Syracuse installed at top in coaches poll

Updated: December 12, 2011, 4:03 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange have emerged from a pack of previously unbeatens and a season of unprecedented controversy to become the No. 1 team in the country.

Syracuse gained a near-unanimous vote at the top of the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll released Monday.

"We're proud to be No. 1 in the country," Boeheim said, according to The Associated Press. "It's an honor but obviously in today's world you could only be there until your next game if you're not careful. There's so much balance out there. I think it's still a big honor for our players to get to that spot and we have played well. We have to play better but that's OK because it's a great challenge and we're looking forward it."

Ohio State remained at No. 2 in the Week 6 rankings despite falling 78-67 to Kansas, which advanced one notch to 12th.

Kentucky, which also suffered its first loss of the season on Saturday, dropped to third after holding the top spot for two weeks.

Undefeated Louisville and Duke (9-1) remained No. 4 and No. 5.

North Carolina, Baylor, Missouri, Xavier and Connecticut completed the top 10.

Syracuse drew 28 of the 30 first-place votes, having withstood a scandal that saw its longtime assistant coach Bernie Fine accused by three men of sexually abusing them when they were boys.

Fine has since been fired by the school amid a federal investigation into the accusations.

The Buckeyes drew the other two votes for the top spot, despite their loss.

The Orange (10-0) also jumped from third to No. 1 in The Associated Press media poll, receiving 51 of 65 first-place votes.

Indiana, one of three previously unranked teams to enter the ESPN/USA Today poll, came in at No. 20. The Hoosiers knocked off Kentucky 73-72 on Christian Watford's 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Syracuse doesn't field a dominating playmaker and has risen to the top despite only one victory over a Top 25 team. The Orange also lack a high-profile matchup in the near future.

"I think one thing is we have balance offensively and defensively," Boeheim said. "We have really good balance. I think that's important to have a great team. We have the balance individually and as a team and that's what's really good about this team and hopefully we'll get better but I'm sure all coaches think that right now."

The Orange beat then-No. 9 Florida 72-68 on Dec. 2, but don't play a Top 25 team again until Jan. 7, when they host No. 11 Marquette (9-0).

Kris Joseph, a senior forward, leads Syracuse with 13.7 points per game.

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