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Akron men’s basketball receives vote in AP Top 25 poll

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The Zips have caught the attention of the national voters after a fast start in MAC play.

NCAA Basketball: Akron at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The Akron Zips are playing some great ball in recent weeks, and their efforts seem to be catching the attention of some very important eyes.

The Zips were named to the Associated Press Top 25 poll as a member of the “receiving votes” category, getting one vote on the ballot. Other schools receiving one vote include St. Mary’s, Harvard and USC. The full list can be found here.

Akron is tied for the MAC East division lead with Kent State, sharing the same 13-3 (3-0 MAC) record as the Flashes after picking up a hard-fought 75-60 victory over Ball State in a cross-division clash on Friday night.

Highlights of the Zips’ season so far include narrow losses to then-12th ranked West Virginia and 11th-ranked Louisville. They’ve also notched impressive wins against teams from peer conferences, including Marshall (Conference USA), UMass Amherst (Atlantic 10) and Tulane (American Athletic Conference) in the young season.

Akron is on top of the MAC thanks to a high-scoring offense, as the Zips shoot at a 43.9 percent clip from the field (37.5 percent from three-point range) and average 76.2 points per game in 2019. They’ve also held up defensively, winning games by an average margin of 12.9 points per game.

The Zips have four players averaging double-digit scoring totals, while all shooting over 33 percent from three, including Loren Cristian Jackson (16.56 PPG, 3.1 rebounds per game), Tyler Cheese (15.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG), Xeyrius Williams (14.3 PPG, 9.6 RPG) and Channel Banks (11.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG.) Williams (19 blocks) and Banks (20 steals) have also been leaders on the defensive side, with all four players listed previously each notching at least 12 steals.

In their three conference tilts, the Zips have won by an average margin of 18 points, including a blowout win on the road to start the slate vs. an EMU team that impressed in the early portion of the season.

They next face Northern Illinois at 8 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday night, their first game action in nearly a week.