Gonzaga strengthens grip on No. 1 spot in AP poll

A two-week layoff did not stop Gonzaga.
The Zags stepped up their hold on top spot in The Associated Press college basketball poll published Monday, gaining 61 out of 64 first-place votes from a media panel after beating then-number 1. 3 Iowa.
No. 2 Baylor got the remaining three votes in first place, and Kansas climbed two places to No. 3. Iowa and Villanova rounded out the top five.
Gonzaga showed no signs of rust after interrupting team activities for two weeks due to COVID-19 issues. The Zags (4-0) jumped on the Hawkeyes early and went 13 of 26 from 3-point range to win 99-88 at the Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
"They have a lot of guns," said Iowa's coach Fran McCaffrey.
Gonzaga had last played an 87-82 win against West Virginia No. 7 in Indianapolis on December 2. The Bulldogs canceled their showdown with Baylor on December 5th a few hours before the start because a player and an employee tested positive for COVID-19.
Gonzaga had to close after that, missing four home games before returning to the field last week.
The break went well for freshman Jalen Suggs, who had 18 of his 30 points against Iowa in the first half and went 7-10 from the 3-point arc.
"I've spent a lot of time alone in the gym for the past week and a half, only late at night to spend time getting shots under the gun," he said. "When I started this weekend I really felt my jump shot had improved and I was very comfortable with it."
TOP 10 LONG HORNS
# 10 Texas has made a big step forward in its sixth season under Shaka Smart.
The Longhorns (7-1) barely beat Davidson to open the relocated Maui Invitational, but beat Indiana and No. 17 North Carolina to claim the tournament title in Asheville, North Carolina.
Texas lost to Villanova by four but has since won three straight wins, most recently 77-74 against Oklahoma State.
The Longhorns also defeated Sam Houston State last week, helping them get into the top 10 for the first time since reaching # 6 in 2014-15.
SPARTAN FALL
The state of Michigan had climbed to # 4 after winning its first five games and stayed there last week.
The Spartans fell sharply after an unexpected loss on Sunday night.
The state of Michigan looked rusty in its first game in a week playing against Northwestern and fell into a big early hole before losing 79-65.
It was Northwestern's first win against a top five team in the AP polls since an 83-65 win over Magic Johnson and then No. 4 Michigan State on January 27, 1979.
The loss dropped the Spartans eight places to 12th this week.
"One of the more incompetent accomplishments of my 26 years," said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. "It's a tough statement. I blame myself. I'm the one who has to have my team ready."
No. 18 Illinois had the next largest drop, falling five places after losing to Rutgers.
RUTGERS CLIMB
Rutgers was voted into the preseason top 25 for the first time since 1978-79 and has continued to climb.
The Scarlet Knights improved with a 91-88 victory over the then No. 6 to 6-0. 13 Illinois, their first win in a game with both teams in 35 years.
As a result, Rutgers had the biggest jump of the week, climbing eight spots to 11th. The Scarlett Knights will play Ohio State # 23 on Wednesday, and one win could put them in the top 10 for the first time since 1975. 76.
# 19 Michigan had the second largest jump this week, taking six places.
MOVE IN
The undefeated Xavier was ranked 22nd for the first time this season. The Musketeers improved to 8-0 by hitting 19 3-point hits last week in a 99-77 win over Oklahoma and a win over Marquette.
Virginia Tech dropped out of the poll last week after losing to Penn State. The Hokies are back at number 24 this week after beating Clemson and Coppin State.
No. 25 Oregon also returned to election after victories against San Francisco and Portland.
ABSTRACT
The state of San Diego was eliminated from 18th place after a home defeat to BYU.
Clemson's loss to Virginia Tech knocked the Tigers out of the poll from 24th place.
Louisville was eliminated from 23rd after a blowout loss to No. 9 Wisconsin.
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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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