Ole Miss Cracks Associated Press Top Twenty Five College Basketball Poll - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Ole Miss Cracks Associated Press Top Twenty Five College Basketball Poll

By JIM O'CONNELL=

AP Basketball Writer=

The last time Georgetown was in The Associated Press college basketball poll, Allen Iverson and Victor Page were the backcourt and Jerome Williams and Othella Harrington played on the front line.

On Monday, for the first time since they were No. 4 in the final poll of the 1995-96 season, the Hoyas returned to the rankings. They came in at No. 24, with two freshmen starting at forward and Kevin Braswell starting to show his ability to run a team at the point.

Georgetown hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 1997, a first-round exit after reaching the final eight the year before. If you are ranked over the course of the season there's a good likelihood you'll make the tournament and that's what we're shooting for,'' Hoyas coach Craig Esherick said Monday. ``I told our guys the Top 25 is not a goal of ours in terms of getting into the Top 25, rather to stay there and play well enough to staythere.''The freshmen forwards are leading the Hoyas (7-0) in scoring.

Mike Sweetney, a 6-foot-8, 260-pound power forward, is averaging 14.1 points and 8.0 rebounds, while Gerald Riley, who is 6-6 and weighs 205 pounds, is averaging 11 points and four rebounds. I'm probably more surprised by how well Gerald started off than Mike,'' said Esherick, who is in his second full season as head coach after succeeding John Thompson in January 1999. ``Mike had the body of a college player two years ago. He's big and strong and has great hands. In terms of the physical nature of the game, he didn't have to make that much of an adjustment. Gerald is thin and plays on the perimeter and I'm surprised he's come along as he has.''

What makes their progress even more important is that the Hoyas haven't had senior Lee Scruggs, an offensive key last season, for academic reasons. Braswell, a shooting guard in high school, appears to have made the transition to the point and is averaging 9.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists. ``I think he really got comfortable at the end of last season and the way he's played so far this season is a continuation of the maturation process,'' Esherick said of Braswell, a junior who is eighth on the school's career assist list. ``The move from shooting guard to the point does not happen overnight. At this point, with some of these guys' offensive skills, you have to be able to get them the ball.''

Duke was No. 1 for the third straight week and Michigan State was again second, but there were plenty of changes in the rest ofthe Top 25.The Blue Devils (9-0), who beat Davidson 102-60 and Michigan104-61 last week, received 60 first-place votes and 1,716 pointsfrom the national media panel. Michigan State (7-0), which beat Florida last week in a rematch of last season's nationalchampionship game, was No. 1 on nine ballots with 1,653 points.Stanford (6-0) moved up one place to No. 3, while Tennessee (8-0) jumped from sixth to fourth.Illinois (7-2), the only team in the top six to lose this season, moved from ninth to fifth after rallying from 21 pointsdown to hand Seton Hall its first loss of the season.Wake Forest (7-0), which beat then-No. 3 Kansas 84-53 Tuesday, had the week's biggest jump, going from 11th to No. 6. The ranking is the highest for the Demon Deacons since they were No. 4 on Feb. 24, 1997, during Tim Duncan's senior season.

Arizona, which dropped two places after losing at Connecticut, was seventh, followed in the Top Ten by Florida, Seton Hall and Kansas. Connecticut moved up four spots to lead the Second Ten and was followed by Syracuse, Southern California, Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Alabama and Maryland. The final five ranked teams were Notre Dame, Iowa, Mississippi, Georgetown and Arkansas.

Notre Dame, which lost at home to Indiana and Miami of Ohio last week, had the biggest drop, from 10th to 21st. The Top Ten ranking was the Fighting Irish's first since the 1985-86 season. The teams that fell out from last week were Utah, St. John's andIowa State.The other newcomers were Iowa (7-0), which beat Iowa State onSaturday, and Mississippi (7-0), the only team to beat Oklahoma this season.

Iowa was ranked for two weeks early last season, while Mississippi was in the Top 25 the entire 1997-98 season, getting ashigh as No. 10.Utah (4-4) lost to Utah State and Weber State last week toextend its losing streak to three games and dropped out from 22nd.St. John's (4-3) fell from 24th after losing to Fordham in its onlygame last week, while Iowa State (6-1) dropped from No. 25.

(Copyright 2000 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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