Monday, January 31, 2005
Ohio St. at school-best No. 2
Duke stumbled and LSU and Ohio State were there to take advantage.
LSU replaced Duke at No. 1 and Ohio State rose to second on Monday to reach the highest ranking in school history in The Associated Press women's basketball poll.
It's the second time at the top for LSU, which was No. 1 for six weeks earlier this season. The Lady Tigers (19-1) beat Auburn 57-52 in their only game last week and received 43 of 45 first-place votes from a national media panel.
Ohio State (21-2) received one first-place vote and so did Duke (20-2), which slipped to third after a 56-51 loss at North Carolina. That victory, plus two others during the week, lifted North Carolina from 12th to ninth.
LSU, the nation's only Division I team with just one loss, had 1,123 points in the voting, while Ohio State had 1,052 and Duke 1,008.
Coach Pokey Chatman's reaction to returning to No. 1 was similar to how she felt the first time her team got there -- it's nice, but there's no time to celebrate.
"It's one of those things that will always be more exciting for the fans and the community than it will be for the kids and the coaching staff," Chatman said. "It's not a matter of downplaying it. It's nice to know our program has gotten to the point where it's recognized as a top program.
"But when the dust settles, it doesn't factor in to how we're preparing for Ole Miss," she said.
LSU plays at Mississippi on Thursday.
Ohio State continues to impress under coach Jim Foster, who had a long string of success at St. Joseph's and Vanderbilt before moving to Columbus in 2002. The Buckeyes had fallen from national prominence after reaching the NCAA championship game in 1993, but they've now appeared in 32 of the last 43 polls.
Foster, though, was more interested in next Sunday's game with Indiana than his program's ranking milestone.
"To me, it's an end-of-season reflection," Foster said. "You look back. During the season, I'm just sort of about the next game. I think it's probably there for discussion, for fans to discuss. But as far as the practical, day-to-day, where are you with the team, it just doesn't come into play."
Road victories over Wisconsin and Illinois last week extended Ohio State's winning streak to 10. Duke lost to North Carolina last Monday but then bounced back to beat two other Top 25 teams, Maryland and North Carolina State.
This was the third change at No. 1 this season. Tennessee led the first three polls before giving way to LSU, which lost its No. 1 ranking the first time after losing at Rutgers. Duke then led for three weeks.
There was some shuffling through the rest of the Top 25 but no newcomers, just the third time that has happened this season. The biggest change was Minnesota falling four places to 14th after an 81-68 loss at Penn State.
No. 4 Stanford, No. 5 Tennessee and No. 6 Notre Dame all held their positions from last week. No. 7 Rutgers and eighth-ranked Baylor swapped places, North Carolina was ninth and Michigan State climbed from 11th to 10th.
Connecticut, winner of the last three national championships, continued to bounce up and down, this time falling from ninth to 11th after a 65-59 loss to Notre Dame ended the Huskies' 112-game home winning streak in Big East play.
It was UConn's third loss at home, the first time that has happened since the 1992-93 season. The Huskies have been ranked as high as fourth this season and as low as 16th.
Texas Tech climbed one spot to 12th and Texas jumped two places to 13th. Then it was Minnesota, Kansas State and Boston College, followed by DePaul, Georgia, Iowa State and Maryland.
Vanderbilt, Temple, Penn State, Florida State and North Carolina State held the final five places.
North Carolina made the biggest gain in the poll with its jump of three places. After ending a 12-game losing streak to Duke, the Tar Heels beat Wake Forest and Georgia Tech.
Florida State, which joined the Top 25 last week for the first time in 14 years, lost at Miami and fell three places to 24th.
All but three teams in the poll are from the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC or Southeastern Conference. The exceptions are Stanford (Pac-10), DePaul (Conference USA) and Temple (Atlantic 10).