HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For the eighth consecutive season, the Houston Cougars have 20 victories to their name. Of course, the latest win might as well have been the hardest fought of an elite-level season.
An 11-point comeback against Cincinnati on Saturday helped UH maintain its No. 3 ranking in the Associated Press Top 25, which was released on Monday.
Freshman Jarace Walker came up big in the win, earning a career-high 25 points to keep the Coogs on pace for a No. 1 seed for March Madness. Walker shot lights out, hitting 10 of 14 from the field.
"The ball was feeling good off my fingertips. I felt like everything was kind of falling. I feel like I still made the right plays. Just finding my teammates as well," Walker said Saturday night. "I felt like I was real comfortable out there tonight, real confident as well."
Houston (20-2) earned the No. 3 ranking for the sixth time this season, but the Coogs saw a small change in front of them. The Tennessee Volunteers leap-frogged UH to No. 2, benefiting from marquee wins over Georgia and No. 10 Texas.
What also remained the same was who was on the mountaintop. The Purdue Boilermakers continue to convince observers that they are the team to beat come tournament time. All 62 of the AP poll's first-place votes went to Purdue, marking the first time this season that a team was unanimously at the top spot.
Houston also notched a No. 3 ranking in the Coaches' Poll.
As for UH's tournament outlook, the Coogs remain the odds-on favorite to cut down the nets inside NRG Stadium on April 3. The Men's College Basketball Power Index gives Houston a 30% chance to win it all.
Those odds are buoyed by ESPN's Bracketology feature placing UH as a No. 1 seed in the West Region regardless of whether the team wins an automatic bid through the American Athletic Conference tournament.
Meanwhile, the AAC named Walker its Freshman of the Week for the fifth time this season. Junior Jamal Shead, who added 13 points and five assists against Cincinnati, was named to the conference's Honor Roll.
Houston begins February with two road matchups: at Wichita State on Feb. 2 and at Temple on Feb. 5. Both games will air on ABC13's sister network ESPN2.
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