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Arizona men’s basketball jumps to 8th in Associated Press poll after win at Illinois

arizona-wildcats-mens-basketball-rankings-ap-top25-illinois-unbeaten-tommy-lloyd-2022 Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Saturday, the Arizona Wildcats played on a national stage and showed just what they’re made of, winning a hard-fought game at Illinois. Two days later, the Associated Press voters showed their appreciation for that performance.

Arizona has moved up from 11th to No. 8 in the latest AP poll, its highest ranking since early in the 2018-19 season when the Wildcats were No. 2.

The Wildcats (9-0) remained one of the seven unbeaten teams left in Division I after beating Illinois 83-79, getting 30 points from Bennedict Mathurin and a career-high 19 from Kerr Kriisa. Arizona erased a 13-point deficit to win its first nonconference road victory since beating UConn in December 2018.

The UA is one of three Pac-12 teams in the latest poll, all in the top 10, with UCLA at No. 4 and fellow unbeaten USC at No. 10. Those are the Wildcats’ next two conference foes, facing them Dec. 30 and Jan. 2, respectively.

Next up for Arizona home game this week against Northern Colorado (6-5) on Wednesday and Cal Baptist (8-2) on Saturday. The Wildcats head into Christmas break with a Dec. 22 trip to No. 18 Tennessee (7-2) before diving back into Pac-12 action at the LA schools.