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Monday, December 19, 2005
Updated: December 21, 6:36 PM ET
Ole Miss alumna Ross has team back in AP Top 25

Associated Press

Carol Ross achieved a rare double with Mississippi's appearance in The Associated Press women's basketball poll, which again had Tennessee, Duke and LSU in the top three spots.

Mississippi, which gained attention with an upset of then-No. 7 Rutgers last week, joined the poll Monday at No. 24 -- the first time the Lady Rebels have made the Top 25 since the final rankings of the 1995-96 season.

Ross, in her third season at Ole Miss, is the fourth in the women's game to have played for and coached a ranked team at the same school. She was a four-year starter for coach Van Chancellor at Mississippi from 1977-81.

"I think anytime you can do something positive ... and it takes place at your alma mater, it makes it all the more special," Ross said. "I think most people are drawn to and want to give back and do something for their alma mater and it's rare when you have an opportunity to actually do that."

Boston College also joined the poll for the first time this season, moving in at No. 23. North Carolina State and UCLA dropped out.

Tennessee (9-0) received 33 of 45 first-place votes from a national media panel and had 1,111 points to lead the poll for the third straight week. The Lady Vols beat Louisiana Tech 83-59 in their only game last week.

Duke (7-0) remained second with 10 first-place votes and 1,084 points -- 50 more than LSU (7-0), which was No. 1 on two ballots. LSU won three times last week, while Duke was idle during a light week for most teams because of semester exams.

There was some shuffling through the rest of the Top 10 after the Rutgers loss and the first loss of the season for Ohio State. Ohio State lost to LSU 64-48 in its only game and dropped from fourth to seventh. Rutgers' 67-57 loss at Ole Miss sent the Scarlet Knights from seventh to ninth.

Baylor moved up one spot to fourth after running the nation's longest winning streak to 29 with an 85-68 victory at Army. North Carolina climbed one place to fifth, Maryland jumped two places to sixth and Connecticut went from ninth to eighth. Stanford held at No. 10.

The next three teams -- Michigan State, Arizona State and Notre Dame -- stayed the same. DePaul climbed two spots to 14th after two decisive victories and Georgia moved up two places to 15th without playing.

Oklahoma was next, followed by Minnesota, New Mexico, Vanderbilt and Texas. Oklahoma fell one spot after losing at Illinois, while Minnesota dropped three places after an 18-point loss at South Carolina.

Purdue, Utah, Boston College, Mississippi and Temple completed the Top 25.

Mississippi (9-1) made 223 appearances in the AP poll and played in the NCAA Tournament 14 times under Chancellor, but the program went through seven straight losing seasons in SEC play after Chancellor left to coach the WNBA's Houston Comets.

Ross took a year off after resigning as Florida's coach, then was lured back to Oxford in 2003 and got the Lady Rebels into the NCAAs in each of her first two seasons. They have two wins over Top 25 teams this season, beating Texas Tech before knocking off Rutgers.

"We dream big," Ross said. "We talk a lot about possibilities. We don't limit ourselves by what other people think of us, what other people's expectations are. But you've got to get past the dreaming stage and get to the work stage and this team has a good work ethic.

"They embrace hard work and don't mind doing the little things that some teams might not want to do."

Boston College (9-2) is off to a strong start despite losing leading scorer Jessalyn Deveny from last season's 20-10 team, which was ranked all season and finished at No. 25.

Defense and rebounding have been the keys for the Eagles, who have lost to Connecticut and Ohio State. They're holding opponents to 33 percent shooting and 50.3 points a game and have a rebounding margin of almost 13 a game.

North Carolina State, which had been 23rd, dropped out after losing to Utah and beating Arkansas State. UCLA, 24th last week, lost to UC Santa Barbara in overtime in its only game.