Cougs enter Top 25 rankings

WASHINGTON STATE on Monday checked in tied for No. 22 in the AP poll and No. 23 in the USA TODAY/ESPN men's basketball coaches' poll. It is the first time the Cougars have been ranked since the 1983 season. The ranking comes with Wazzu sitting at 14-2 with wins this season over Arizona, USC and Gonzaga, and tied for first place in the Pac-10.

Washington State received 79 votes in the Coaches' poll, four more than No. 24 Washington (11-4) and five more than Maryland (14-2) who checked in at No. 25. Arizona, the team Washington State beat 77-73 on Saturday, fell one spot to No. 8.

The Cougs has 214 votes in the AP Poll and were tied with Notre Dame, ahead of Connecticut and Texas.

"We've had different guys step up at different times," Bennett told the AP on Monday. "We have mostly sophomores and juniors, and they're kids who have taken their lumps and have some legitimate game experience with some heartbreaking losses and some bad losses. It's a start, and that's all it is. We're in the No. 1-ranked conference in the country, and we have 14 games to go, so we have to keep that same fighting mentality."

Washington State was picked to finish last in the conference in the preseason media poll of members who regularly cover the league. Instead, Wazzu's 3-1 mark in conference has the Cougars tied for first place with UCLA, Arizona and Oregon.

Five Pac-10 teams are in the Coaches' Top 25 along with the Cougs, with UCLA (3), Arizona (8), Oregon (17) and Washington (24) while another, USC, sits at No. 32.

The Cougs and first year head man Tony Bennett take to the road this week to face Stanford and Cal.


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