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UConn men’s basketball remains No. 1 in AP top 25 rankings for fifth week in a row

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The UConn men’s basketball team, keepers of the nation’s longest winning streak, will hold onto the No. 1 ranking for at least another week.

The Huskies were voted No. 1 in the Associated Press top 25 poll for the fifth week in a row on Monday after beating Butler and Georgetown for their 11th and 12th consecutive wins. It is the most consecutive weeks the program has been ranked No. 1  since the 2003-04 season, when Jim Calhoun’s Huskies topped the rankings for five straight weeks from mid-December to mid-January before going on to win a second national championship.

Now looking to become the first back-to-back national champion since Florida in 2006-07, UConn hasn’t lost since the start of Big East play and is 7-0 since taking over the No. 1 spot on Jan. 15.

“People talk about what we’re trying to do compared to what Duke did when my brother (Bobby) was there, they went back-to-back, and what Florida did in their back-to-back. What we’re attempting to do I think is far harder,” head coach Dan Hurley said Saturday. “Those teams returned all of the big guys.”

Hurley lost three of his pro-level starters and two important bench pieces in the offseason. He and the staff built this year’s roster around returners Tristen Newton, Alex Karaban and Donovan Clingan, added one major transfer in Cam Spencer and have relied on a talented incoming freshman class highlighted by Stephon Castle. Returners Samson Johnson and Hassan Diarra have also seen increased roles with a more limited bench.

Stephon Castle named Big East top freshman for UConn-record seventh time; Spencer earns first honor roll nod

“Obviously when you put the roster at the end of last season and you’re working through the summer, you see (that) we have five starters that are all going to be (scoring in) double figures and they’re gonna range between 10-11 (points) a game to 15-16 a game,” Hurley said. “There’s not many teams in the country that have probably as good a starting five as we have. We’re potentially elite on offense, elite on defense and we really rebound it well.

“So we’re not vulnerable in a lot of spots right now.”

The Huskies are No. 1 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, No. 3 by KenPom and No. 4 in the NCAA’s NET rankings.

Purdue held at No. 2 in the AP poll and received 16 first place votes to the Huskies’ 45 with a 20-point win over Indiana. As Kansas and North Carolina each dropped out of the top five, Houston moved up to No. 3 and Marquette, who UConn still has to play twice in Big East play, jumped up to No. 4. Arizona rounds out the top five.

Saturday’s matchup against Marquette in Hartford will be the third-ever top five matchup in Connecticut and the first since the top-ranked Huskies hosted Pittsburgh on Feb. 16, 2009.

Creighton, up two spots to No. 17, made for three Big East teams ranked in the top 25 for the seventh week in a row. UConn will play consecutive ranked games as it travels to Omaha Feb. 20.

AP Top 25 men’s basketball poll: Week 15

  1. UConn (45 first place votes)
  2. Purdue (16)
  3. Houston
  4. Marquette
  5. Arizona
  6. Kansas
  7. North Carolina
  8. Tennessee
  9. Duke
  10. Iowa State
  11. South Carolina
  12. Baylor
  13. Auburn
  14. Illinois
  15. Alabama
  16. Dayton
  17. Creighton
  18. Saint Mary’s
  19. BYU
  20. Wisconsin
  21. Virginia
  22. Kentucky
  23. Indiana State
  24. Florida Atlantic
  25. Oklahoma

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