By JOHN MARSHALL
AP Basketball Writer
Alabama is the new No. 1, rising to the top spot in The Associated Press Top 25 men’s college basketball poll for the first time in 20 years.
Purdue’s loss to Northwestern last week caused a jumble at the top of the AP Top 25 and that helped the Crimson Tide.
Alabama received 38 first-place votes from a 62-person media panel Monday, moving up two spots to leapfrog No. 2 Houston. The Cougars had 22 first-place votes to remain at No. 2 and Purdue, down to No. 3, still had two first-place votes.
UCLA and Kansas rounded out the top five.
Alabama has made a name for itself as more than just a football school since coach Nate Oats arrived from Buffalo in in 2019. The Crimson Tide reached the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight two years ago and Oats pulled in one of the nation’s best recruiting classes last year.
Alabama is No. 1 for the first time since spending two weeks atop the poll midway through the 2002-03 season. Alabama (22-3, 12-0 Southeastern Conference) beat Auburn and Florida last week, with its only loss since mid-December coming at Oklahoma in a nonconference game on Jan. 28.
“Our team is playing good basketball right now,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said after a 77-69 loss to the Crimson Tide on Saturday. “We’re playing well. We’re just not playing well enough to beat the best team in the country.”
Purdue managed to remain at No. 1 last week despite losing to No. 14 Indiana. The Boilermakers weren’t so fortunate after a 64-58 loss to Northwestern on Sunday.
The Wildcats swarmed 7-foot-4 Purdue center Zach Edey, who had 24 points but committed six turnovers. The Boilermakers shot 36% from the field and missed their final 13 shots from 3-point range.
“Just got to show more poise and toughness than we did,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said.
No. 9 Baylor and No. 18 Creighton made the biggest moves of the week, each gaining five spots.
The Bears beat Oklahoma and picked up a road win at No. 22 TCU last week. The Bluejays beat Seton Hall and eked out a 56-53 win over No. 20 UConn to stretch their winning streak to eight games to remain in contention for the Big East regular-season title.
No. 19 Iowa State had the biggest drop, losing eight places following losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma State.
IN AND OUT
Florida Atlantic was the only team to move into the poll, returning at No. 25 after dropping out last week. The Owls beat Rice and Louisiana Tech last week after being ranked for the first time in school history earlier this season.
Rutgers fell out of the poll for the second time this season, dropping from No. 24 after losing to Indiana and Illinois.
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