

11

20. Notre Dame

14-2

468

23

21. Saint Mary’s (Cal)

14-1

377

19

22. Cincinnati

13-2

256

22

23. Florida

12-3

252

24

24. Minnesota

15-2

167

_

25. Kansas State

13-2

20

_

25. Southern Cal

15-2

20

25

Others receiving votes: Seton Hall 11, South Carolina 7, Iowa State 7, Indiana 6, Virginia Tech 6, Maryland 5, SMU 5, Clemson 4, UNC-Wilmington 3, VCU 3, Nevada 2, Dayton 2, Wichita State 2.

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