BuffCountry.com Men's Top 25 - 02/09/04

Uconn's still the best team in the country, according to this week's BuffCountry Top 25; the same spot they've been at for most of the season. Georgia Tech was the only other team to be atop our poll this year, and now the Yellow Jackets are among a handful of teams knocking on the door for #1. Meanwhile, three new teams make an appearance on the list, and three others have a chance of doing the same thing next week.

1. UConn
Back-to-back 30-point wins in conference play have the Huskies riding their biggest wave of momentum yet. Junior center Emeka Okafor is finally starting to live up to his pre-season billing; dropping 25 and 23 in UConn's last two wins after averaging just over 14 in the previous five.

2. Kentucky
KU picked up its third one-point victory in SEC play this season following its 65-64 victory over South Carolina Saturday. The Wildcats also edged Mississippi State (67-66) and Tennessee (69-68 in overtime), and currently sit atop the conference with a 6-2 mark.

3. Duke
Perhaps the largest single piece of evidence testifying to the Blue Devil's improvement in this season over last was Chris Duhon's game-clincher in his team's overtime win over North Carolina Thursday night. "Last year, I would have walked it up, tried to make a set, but we would have probably gone into another overtime," the senior said. "I glanced at the clock, saw the time (13 seconds left), glanced at coach to see if he wanted a timeout or not, and he was waving his fingers to go, so I just attacked and took what the defense gave me."

4. Pittsburgh
At 22-1 the Panthers no longer have a claim to a perfect season, but their 12-point road victory over Notre Dame Saturday appears to have Pitt back where it needs to be to make a run for a No. 1 or No. 2 seed this month.

5. Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech smothered Tennessee with an unrelenting dose of physical defense in a 15-point win at Rocky Top Saturday; adequately making up for Jon Higgins' half-court shot to beat the Yellow Jackets a year ago in Atlanta.

6. Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State reserve forwards Marcus Dove and Tremaine Fuqua were suspended indefinitely from the team for violating team policy, the school said Tuesday. Coach Eddie Sutton refused to comment further on the suspensions.

7. Mississippi State
Lawrence Roberts scored 24 points and the Bulldogs pulled away from Ole Miss in the second half for an 80-56 victory Saturday. Roberts, who leads the Bulldogs in scoring this season with 17.0 per game, hadn't scored more than 20 since his team's Jan. 10 victory over Arkansas.

8. Texas Tech
Texas Tech chancellor David Smith said he was complimenting Bob Knight when the coach came "charging up behind me furious with fists clenched," during a public confrontation at an upscale grocery store. The report was made public in a memo somehow released to media in Lubbock.

9. Stanford
The Cardinal beat Arizona 80-77 Saturday afternoon after the Wildcats had stormed back to take a five-point lead with 2:37 remaining. The win shattered the four-game win streak the ‘Cats had managed in Palo Alto prior to the weekend showdown, and gave Stanford a momentous advantage in the Pac-10.

10. Saint Joseph's
Saint Joseph's had an easy time extending its school-record winning streak to 20 games Saturday, routing La Salle 89-63 behind 22 points from Delonte West and 20 from Jameer Nelson. The pair has combined to score more than 40 points for the Hawks in each of their team's past four games.

11. Kansas
Wayne Simien grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds Saturday in the Jayhawks' 96-77 win over Big-12 rival Texas Tech. "Wayne was a beast," junior point guard Aaron Miles gushed of his center after KU's second consecutive win. "He brings the same effort game in and game out."

12. Texas
The high-scoring ‘Horns continue to rip through the heart of their conference schedule. Texas held Oklahoma to 26 percent shooting from the field in TU's staggering 66-37 victory over the Sooners Saturday, including a 1-of-21 from 3-point range. Oklahoma's point total matched the 37 points the football team scored on Texas in the first half of a 65-13 win in October.

13. Gonzaga
The Bulldogs improved to 19-2 overall on the season following their 87-57 victory over Loyola-Marymount Saturday; the Zags' 12th consecutive victory dating back to their seven-point loss at Stanford on Dec. 20.

14. Syracuse
Donnie McGrath and Marcus Douthit scored 16 points apiece to lead Providence to a 74-61 upset over Orangemen on Saturday. "We're just really struggling," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "For us to get better, we just got to get our offense going again."

15. Louisville
The Pitino saga aside, this is a banged-up club right now in dire need of finding some solid footing down the stretch. Getting healthy for March is No. 1 priority, not winning in February.

16. Arizona
As Selection Sunday gets closer, Saturday's last-second loss to Stanford could be the one that comes back to haunt the Wildcats. It already contributed to a two seed-line drop in the latest projections, but really hurts in the Pac-10 race as Arizona now trails Stanford by four games.

