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BYU basketball surges in the AP Top 25 poll

(Ringo H.W. Chiu | AP) BYU forward Yoeli Childs (23) dunks next to Pepperdine forward Kessler Edwards (15) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in Malibu, Calif.

Provo • About half of the Associated Press’ Top 25 lost at least one game in the past week, resulting in a shake-up in the new rankings released Monday.

And it benefited BYU, as the Cougars rose to No. 15.

The Cougars also found themselves ranked No. 9 in the NET rankings and 12th in Andy Katz’s latest Power 36 rankings.

BYU concluded its regular season on a nine-game winning streak and finished with a 24-7 record and 13-3 in West Coast Conference play — the best mark since joining the WCC in 2011. The 24 wins are also the most by any first-year head coach in BYU history.

The Cougars don’t play again until March 9, in the semifinals of the WCC Tournament. BYU finished second in league play, earning the team a triple-bye that puts the Cougars one game away from competing for the championship.

So, without a game to play for more than a week, any BYU move in the next Top 25 will be a result of how other teams perform.

Even if BYU falls short of making it to the WCC championship game, the Cougars are still a lock to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years and are guaranteed to have fewer than 10 losses for the first time since 2012.

The Cougars’ offense is on pace for its highest field goal percentage in 31 years. Their current 50.4% is higher than any season since 1988-89.

On Monday, during an ESPNU Radio show, Katz was asked to pick an NCAA tournament Cinderella team — and he thought of BYU.

“This isn’t a definition of Cinderella, because of their history, but I’m really, really high on BYU,” Katz said. "They’re good enough to get to Atlanta [for the Final Four].”

On Saturday at Pepperdine, Yoeli Childs scored a career-high 38 points that propelled him into the 2,000-point club. The senior also broke into the 1,000-rebound club earlier this season.

So, with 2,008 points and 1,043 rebounds, Childs became just the second player in WCC history to be a 2,000-point and 1,000-rebound player. The first to hit those numbers was Bill Cartwright, who played for the University of San Francisco (1975-79) and led the Dons to three trips to the NCAA tourney.

“[Cartwright is] an unbelievable player,” Childs said in Saturday’s BYU Sports Network postgame show. “To ... put my name next to his is an unbelievable honor. So, that’s pretty cool.”

On Monday, Childs repeated as the WCC’s men’s basketball Player of the Week for March 2. He now has four career Player of the Week honors.

At Pepperdine, Childs went 17 of 27 from the field, 1 of 3 from the 3-point range and 3 of 3 from the free-throw line.

“I’ve been so fortunate to have the coaches that I’ve had, to have the teammates I’ve had, to be in a system that believed in me and given me an opportunity,” Childs said. “I’m just so blessed to have these people around me and the credit really goes to them. It really does.”

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