Riding a 12-game win streak and fueled by one of the most efficient offensive attacks in the nation, Tennessee ascended to the top spot in Monday’s updated Associated Press Top 25 rankings.
It marks the second time in program history that the Volunteers have earned the top spot in the AP poll. The first came on Feb. 25, 2008.
As of Monday’s rankings update, Tennessee has occupied a spot in the AP Top 25 for 27 consecutive weeks. That is the third-longest such streak in school history.
Fourth-year head coach Rick Barnes and his defending SEC Champion squad navigated a pre-conference schedule that rated among the most challenging in the country before opening SEC play with five straight victories. Tennessee has no losses in regulation—its only setback coming in overtime against then-No. 2 Kansas at a neutral site. The Vols on Dec. 9 defeated then-top-ranked and undefeated Gonzaga on a neutral floor.
Tennessee has defeated all but one unranked opponent it’s faced by double digits and boasts an overall scoring margin of +19.5.
The Big Orange also boast two of the top scorers in the Southeastern Conference, as Grant Williams (18.9 ppg) and Admiral Schofield (17.4 ppg) rank first and third, respectively.
Senior forward Kyle Alexander is the second-most prolific shot blocker in school history, and junior point guard Jordan Bone is on track to shatter Tennessee’s all-time record for assist/turnover ratio.
Each of those four players have logged double-doubles this year, making UT one of only a handful of major-conference programs with four different individuals who have done so.
And junior guard and Knoxville native Jordan Bowden is making a case for SEC Sixth Man of the Year consideration, as he averages a team-best 17.6 points per game—off the bench—during SEC play.
During his tenure as head coach at Texas, Barnes led the Longhorns to the No. 1 spot in the AP poll for two weeks in January 2010. In total, he has now led his teams to 243 total weeks in the AP Top 25. That includes 110 weeks in the top 10.
Fans have their first opportunity to cheer on the top-ranked Vols when Tennessee travels to Nashville for a sold-out, Wednesday night game at Vanderbilt. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2. The Big Orange then return to Rocky Top to host West Virginia Saturday at 4 p.m. ET (ESPN2).