St. John's, the top team in the most powerful conference in the nation, moved into the Top 5 Monday in the United Press International college basket UPI Pollball ratings.

Nevada-Las Vegas was the unanimous No. 1 choice by the UPI Board of Coaches for the seventh straight week, while No. 3 Ohio State moved past Indiana following a win over the Hoosiers.Utah, 19-1, jumped ahead five places to 12th after victories over Colorado State and Air Force.

The Big East has been college basketball's predominant league all season, placing at least four members in the Top 25 every week. None of its nine teams has a losing record, and it is the only conference in the nation in which each school had at least nine wins through Sunday.

However, Big East members have been conspicuously absent from the Top 5 since conference play began a month ago and teams started knocking each other off. Every team in the Big East already has at least two losses in the conference, the earliest point in the season that has happened.

St. John's, 15-2, was not ranked in UPI's preseason ratings, but has gradually moved up the list all season. The Redmen took over the Big East lead on the strength of five straight wins, including close victories last week over Connecticut and Villanova.

"Look at the number of (Big East) games decided in the last minute or so, and we've been involved in about five of them," said St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca, who gained his 499th career victory in Saturday's win over Villanova.

This season, the Redmen have posted an overtime win over Providence, a two-point triumph over Pittsburgh and three-point victories over Connecticut and Villanova. In addition, St. John's lost an overtime decision to Syracuse.

"I think our experience helps us down the stretch," St. John's forward Billy Singleton said.

The Redmen will attempt to give Carnesecca his 500th win Wednesday night at Georgetown.

Nevada-Las Vegas, 15-0 and owner of the nation's longest winning streak at a school-record 26 games, earned all 41 first-place votes cast by the 42-member Board of Coaches to finish with 615 points. Arkansas remained No. 2 with 548 points.

No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Indiana flopped places for the third consecutive week. The Buckeyes, the only other undefeated Division I team in the nation at 17-0, moved back in front via a 93-85 triumph over the Hoosiers.

No. 6 Arizona, No. 7 Duke, No. 8 Syracuse and No. 9 North Carolina all slid down one place after suffering losses last week. No. 10 Nebraska, 17-2 after its win Saturday at Oklahoma, broke into the Top 10 for the first time in school history.

No. 11 UCLA slipped one spot. No. 13 East Tennessee State, No. 14 Louisiana State and No. 15 Southern Mississippi all remained unchanged.

Georgetown moved ahead four positions to 16th and No. 17 New Orleans vaulted up six places from last week. No. 18 New Mexico State improved four spots and No. 19 Virginia moved up two.

Oklahoma plummeted nine places to 20th after losses to Southwestern Louisiana and Nebraska, and No. 21 Kansas improved three positions. Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech tied for 22nd.

Southwestern Louisiana, a 103-101 victor over Oklahoma, entered the ratings at No. 24, and fellow newcomer Houston was 25th.


(Additional information)

UPI Top 25

NEW YORK (UPI) - The United Press International Board of Coaches' Top 25 college basketball ratings, with first-place votes and records through Jan. 27 in parentheses, total points (based on 15 points for first place, 14 for second, etc.) and previous week's ranking:

1. UNLV (15-0) 615 1

2. Arkansas (20-1) 564 2

3. Ohio State (17-0) 538 4

4. Indiana (18-2) 472 3

5. St. John's (15-2) 381 9

6. Arizona (16-3) 357 5

7. Duke (15-4) 354 6

8. Syracuse (17-3) 299 7

9. North Carolina (14-3) 289 8

10. Nebraska (17-2) 215 12

11. UCLA (15-4) 159 10

12. Utah (19-1) 107 17

13. E. Tennessee St. (15-2) 106 13

14. Louisiana State (13-4) 95 14

15. S. Mississippi (12-2) 69 15

16. Georgetown (12-5) 60 20

17. New Orleans (17-2) 43 23

18. New Mexico State (15-2) 39 22

19. Virginia (14-4) 33 21

20. Oklahoma (14-5) 29 11

21. Kansas (13-4) 24 24

22. (tie) Pittsburgh (15-5) 16 16

22. (tie) Georgia Tech (12-5) 16 25

24. SW Louisiana (14-5) 10 NR

25. Houston (12-6) 6 NR

NR - not ranked