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Gonzaga takes over No. 1 ranking in AP, USA Today polls

UPDATED: Mon., Nov. 26, 2018, 3:35 p.m.

Gonzaga is the top dog again in the college basketball rankings.

The Zags, on the strength of Wednesday’s victory against former No. 1 Duke in the Maui Invitational championship, moved into the top spot in the latest AP and USA Today polls released Monday.

As expected, the vote was close between Gonzaga (6-0) and Kansas (5-0) from AP’s 65-member media panel – about as close as the Zags’ 89-87 win over Duke and the Jayhawks’ 87-81 overtime decision over Tennessee on Friday.

The Zags went from zero AP first-place votes a week ago to 32 this week and earned 1,590 points. The Jayhawks received 31 first-place votes and 1,584 points.

The coaches’ poll was even tighter. Gonzaga had 17 first-place votes and 784 points compared to the Jayhawks’ 15 and 782, respectively.

It marks the third time in seven seasons the Zags have reached No. 1 in the AP poll. After a 22-0 start, they took over the top spot in the Jan. 30, 2017, poll and held it for four weeks before losing in their regular-season finale to BYU.

Gonzaga’s first ascent to No. 1 came late in the 2013 season. GU, with a 29-2 record, nabbed the top spot from Indiana on March 4.

The Spokesman-Review has traditionally utilized the AP rankings in its Gonzaga coverage.

Staying at No. 1 will be a challenge with the Zags about to enter the toughest portion of their schedule. Gonzaga visits Creighton on Saturday, followed by a home date with Washington on Dec. 5, a showdown versus No. 6 Tennessee on Dec. 9 in Phoenix and a road game against No. 11 North Carolina on Dec. 15.

Creighton is just outside the AP Top 25 with 65 points and the USA Today’s Top 25 with 26 points.

Kansas, which has won 14 straight titles in the tough Big 12, has non-conference matchups against Stanford on Saturday, defending national champion Villanova on Dec. 15 and Arizona State on Dec. 22.

Kansas was leapfrogged in the rankings for the second time this season. Duke climbed over the preseason No. 1 Jayhawks in the first regular-season poll after the Blue Devils routed then No. 2 Kentucky 118-84. The Jayhawks are the only team with two top 10 wins.

Duke dropped to No. 3, followed by Virginia, Nevada, Tennessee, Michigan, Auburn, Michigan State and Kentucky in the AP top 10. Duke and Virginia each received one first-place vote. Nevada’s No. 5 ranking is the highest in program history.

The USA Today’s top 10 after GU and Kansas: Duke, Virginia, Michigan, Nevada, Tennessee, Michigan State, Kentucky and Auburn and Kansas State sharing 10th.

Ohio State made the biggest jump within the AP poll, climbing seven spots to No. 16 following wins over Samford and Cleveland State. Villanova returned to the rankings at No. 23 after winning the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando. Texas entered the rankings at No. 17 after beating North Carolina and falling to Michigan State.

Saint Mary’s, which received three points in last week’s coaches’ rankings, and Loyola Marymount, which received two points in the AP, were both blanked in both polls this week.

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