College basketball: Virginia climbs to No. 1 in poll

Virginia fans cheer their team during the second half of a game against Virginia Tech in Charlottesville, Va. on Feb. 10.
(Steve Helber / Associated Press)

A loss didn’t prevent Virginia from climbing to No. 1 in the Associated Press men’s basketball poll for the first time in more than 35 years.

The Cavaliers rose a slot to sit atop Monday’s AP top 25 despite an overtime home loss Saturday to Virginia Tech, part of an upset-filled week that allowed for plenty of uncertainty in the poll.

The Cavaliers, 23-2 overall and 12-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, earned 30 of 65 first-place votes to outdistance No. 2 Michigan State and rise above the turmoil that included last week’s top three teams all losing.

Coach Tony Bennett’s team had been at No. 2 before this season, but this is the first time the Cavaliers have reached No. 1 since December 1982, in 7-foot-4 center Ralph Sampson’s senior season. And that team fell out of the top spot after an improbable upset loss to Chaminade.


Virginia looked set to reach the No. 1 spot after Villanova’s home loss to St. John’s before losing to the Hokies. Still, the Cavaliers ended up there a day after the NCAA selection committee had them as the No. 1 overall seed in its reveal of the top 16 seeds to date.

The Cavaliers — whose 12 previous weeks at No. 1 all came during the Sampson era — play with the top ranking for the first time since the Chaminade loss on Tuesday at Miami.

Kennedy out at Ole Miss

Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy and the school are parting ways after 12 seasons.

Kennedy announced Monday his decision to step down as head coach, effective at the end of the season. The decision comes two days after Ole Miss (11-14, 4-8 SEC) lost at LSU to extend its losing streak to five.

Kennedy is the winningest coach at Ole Miss with 245 wins, ranking 18th in SEC history. This season he picked up his 100th SEC regular season win and is the only Ole Miss coach to reach that accomplishment.

Kennedy was hired in March of 2006, replacing Rod Barnes who at the time was the most successful coach in program history. The Rebels won the 2013 Southeastern Conference tournament championship and have made the NCAA Tournament twice under Kennedy.

Yellow Jackets lose point guard

Georgia Tech point guard Jose Alvarado will miss the remainder of the season after fracturing his left elbow.

Coach Josh Pastner said Monday X-rays showed the fracture. The injury, suffered when Alvarado fell on his arm in Sunday’s 80-69 loss to No. 9 Duke, initially was described as a dislocated elbow.

Alvarado is second on the team with his average of 12.1 points per game and had been a durable mainstay in Georgia Tech’s lineup. The freshman played every minute in eight games, including the Yellow Jackets’ previous four contests.