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UNLV basketball moves into AP Top 25 at No. 18

UNLV’s upset of previously top-ranked North Carolina in the finals of the Las Vegas Invitational on Saturday vaulted the Rebels into The Associated Press college basketball poll for the first time this season at No. 18.

The Rebels, 7-0 under first-year coach Dave Rice, defeated the Tar Heels 90-80 in the championship game of the Thanksgiving holiday tournament at Orleans Arena. UNLV was ranked in the weekly Top 25 poll for four weeks last season.

The Rebels are No. 20 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, also released Monday.

North Carolina (5-1) dropped to fifth in the AP poll, surrendering the top spot to Kentucky (6-0), which moved up from No. 2. The Wildcats returned to No. 1 for the first time since the 2009-10 season, receiving 46 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel.

Ohio State (6-0) climbed from third to second and had 17 first-place votes, while Duke (7-0), which won the Maui Invitational, jumped from sixth to third and had the other two No. 1 votes.

Syracuse, North Carolina, Louisville, Baylor, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Florida rounded out the top 10.

Saint Louis (6-0), which beat Boston College, Villanova and Oklahoma to win the 76 Classic, moves in at No. 23, the Billikens’ first time in the poll in almost two decades.

North Carolina is at Kentucky on Saturday, a matchup that would have had No. 1 facing No. 2.

This is Kentucky’s 90th week at No. 1, fourth on the all-time list behind UCLA (134), Duke (122) and North Carolina (108).

Before the one-week appearance at No. 1 in 2009-10, the Wildcats’ last time on top of the rankings was the final poll of 2002-03.

Xavier climbed one spot to 11th and was followed by Alabama, Missouri, Michigan, Kansas, Marquette, Pittsburgh, UNLV, Gonzaga and Vanderbilt. The last five ranked teams were Mississippi State, Memphis, Saint Louis, California and Texas A&M.

Florida State (5-2) dropped out from 22nd following losses to Harvard and Connecticut in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Arizona (4-2) fell from No. 23 after a home loss to San Diego State.

Missouri made the week’s biggest jump, using easy victories over Notre Dame, California and Binghamton to move from 21st to No. 13. Memphis, which lost to Michigan and Georgetown in the Maui Invitational, had the biggest fall, dropping from No. 8 to 22nd.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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