Purdue returned to the top spot in the Associated Press men’s college basketball poll on Monday, moving up two spots after Temple knocked off No. 1 Houston over the weekend. The Boilermakers received 39 first-place votes from a 62-person media panel after a volatile week in which just two teams kept the same spot from a week ago.
Alabama climbed two spots to No. 2, picking up 23 first-place votes for its highest ranking since reaching No. 1 in 2002-03. Houston, Tennessee and Kansas State round out the top five.
Purdue (19-1, 8-1 Big Ten) had dropped to No. 3 after four weeks at No. 1 following a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 3, but it has since won six straight.
Alabama (17-2, 7-0 SEC) has made a steady climb since being ranked No. 20 in the preseason AP Top 25, moving into the top 10 in early December. The Crimson Tide had lopsided wins over Missouri and Vanderbilt after Darius Miles was dismissed from the team, as he faces a murder charge in a fatal shooting near campus.
Alabama coach Nate Oats reached out to Ray Lewis before the Crimson Tide played Vanderbilt last week, sharing a Bible verse suggested by the Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker. Alabama ended up beating Vandy by 12 and rolled over Missouri by 21.
“I did see some guys break down postgame,” Oats said. “I think they’ve been bottling some stuff up. We’ve got a job to do. We’ve got to get to the game. We got to the game and took care of business, and then it’s almost like a big relief. The game’s over, and we can let out a sigh of relief.”
Houston moved atop the AP Top 25 for the first time since the Phi Slama Jama of the 1980s earlier this season before a loss to Alabama dropped it back to No. 5.
The Cougars returned to No. 1 on Jan. 9, but their run ended after two weeks with Sunday’s 56-55 loss to Temple. The win was the Owls’ first over a No. 1 team since 2000.
Kansas State moved up eight spots to No. 5 after outlasting rival Kansas 83-82 at Bramlage Coliseum last week. It’s…