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Monday, February 20, 2006
Lady Vols make 500th appearance in AP poll

Associated Press

Make it 500 for Tennessee and a second straight week for Duke at No. 1.

Tennessee made its 500th appearance in The Associated Press women's basketball poll Monday, the first school to reach that figure. Duke, meanwhile, tightened its grip on No. 1 after its main challenger last week, LSU, lost for the second time this season.

North Carolina went from third to second, setting up a 1-2 meeting with Duke in Chapel Hill next Saturday. The Tar Heels moved to No. 1 three weeks ago after beating Duke in Durham but then dropped to third last week following a loss to Maryland.

The bottom of the poll underwent considerable shuffling after the teams ranked 17th through 22nd last week went a combined 0-8. Five of those losses were to higher-ranked opponents and no one dropped out.

Unranked Wyoming was responsible for two of the other losses, by New Mexico and BYU.

Tennessee (24-3), which remained fifth, has been ranked in all but 14 polls and is on a run of 373 consecutive appearances. No. 20 Louisiana Tech is second in appearances with 444. The poll started in 1976.

Duke (24-1) received 39 of 45 first-place votes from a national media panel and had 1,119 points to lead the poll for the fifth time this season. But the Blue Devils had to survive a close call to stay on top -- a 99-93 victory at Miami in two overtimes on Sunday. They had defeated No. 4 Maryland earlier in the week.

North Carolina (24-1), which played Boston College on Monday night, had the remaining six first-place votes and 1,079 points, while LSU (23-2) slipped from second to third with 992 points. LSU split two games last week, losing at Florida 79-78 in overtime and beating Arkansas 64-42.

Last week, Duke had 23 first-place votes, LSU 20, North Carolina one and Maryland two. Duke led LSU by just 12 points in that voting.

The next six teams were unchanged. Maryland bounced back from the loss at Duke to defeat Boston College and North Carolina State and held at No. 4. After Tennessee in fifth, it was Ohio State, Rutgers, Connecticut and Oklahoma. Baylor jumped two spots to 10th.

Arizona State climbed four places to 11th after running its winning streak to eight with victories over Stanford and California. Purdue lost at home to Indiana and dropped two places to 12th, while Georgia remained 13th and Michigan State held at No. 14.

Stanford tumbled four spots to 15th and DePaul was still 16th. Then the movement really began.

Losses to Ohio State and unranked Wisconsin dropped Minnesota from 17th to 22nd. The Gophers, who were 11th two weeks ago, have lost four straight.

Boston College, 18th last week, lost to Maryland in its only game and tied Temple at No. 17, while BYU went from 19th to 21st and New Mexico from 20th to 23rd after the losses to Wyoming. Vanderbilt, a loser to Georgia, fell two places to 24th and Texas A&M dropped four spots to 25th after losing to Baylor and Oklahoma.

Temple climbed six places to its No. 17 ranking to match Utah for the biggest jump in the poll. Utah went from 25th to 19th. Louisiana Tech was up four places to 20th.