Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio St. top poll

Updated: January 23, 2012, 10:06 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Syracuse's reign as the No. 1 team in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll ended at six weeks Monday, with Kentucky taking over the ranking it held earlier this season.

The Orange, whose run atop the rankings had blunted the impact of scandal, dropped to No. 4 after losing to Notre Dame 67-58 in South Bend. It was Syracuse's first loss after starting 20-0, a record for the program.

Kentucky (19-1) withstood Alabama on a Saturday that echoed "moving day" on the PGA Tour, with three of the nation's top four and five of the leading 19 teams falling. The Wildcats were No. 1 before being overtaken by Syracuse on Dec. 12.

"We'll address it for a second or two, but we've just got to play," Kentucky coach John Calipari said.

Big 12 power Missouri (18-1) vaulted to No. 2 in this week's poll after Kansas defeated previously third-ranked Baylor on Monday and the Tigers edged the Bears on Saturday.

"Wow. Who would've thunk it? It's a tremendous honor," Tigers coach Frank Haith said. "These guys are to be commended for their hard work, how they've played. I'm really proud of them. But we also know that rankings; it's nice, but at the end of the day, we want to be playing in March."

Ohio State (17-3) moved up from sixth to third after winning its only game of the week. The Jayhawks (16-3) checked in after the Orange at No. 5, while Duke fell from No. 4 to No. 6 after losing to Florida State.

The top five of the Associated Press media poll mirrored the coaches' poll, with Missouri getting two votes for No. 1.

Kentucky received all 31 first-place votes in the ESPN/USA Today poll.

"All we've got to do is win games and we'll be No. 1 forever," said Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, one of three freshman starters for the Wildcats. "To be this young as a team and to be No. 1, that's a blessing."

Kentucky lost the No. 1 ranking when it fell Dec. 10 at Indiana on Christian Watford's 3-pointer at the buzzer. Since then, the Wildcats have won 11 straight by an average of 17.6 points with road games this week at Georgia on Tuesday night and LSU on Saturday.

Even during the winning streak, Calipari said he hasn't liked how his team has responded to physical play and that the Wildcats might be due for an upset again soon after watching film as a team on Sunday night.

"I like my team. We're going on a tough road trip, but I did tell them the way this is going we probably need a loss so that we'll come together and say, 'We're not losing like this.' In other words, getting manhandled," Calipari said. "We're getting manhandled and winning close games so they think it's OK."

The Orange played Notre Dame without their leading rebounder in center Fab Melo, who had started all of Syracuse's first 20 games. He was held out due to an unresolved academic issue from the first semester, a source told ESPN.com's Andy Katz.

The defeat denied Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim his 877th career victory, which would have put him in sole possession of fourth place among Division I men's coaches.

The Orange's season has been otherwise marred by child molestation accusations leveled against former longtime assistant coach Bernie Fine, who was fired in November.

Baylor (17-2), North Carolina (16-3), Murray State (20-0) and Georgetown (16-3) round out the top 10. Murray State is Division I's only undefeated team.

"Today, I happened to drive by the arena and I just saw a line of people and students out there trying to get tickets right now, a whole week before our game," Racers guard Donte Poole said. "It just motivates you. It makes you keep that enthusiasm up, keep on doing the things that have gotten us here."

Even after its buzzer-beating victory over Duke and a 33-point rout of North Carolina on the previous Saturday, Florida State (13-6) did not make the Top 25 cut. The Seminoles are the first team outside the rankings, with 41 points.

Michigan State (16-4) led off the poll's second 10 and was followed by San Diego State (17-2), Florida (15-4), Creighton (18-2), UNLV (18-3), Mississippi State (16-4), Indiana (16-4), Marquette (16-4), Connecticut (14-5) and Saint Mary's (19-2).

After the Gaels came Virginia (15-3), Michigan (15-5), Harvard (16-2) and Kansas State (14-4). Louisville (15-5) and Wisconsin (16-5) shared the 25th spot.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE