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ASU Basketball: No. 5 Sun Devils earn highest ranking since 1981

And their best start since the 1974-75 campaign.

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Arizona State Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Forget that the Arizona State Sun Devils have made the NCAA Tournament just three times in the last 22 years, own two straight losing seasons prior to this one or have had just three players drafted into the NBA since 2005.

Arizona State landed No. 5 in the AP Top 25 Poll on Monday morning and earned five first-place votes after a program-defining 95-85 win over Kansas on Sunday.

Villanova, Michigan State, Wichita State and Duke rank ahead of Arizona State, respectively.

Kansas fell from second to 13th, while Arizona squeezed back into the rankings at 23rd. The Wildcats and Sun Devils are the only Pac-12 teams ranked.

At fifth in the nation, it’s the highest ASU has ranked since the 1980-81 season when the Sun Devils clinched No. 3 in the final AP Top 25. Led by Byron Scott, Alton Lister and Fat Lever, ASU finished that season 24-4 with a second round loss to Kansas in the 1981 NCAA Tournament.

Third is the highest ASU has ranked in program history. Prior to 2017, the closest ASU achieved to third was twelfth in 1995.

Wins over San Diego State, Kansas State and then-No. 15 Xavier shot them into the rankings at 20th on Nov. 27. Then, a win over San Francisco pushed the Sun Devils up to 16th on Dec. 4. ASU jumped 11 spots up to fifth on Dec. 11.

Ranked third in the latest RPI, the Sun Devils own wins over three teams in the RPI Top 25: Kansas (22), Xavier (18) and St. John’s (17).