Cougars move to No. 12 in AP basketball poll

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Houston center Josh Carlton (25) dunks during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

HOUSTON (KIAH) — Houston moved up two spots to No. 12 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 college basketball poll as the Cougars begin play in the Maui Invitational in Las Vegas this week.

Houston moved up despite playing one game last week, a convincing 67-47 win over Virginia last Tuesday at the Fertitta Center.

UH will open the Maui Invitational on Monday afternoon against Butler. The tournament, usually played in Hawaii, was moved to Vegas due to COVID-19 concerns. Oregon, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Texas A&M, St. Mary’s and Chaminade make up the rest of the field.

Defending national champion Baylor jumped to sixth after running roughshod over Central Arkansas and Stanford, while the Wildcats dropped only to seventh thanks to beating then-No. 12 Tennessee before losing to Purdue. Texas and Memphis were next, with Kentucky and Alabama in a tie for 10th in the second regular-season poll of the season.

The Wildcats and Crimson Tide were followed by Houston, Arkansas, Illinois and Tennessee at No. 15.

Gonzaga and UCLA continued their hold on the top two spots in the poll, setting the stage for their highly anticipated showdown this week, while Purdue and Duke barged their way into the top five.

Purdue received the only other first-place vote and leapfrogged Kansas into third in the Top 25 following the Boilermakers’ win over then-No. 5 Villanova in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament. The Jayhawks were fourth and the Blue Devils were fifth.

St. Bonaventure solidified its status as this season’s early mid-major darling by jumping six spots to No. 16 following wins over Clemson and Marquette. Arizona made the biggest leap into the poll at No. 17 after beating Wichita State and romping past then-No. 4 Michigan in the Roman Main Event, followed by another newcomer to the poll in BYU.

Auburn and Michigan rounded out the top 20 with Seton Hall, UConn, Florida, USC and Xavier completing the poll.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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