UMass moves up to No. 19 in hoop poll

About to embark on its Atlantic 10 schedule, the University of Massachusetts moved up four spots to No. 19 in this week's Associated Press poll.

The Minutemen, who cracked the top 20 for the first time since Feb. 24, 1998, are right in line with some of the game's true blue bloods, with Kansas checking in at No. 18, Duke at No. 16 and Kentucky at No. 14. UMass' rival to the immediate south, UConn, fell out of the rankings after losses to Houston and SMU.

The team has been in the poll for seven straight weeks, but being ranked hasn't lost its excitement for coach Derek Kellogg.

"It's been fantastic," Kellogg said Monday night on his weekly radio show. "The media exposure the university is getting in the Amherst area and nationally has been great, and the crowds at the Mullins Center have been great, especially with the students not around."

UMass also is No. 19 in the USA Today coaches poll, up from No. 22 last week.

The Minutemen improved to 12-1 with a 73-65 win over Miami (Ohio) last Saturday. They open conference play on Wednesday at the Mullins Center against St. Joseph's (7 p.m.), then host St. Bonaventure on Saturday (12:30 p.m.)

After that, UMass plays five of its next six on the road, including its final nonconference game at Elon.