The Temple Owls, who cracked the

Associated Press

Top 25 last week for the first time since November 2001 last week, have climbed higher.

The Owls are now ranked 18th in the AP poll, after joining the poll last week at No. 21.

"This is great for the university, the students, alumni and fans of the program," coach Fran Dunphy said in a statement, adding that the Owls remained focused first on last night's opponent, Bowling Green. Temple improved to 10-2 with a win over the Falcons.

"We just need to continue going about the business of getting better as a basketball team – one game at a time," said Dunphy, whose team visits Northern Illinois tomorrow, then hosts No. 1 Kansas on Saturday.

Villanova (11-1) remained No. 8 in the rankings.

Kansas (11-0) was again a runaway No. 1, as it has been since the preseason poll, as the top eight teams remained the same for the third straight week.

Texas was second, followed by Kentucky, Purdue, Syracuse, West Virginia, Duke, Villanova, North Carolina and Connecticut.

Michigan State was 11th, followed by Kansas State, Georgetown, Tennessee, Ohio State, Mississippi, Washington, Temple, New Mexico, Texas Tech, Clemson, Florida State, Wisconsin, UAB and Northwestern.

In the women's poll, Connecticut was No. 1 for the 32nd straight week.

Stanford was No. 2, followed by Notre Dame, Tennessee, Baylor, Ohio State, North Carolina, Duke, Georgia and Texas A & M. LSU, Florida State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Xavier were the next five. Michigan State was 16th followed by Texas, Vanderbilt, Arizona State and Pittsburgh. Kansas, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Virginia, Georgia Tech and James Madison rounded out the Top 25.

In games last night:

* At North Carolina, freshman Dexter Strickland scored a season-high 18 points, including a key three-pointer late, to help the No. 9 Tar Heels (10-3) beat Rutgers, 81-67.

* At Indiana, Hoosiers top scorer Maurice Creek, who also is the leading freshman scorer, fractured his left knee in the team's 90-42 win over Bryant and will have surgery today. Creek, who is averaging 17.6 points, likely will miss the season. After being fouled early in the second half, he landed awkwardly on his leg and crumbled to the ground.

* At Florida, Alex Tyus had 20 points and nine rebounds, Kenny Boynton added 19 points and the Gators (9-3) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 76-60 victory over American.

* At Pittsburgh, Ashton Gibbs scored 23 points and the Panthers bolted to a 13-point lead in the opening 6 1/2 minutes to take control, and Pitt (11-2) held off a late rally to defeat DePaul, 65-52, in the Big East opener for both teams.

* At Richmond, Kevin Anderson made two free throws with 30.2 seconds remaining and finished with 24 points, and the Spiders (10-3) defeated North Carolina-Wilmington, 66-64.

In women's games:

* At Florida State, Tina Charles scored 16 of her 24 points in the second half to lead No. 1 Connecticut (11-0) to a 78-59 victory over the 12th-ranked Seminoles for its 50th straight win. Jacinta Monroe led Florida State (11-2) with 14 points and freshman Chasity Clayton added 12.

* At Duke, Joy Cheek scored 16 points to help the No. 8 Blue Devils (10-2) beat North Carolina Central, 117-28, in the biggest rout in school history. The 89-point victory margin was the sixth biggest in women's Divsion I basketball over the past 10 years, according to STATS. *