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USC men are ranked for the first time since 2002

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

USC was ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press men’s college basketball poll released Monday, marking the first time the Trojans have been nationally ranked since March 2002.

The Trojans, 15-5 overall and 5-2 in the Pacific 10 Conference, were not ranked in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll, but were tops among “others receiving votes” with 48 points, four fewer than No. 25 Kentucky.

UCLA (17-1, 6-1) held its ground at No. 2 in the coaches’ poll and No. 3 in the AP poll.

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USC Coach Tim Floyd participates in the coaches’ poll but would not divulge whether he voted his team in the top 25.

USC, which has beaten four ranked teams and is tied with No. 20 Washington State for third in the Pac-10, is off to its best start since going 16-4 to begin 2001-02 -- a season that ended in the NCAA tournament.

“The biggest thing it does is put you in front of the [NCAA tournament] selection committee early on as a team that they should pay attention to, which is important,” Floyd said of his team’s AP ranking.

“At the same time, we know we’ve got seven of 11 [games] on the road and it really won’t mean anything if we don’t finish good. Maybe if we play well on the road this week we can stay ranked, and the longer you do it at this time of year probably helps you.”

USC and UCLA play in the Bay Area this week. The Trojans will be at Stanford and the Bruins at California on Thursday; USC plays at Cal on Saturday, UCLA at Stanford on Sunday.

Oregon (18-1, 6-1), the Pac-10 co-leader with UCLA, is No. 7 in both polls. Arizona (13-5, 4-4), which was swept by UCLA and USC last week, fell six spots to No. 17 in the AP rankings and is 19th in the coaches’ poll.

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USC junior guard Gabe Pruitt practiced at full speed Monday, two days after spraining his left ankle during the Trojans’ 58-49 victory over Arizona State, and is expected to be fine for the game against Stanford.... Floyd said USC has been invited to play in the Jimmy V Classic in December at Madison Square Garden against an opponent to be determined. The Trojans are also in discussions to play in an eight-team, nationally televised tournament next season at the Honda Center in Anaheim that will include teams from the Southeastern, Big East, Big Ten and Mountain West conferences. USC already is scheduled to play host to Kansas and Oklahoma at the Galen Center.

-- Ben Bolch

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The status of UCLA forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who sat out Saturday’s win over Arizona because of a sprained right knee, remained uncertain.

A school spokesman said Mbah a Moute would try to practice today after receiving treatment Sunday and Monday. The Bruins were off both days.

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Kay Yow will return to coach the North Carolina State women’s team after a two-month leave to treat a cancer recurrence. The 64-year-old Hall of Fame coach plans to resume her duties today, with her first game Thursday against Virginia.

Yow was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 and left the team in November after doctors found her cancer had returned.

She started chemotherapy in combination with new therapies. Dr. Mark Graham, Yow’s oncologist, said she will continue those treatments through the season, calling them “life-extending” instead of curative.

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Tennessee junior guard Chris Lofton, the Southeastern Conference’s leading scorer at 21.5 points a game, will miss Wednesday night’s game at Mississippi with a sprained right ankle, and Coach Bruce Pearl said it was unclear when he will return.


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