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Florida continues to dominate, edges Indiana in UPS Team Performance Index

(AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

(AP) -- Indiana is playing well enough to have regained the top spot in The Associated Press poll, but it still wasn't able to supplant Florida from the No. 1 position in the UPS Team Performance Index.

The Gators topped the index again, followed by the Hoosiers and Stephen F. Austin, to comprise a top 3 that remained unchanged from a week ago.

In conjunction with STATS LLC, UPS has created a proprietary algorithm that gauges six major statistics covering the spectrum of a team's on-court performance: effective field goal percentage, effective field goal percentage against, rebounding percentage, ball-handling efficiency, miscues and winning percentage.

From there, the data is normalized and an overall index is created for all 345 NCAA Division I teams. The scores are not meant to reflect a traditional power poll, per se, but measure a broad range of inside-the-lines excellence and overall balance.

Now winners of 10 straight by an average margin of 25.0 points, Florida moved up two spots to No. 2 in the AP Top 25 after beating South Carolina and then-No. 16 Mississippi by a combined 53 points. The Rebels were expected to give the Gators their first serious test since a loss at Kansas State before Christmas, but instead trailed by 13 at halftime and were held to 38.2 percent shooting in Saturday's 78-64 loss.

That type of stinginess has become the norm for Florida, which ranks second nationally in scoring defense (51.1 per game) and third in opponents field-goal percentage (36.0).

"This is my seventh Florida team to play. One of those was the national championship team that had NBA lottery picks on it," Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy said. "I don't even remember a Florida team guarding with that intensity. I was really impressed with the way they defended."

The Gators rank in the top 10 in four of the index's six categories - offense, defense, rebounding and, not surprisingly, winning percentage. If that wasn't enough of a testament to its balance, Florida's gap of 16.6 points between effective field-goal percentage for (57.6 percent) and against (41.0) remains the largest among all Division I schools.

"I think they will contend for the national championship," Mississippi guard Marshall Henderson said. "We have seen how they have been blowing people out. They executed perfectly. ... I see them being No. 1 in the country by the end of the season."

For now, however, that distinction belongs to Indiana, which trails Florida by less than two points in the index.

The Hoosiers began the season atop the AP poll and held that spot until losing 88-86 in overtime to Butler in Indianapolis on Dec. 15. They've won 11 of 12 since and regained that No. 1 ranking Monday - two days after knocking off previously top-ranked Michigan 81-73 at Assembly Hall for their fifth consecutive win.

"It's a huge accomplishment," junior forward Victor Oladipo said. "You know we started there, we had a hard road to get back here. We're just going to continue to keep working."

The Hoosiers rank second nationally averaging 83.8 points per game and are fourth in rebounding, according to the index's criteria. What gives Florida the slight edge in the overall index is the fact that Indiana's defensive rank is 18th.

That said, where the Hoosiers sit in any ranking system doesn't seem to be of much concern to coach Tom Crean in early February.

"I think they truly are learning that those things are nice, but playing to improve, to win games like this, to face some adversity and fight through it, that's what matters," he said.

While the top portion of the AP poll received a shakeup due to losses by Michigan and Kansas, the Nos. 1 and 2 teams respectively last week, the top 10 of the index saw little movement. Gonzaga made the biggest jump, albeit a modest one, from sixth to fourth and Arizona moved up one to No. 10.

Syracuse was the only previous member of the top 10 to fall out, sliding from eighth to 11th after losing 65-55 at Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Riding a three-game winning streak and likely glowing after alumnus Joe Flacco earned Super Bowl MVP honors for the victorious Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Delaware jumped 51 spots from 246 to 195 to record the index's biggest rise from last week.

South Carolina, which shot 31.1 percent while scoring its fewest points of the season in a 75-36 loss to Florida on Wednesday, suffered the largest drop from 109 to 158.

One week after seemingly turning the corner and beating a pair of top 5 teams in Louisville and Syracuse, Villanova followed with losses at Notre Dame and at home to a .500 Providence team, falling 32 positions back to 155.

Grambling State, Division I's only winless school at 0-19, rounded out the rankings.

Updated February 4, 2013

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