Arizona moves to No. 1 in AP poll; Syracuse No. 2

TUCSON, Ariz. — Some coaches shy away from a No. 1 ranking early in the season, worried about the impact it will have on their players' psyche.

Count Arizona's Sean Miller as one who embraces it.

Arizona moved up to No. 1 in The Associated Press' college basketball poll for the first time since 2003 on Monday, an honor Miller views as not only recognition for what the Wildcats have done this season, but validation for the direction the program has taken in his five years in the desert.

"There's tremendous satisfaction, no question," Miller said. "Embracing the fact that we're No. 1 is something I'm doing, our staff is doing and really our team is doing. It's an honor a lot of teams would love to have. It's something where no matter what happens the rest of the season, at some point we were ranked No. 1 in the country."

Coming off a hard-fought home win over UNLV, Arizona (9-0) received 63 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel to earn the No. 1 spot in a season for the sixth time. The Wildcats are the Pac-12's first No. 1 team since UCLA in January 2006.

Syracuse, which received the other first-place votes, and Ohio State moved up two places to second and third, while Wisconsin jumped four spots to fourth. Michigan State, which had been No. 1 for three weeks, dropped to fifth after losing 79-65 at home to North Carolina.

Louisville was No. 6, followed by Oklahoma State, Duke, Connecticut and Villanova.

Arizona was sixth in the preseason Top 25 after Miller added another stellar recruiting class to a team that reached the Sweet 16 of last year's NCAA Tournament.

Long, athletic and versatile, the Wildcats already have an impressive list of victories, including Texas Tech, San Diego State on the road and Duke in the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-off at Madison Square Garden.

"It's no secret that this year our goal is to be playing in Dallas (at the Final Four). This just starts it off," Arizona junior guard Nick Johnson said. "We've done some good things to start our season and we just need to keep it going."

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