HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Cougars are about to escape the non-conference portion of their schedule maintaining their standing as a top school to reckon with deeper into the men's college basketball season.
The Coogs rebounded from a heartbreaking loss to a tough competitor - No. 8 Alabama - to not only blow out North Carolina A&T last Tuesday, but also got the resume-building win over former No. 2 team, Virginia, over the weekend.
Those wins put them at No. 3 in the Associated Press Top 25 and Coaches' polls, which were revealed Monday.
The only teams standing between them and the top ranking are undefeated programs Purdue and UConn, who placed first and second in the nation, respectively.
The Coogs have just one game in the coming week: their final non-conference game of the season against McNeese on Wednesday.
UH still maintains the top ranking in the College Basketball Power Index, thanks mostly to last Saturday's road win against the Virginia Cavaliers. The Cougars led at halftime for the 12th straight game and eventually survived with an elite program.
The win also set a precedent. Virginia is the highest-ranked team the Cougars defeated on the road in program history.
Two Coogs stars also notched awards on Monday. Jarace Walker, who led UH in scoring over the Cavaliers, was named American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year. And Marcus Sasser earned his first AAC honor roll of the season.
Looking ahead, the Cougars tip off the AAC portion of their schedule on the road against Tulsa on Dec. 28. They then get a test against Central Florida at home on New Year's Eve.