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Tennessee replaces Blue Devils at the top

Welcome back, Tennessee. It's been awhile.

The Lady Vols were No. 1 in The Associated Press women's
basketball poll Monday, their first appearance atop the rankings in
nearly three years.

Tennessee moved up one spot to replace Duke after beating the
Blue Devils 72-69 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday night.

Tennessee (16-1) received 44 of 47 first-place votes and 1,172
points from a national media panel in earning its 91st No. 1
ranking -- but first since the week of Feb. 26, 2001.

Duke was No. 2 with one first-place vote and 1,096 points.

The Lady Vols also knocked Duke from its No. 1 perch in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll, which was released Tuesday.

Monday's rankings must have seemed bittersweet for Tennessee. Team officials announced that point guard Loree Moore will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL suffered in the win against Duke.

There was, however, more good news for the Lady Vols: Pat Summitt wants
to keep coaching the team. Summitt, 51, has signed a new contract
to coach through the end of the 2007-08 season.

Tennessee ended its second-longest stretch away from No. 1; its
record drought was from December 1978 to December 1986.

"I think in this program it's not so much about being ranked
No. 1. It's about being prepared for postseason," Summitt said.
"With that in mind, we play some of the best teams, not only in
the Southeastern Conference, but outside our league.

"So when I look at that, I'm not surprised it's been awhile."

The Lady Vols certainly haven't taken it easy this season. Ten
of their opponents have been or are currently in the Top 25, and
their only loss was against No. 3 Texas.

"When it looked as though maybe I'd given them a schedule that
was too challenging, I kept reminding myself why we play this
schedule, and they kept getting it done," Summitt said.

"They're really a special group. They've had great chemistry."

Duke (15-2) spent three weeks at No. 1 after replacing
Connecticut, which led the first eight polls of the season and is
now fourth.

Texas (17-2) remained third with two first-place votes and 1,074
points.

There were numerous changes throughout the poll, including three
newcomers: No. 23 Virginia Tech, No. 24 Vanderbilt and No. 25
Nebraska, ranked for the first time since November 1999. Villanova,
Boston College and Houston dropped out.

Connecticut moved up one spot, while No. 5 Penn State and No. 6
Purdue each climbed two places. Texas Tech, tied with Texas for
third last week, dropped to seventh after a double-overtime loss to
unranked Oklahoma State.

Stanford fell from sixth to eighth after losing to Southern
California, while Louisiana Tech climbed two spots to ninth, and
North Carolina went from 13th to 10th.

No. 11 Colorado also jumped three places, while Kansas State
lost to Nebraska and dropped from ninth to 12th.

DePaul moved up two spots to 13th, followed by Minnesota, LSU,
Baylor, Miami, Michigan State, Georgia and Oklahoma. TCU, Auburn,
Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt and Nebraska held the final five places.

Virginia Tech (15-3) returned to the poll after being out for a
week, while Vanderbilt (15-3) had a three-week absence.

Second-year coach Connie Yori has turned things around at
Nebraska after going 8-20 last season. The Cornhuskers (14-3) lost
at Texas Tech last week but were impressive in beating Kansas State
81-63.

Villanova, Boston College and Houston each lost this week.
Boston College was ranked for seven weeks, Villanova for two, and
Houston for just one.