AP Top 25: Villanova climbs two more spots

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Villanova basketball keeps trending, with a big win over last year's Sweet Sixteen participant, La Salle, the Wildcats find themselves two places higher on the charts. Darrun Hilliard also gets named Big 5 Player of the Week

PHILADELPHIA, PA- For the first time since January 17, 2011, Villanova, who've been undefeated since the college basketball season has begun, has moved to eighth in the Associated Press' weekly Top-25 poll.

The Wildcats were recently ranked tenth in the poll after two wins over Big 5 opponents, Penn and St. Joseph's, and have climbed two spots after an assertive victory over La Salle on Sunday at the Pavilion. Villanova has also moved up two positions on the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll to 12th.

AP Top 25

Rank Team Points Previous
1 Arizona Wildcats (63) 1,673 1
2 Syracuse Orange (2) 1,528 2
3 Ohio St. Buckeyes 1,464 3
4 Wisconsin Badgers 1,381 4
5 Michigan St. Spartans 1,297 5
6 Louisville Cardinals 1,264 6
7 Oklahoma St. Cowboys 1,165 7
8 Villanova Wildcats 1,053 10
8 Duke Blue Devils 1,053 8
10 Connecticut Huskies 1,035 9
11 Wichita St. Shockers 923 12
12 Baylor Bears 898 14
13 Oregon Ducks 834 15
14 North Carolina Tar Heels 792 18
15 Memphis Tigers 755 16
16 Florida Gators 699 19
17 Iowa St. Cyclones 698 17
18 Kansas Jayhawks 482 13
19 Kentucky Wildcats 414 11
20 Colorado Buffaloes 405 21
21 Gonzaga Bulldogs 376 20
22 UMass Minutemen 351 22
23 Missouri Tigers 222 24
24 San Diego St. Aztecs 179 25

25

Iowa Hawkeyes 72 23

Hilliard Grabs Some Accolades

Villanova guard, Darrun Hilliard, was named the Big 5 Player of the week, the organization announced on Monday afternoon.

The 6-foot-6 junior scored 21 points and dished four assists to help Villanova defeat Big 5 rival, La Salle on Sunday afternoon at the Pavilion. When asked what winning the city-title would mean for the program on Sunday, Hilliard answered rather nonchalantly.

"Me personally, I didn't take to much notice to the Big 5 until I came here as a freshman," said Hilliard, a native of Bethlehem, PA, just 70 miles from the city's limits.

"But it would be a good accomplishment to the team and also our fans and the whole city that supports us. That would be great for the fans and the city of Philadelphia."

Head Coach Jay Wright has frequently referred to Hilliard as his team's most consistent player, especially on the ten-game undefeated streak that's spanned since early November. Hilliard is third on the team in minutes played (28.5), points per game (14.5), assists (3.1) and three point shooting percentage (39.6%). But what has flown under the radar is he may be the team's best defender, ranking first on the squad in steals (1.7) per game.

The Big East Conference also announced on Monday that Hilliard was named to their weekly honor roll for his impressive game against the Explorers, the first time he's received either accolade this season.

"I'm just trying to play hard," Hilliard responded after being asked what kept him in rhythm on Sunday. "I'm playing defense and trying to execute for my brothers out here. I'm not trying to do anything spectacular. I'm just trying to be solid."

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