Kentucky mens basketball finishes regular season at No. 23 in AP Poll, third highest in SEC 


Jack Weaver

Kentucky Wildcats forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) holds the ball during the Kentucky vs. Florida mens basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 72-67. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Ayden Parece, Reporter

Kentucky mens basketball remained at the No. 23 spot in the week 18 AP Top 25 Poll on Monday.

After breaking into the Poll for the first time since Week 8 in the week 17 edition of the rankings, Kentucky managed to remain stagnant in the poll despite splitting its last week of regular season play. 

The Wildcats began their week with a disappointing 68-66 loss at home to the Vanderbilt Commodores on Senior Night, with the team being without point guard Sahvir Wheeler. The Wildcats new starting point guard, freshman Cason Wallace, then also exited the game early due to an injury which surely played a part in Kentucky’s loss in its final home game of the season. 

With no true starting point guard, the Kentucky Wildcats later redeemed themselves and earned a sixth quadrant-1 win with an 88-79 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks behind an Antonio Reeves 37-point performance in Fayetteville.  

Kentucky Wildcats guard Antonio Reeves (12) holds the ball during the Kentucky vs. Florida mens basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 72-67. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff (Jack Weaver)

As a result, Kentucky currently sits at a 21-10 overall record with a 12-6 conference record, enough to secure the third seed in the SEC tournament with a double bye to start tournament play. 

Although Kentucky’s status in the AP Top 25 remained the same, the top five ranked teams across the board did see some minor alterations.

The No. 1 Houston Cougars (29-2) once again sat atop the top 25, this time followed by the UCLA Bruins (27-4) at No. 2 after formerly No. 2 Alabama suffered a 67-61 loss to Texas A&M over the weekend. 

No. 3 Kansas (25-6) did not move, with the Jayhawks representing the Big 12’s highest seed while now No. 4 Alabama (26-5) followed just behind, having switched places with UCLA.

No. 5 Purdue (26-5) rounded out the top five, having not moved from the week prior.

With the addition of Missouri, which became No. 25, into the top 25 in the week 18 poll, the SEC surpassed the Big East to tie the Big 12 with the number of ranked representatives from each conference with five teams within the top 25.

Despite that, the Big 12 ranked significantly higher overall, with four teams within the top 15 as opposed to the Big East’s three and the SEC’s one. 

Alabama remained the SEC’s highest ranked team despite the two-spot drop while the aforementioned Kansas represented the Big 12 and No. 6 Marquette represented the Big East. 

Looking into the biggest movers in the rankings, the week 18 poll saw Baylor drop three spots from No. 7 to No. 10 after its 73-58 loss to Iowa State at home. In the opposite direction, UConn jumped three spots from No. 14 to No. 11 after back-to-back wins over DePaul and Villanova.

Circling back toward the upward trajectories from the week 18 poll, Xavier moved up four spots from No. 19 to No. 15 after back-to-back wins over Providence and Butler.

Looking back to the SEC, formerly No. 12 Tennessee dropped five spots to No. 17, just above conference opponent Texas A&M, which itself jumped six spots from No. 24 to No. 18. The Volunteers dropped after losing to Auburn while the Aggies marked the week’s biggest mover after the win over Alabama.

Another significant mover was Indiana, which dropped four spots from No. 15 to No. 19 after a blowout loss to Iowa at home. 

With the regular season now concluded, Kentucky approaches the SEC tournament as the No. 3 seed with a double bye before its first matchup. The Wildcats will return to action on Friday, March 10, in Nashville, Tennessee, at 7:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the tournament. The game will be aired live on ESPN. 

A full list of AP Top 25 can be viewed below:

  1. Houston Cougars (29-2)
  2. UCLA Bruins (27-4)
  3. Kansas Jayhawks (25-6)
  4. Alabama Crimson Tide (26-5)
  5. Purdue Boilermakers (26-5)
  6. Marquette Golden Eagles (25-6)
  7. Texas Longhorns (23-8)
  8. Arizona Wildcats (25-6)
  9. Gonzaga Bulldogs (26-5)
  10. Baylor Bears (22-9)
  11. UConn Huskies (24-7)
  12. Kansas State Wildcats (23-8)
  13. Virginia Cavaliers (23-6)
  14. Miami Hurricanes (24-6)
  15. Xavier Musketeers (23-8)
  16. Saint Mary’s Gaels (25-6)
  17. Tennessee Volunteers (22-9)
  18. Texas A&M Aggies (23-8)
  19. Indiana Hoosiers (21-10)
  20. San Diego State Aztecs (24-6)
  21. Duke Blue Devils (23-8)
  22. TCU Horned Frogs (20-11)
  23. Kentucky Wildcats (21-10)
  24. Creighton Blue Jays (20-11)
  25. Missouri Tigers (23-8)

Others receiving votes:

Oral Roberts (54), FAU (53), Utah State (32), Providence (26), Iowa State (23), Northwestern (16), West Virginia (15), Toledo (10), Pittsburgh (10), Charleston (9), Michigan State (9), VCU (8), Boise State (7), Iowa (5), USC (5), Vanderbilt (3), Maryland (3), Memphis (3), Arkansas (2), North Texas (1), Drake (1).