17. Iowa State
After winning seven straight to start the season, the Cyclones' post-New Year slump continues. ISU has dropped three of their last five, and less-than-impressive performances against Texas and Kansas over the next two weeks could well seal Iowa State's post-season fate.

18. Utah
The Utes hope that the mini-slump which plagued them during losses to New Mexico and Air Force early in their Mountain West schedule has subsided in time for upcoming showdowns against Colorado State and BYU.

19. South Carolina
Kerbrell Brown's 8-foot baseline jumper hit the side of the backboard, and Kentucky's Cliff Hawkins grabbed the loose ball to seal a one-point UK win over South Carolina Saturday, along with S.C.'s hopes for getting an edge in SEC-play.

20. Boston College
Getting to the free throw line was a problem in the Eagles' loss to UConn last week. Boston College coach Al Skinner hopes his postgame comments don't exacerbate that trend. At 2-5 in the Big East, Boston College is a pair of victories away from being in the middle of the pack, where its RPI would give it a legitimate shot at the NCAA's.

21. Wisconsin
Suspended indefinitely, Wisconsin's Maurice "Boo" Wade did not play in Saturday's 69-51 loss to conference foe Northwestern on Saturday. The guard was released from jail Thursday on a signature bond a day after his arrest for choking a 19-year-old woman. A restraining order was issued as part of terms for his release.

22. Air Force
With a 3-1 record on the road in Mountain West play, the Falcons have matched their best previous conference road mark of three wins, set in 1988-89 in the WAC. The Falcons finished that year with a 14-14 record.

23. Memphis
Against TCU last week the Tigers took 43 two-pointers, their most since Dec. 29. Memphis had been averaging 32.8 3-pointers per game in its previous five outings.

24. Illinois
Illinois has a commitment from Class 2005 junior guard Jamar Smith of Peoria-Richwoods, Ill., over interest from Marquette, Indiana, Wisconsin and Kansas. The Illini recently gained Class 2005 junior forward David Palmer of Antioch, Tenn., over Tennessee, Oklahoma, Purdue and Notre Dame.

25. Creighton
The Bluejays have been getting contributions from everyone on the squad, as shown by the victory over the Purple Aces last week, which saw Nate Funk score a career-high 21 points and Kellen Miliner come off the bench to contribute 20 in the 74-70 win. Creighton, 17-3 overall on the year, are 9-3 in Missouri Valley Conference play, and continue to lead the charge for an at-large birth.

Keep an eye on…

Florida
Florida has problems. The Gators have so many; in fact, their postseason will be short unless they improve soon.

Colorado
Following a disastrous loss to Kansas on Jan. 25, Michel Morandais, David Harrison and Blair Wilson spoke as a group with coach Ricardo Patton. The meeting seemed to boost the Buffaloes' attitude after they returned home and secured decisive victories over Missouri and Baylor.

Dayton
The Flyers are a flawless 16-0 this season when outrebounding their opponent.

Western Michigan
Western Michigan's talented roster has made it easy for the Broncos to excel even when key players are missing.

Illinois-Chicago
Forward Josh Williams has been declared academically ineligible for the remainder of the season.

Mid-Major Top 10…

1. Gonzaga (19-2)
2. Memphis (16-4)
3. Vermont (15-5)
4. Utah State (19-1)
5. Lafayette (16-5)
6. Charlotte (13-5)
7. DePaul (12-7)
8. Manhattan (17-4)
9. Belmont (15-5)
10. Troy State (16-5)

Who's on the bubble…?

Nevada
Nevada's 10-0 home record is its best start at home since becoming a member of Division I.

Seton Hall
This week is full of big games for the Pirates to get in the position to not only make the NCAAs, but earn a high seed there.

Boston
The Bulldogs have lost just one of their 12 American East Conference games they've played this season; a two-point Jan. 17 defeat at the hands of Vermont.

Central Florida
The Knights remain just a single conference win from dethroning Troy State from atop the 11-team Atlantic Sun Conference.

A look across the board…

Regionally…
Air Force (22nd), Colorado (29th), Denver (108th), Colorado State (120th)

The Big 12…
Oklahoma State (6th), Texas Tech (8th), Kansas (11th), Texas (12th), Oklahoma (80th), Nebraska (82nd), Missouri (135th), Kansas State (143rd), Texas A&M (242nd), Baylor (262nd)

CU's Schedule…
Utah (18th), Cal (110th), Northwestern (116th), Richmond (158th), Oregon State (170th), Pepperdine (184th), Cal-Poly (234th), Tennessee State (292nd), Savannah State (322nd)

Talk about this on the Inside the Foam Dome MESSAGE BOARD

**Send your TOP 25 to sc_fuller@hotmail.com by midnight Saturday**


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