Indiana, USC join Top 25
Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
Kelvin Sampson's first Indiana team is where most of his Oklahoma squads spent quite a bit of time.
The Hoosiers moved into The Associated Press' Top 25 for the first time this season Monday, riding a five-game winning streak to No. 23 in the poll.
"It does and it doesn't," Sampson said when asked if being ranked really matters in this age of making the NCAA tournament being all that matters to the bigger programs.
"I might be wrong, but it seemed we were ranked every week for the past five or six years at Oklahoma and when you are good you take it for granted. With this team it does matter. It gives our kids confidence."
Sampson wasn't far off on his Oklahoma teams being ranked. The Sooners missed only 20 weeks in the polls from 1999-2000 through last season, and they were in the Top 10 for a good portion of that.
He was at Oklahoma for 12 years and took over at Indiana this season, succeeding Mike Davis, the man who followed Bob Knight. Davis resigned during the season and the players went through a rough time of deciding whether to stay for another coach or transfer.
"It's a process," Sampson said of taking over a new program. "It's not a matter of learning winning basketball, it's just playing the right way and understanding that. It was an attitude we had to instill."
The Hoosiers (14-4) were one of three teams to move into the rankings this week, joining Washington State (16-3), back in at No. 20 after one week out of the poll, and Southern California (15-5), which is in for the first time this season at No. 25.
The top four of Florida, Wisconsin, UCLA and North Carolina held steady from last week. Florida received 42 first-place votes and 1,759 points from the 72-member national media panel.
Wisconsin (19-1), which beat Purdue and Illinois last week, were No. 1 on 22 ballots and had 1,720 points. UCLA (17-1), which beat Arizona State and Arizona State last week, received six first-place votes and North Carolina (17-2), which beat Clemson and Georgia Tech, got the other two No. 1 votes.
Ohio State moved up two places to No. 5 and was followed by Texas A&M, Oregon, Kansas, Pittsburgh and Duke.
Memphis, which jumped six spots, was 11th, followed by Alabama, Oklahoma State, Butler, Marquette, Air Force, Arizona, Nevada, Clemson and Washington State.
The last five ranked teams were LSU, Notre Dame, Indiana, Virginia Tech and Southern California.
Indiana's only loss in its last 10 games was at Ohio State. Sampson credits D.J. White, who had 21 points in the Hoosiers' 77-73 win at Connecticut on Saturday, for being a big part of the team's success.
"Our team is good because D.J. White has allowed me to coach him," Sampson said of the senior forward who leads the Hoosiers in scoring (14.3) and rebounding (7.3) while shooting 53 percent from the field. "I have been harder on him than anyone else in practice and he has never been discouraged. He has only worked harder rather than dropping his head. I can't say enough about him as a person because he has taken the brunt of what I have tried to do as I have tried to coach through him."
Sampson also gave some credit to Davis, who was 115-79 in six seasons at Indiana and is now the coach at Alabama-Birmingham.
"When you're a coach who takes over a program you don't ever give the former coach enough credit," Sampson said. "Mike Davis brought these kids here and I thank him for that. Mike did a good job of putting them together."
Washington State moved into the rankings two weeks ago for the first time since 1983, then dropped out after a loss at Stanford, their only one in the last six games. The Cougars returned this week after a 75-47 victory over Washington.
Southern California, which won four of five with the only loss to UCLA, is ranked for the first time since the end of 2001-02.
Texas, Tennessee and Kentucky dropped out of the poll.
Texas (13-5), which was ranked for the past two weeks, fell out from No. 21 after two road losses last week. The Longhorns lost 105-103 in triple overtime to Oklahoma State and 76-69 to Villanova.
Tennessee, which lost to Auburn and beat South Carolina last week, fell out from 22nd, while Kentucky, which returned to the rankings last week after being out for seven weeks, dropped from 25th after beating South Carolina and losing to Vanderbilt.
Marquette, which won 77-74 in overtime at Pittsburgh on Sunday, had the week's biggest jump from 24th to No. 15.
There are three games between ranked teams this week. Clemson is at Duke on Thursday, while North Carolina is at Arizona and Oregon is at Washington State on Saturday.
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