Only second time a league has filled top 3

Updated: November 22, 2004, 6:42 PM ET
Associated Press

One league, three teams, all at the very top. A banner day for the Southeastern Conference in The Associated Press women's basketball poll -- and a 10-year low for Connecticut.

SEC rivals Tennessee, LSU and Georgia stood 1-2-3 in the poll on Monday, just the second time a league filled the leading three spots.

Auburn, Tennessee and Mississippi of the SEC held the top three places the week of Jan. 9, 1989. The AP poll started in 1976.

"It says what my body tells me after 26 years -- it's a tough grind in our league," said Georgia coach Andy Landers, whose team moved up two spots after beating then-No. 2 Texas.

"Our conference has always been very competitive," he said. "Certainly this is a year that's somewhat exceptional, at least at this point in the season."

While the SEC soared, Connecticut dropped from fourth to eighth after a 71-65 loss to North Carolina, the earliest the Huskies have lost since they were beaten by Louisiana Tech in their 1995-96 season opener.

UConn, winner of the last three national championships, hasn't been this low in the rankings since it was ninth the week of Feb. 1, 1994. That was the season before the Huskies won the first of their five NCAA titles.

North Carolina (ninth to fifth) and Notre Dame (11th to sixth) both made major jumps, while Penn State dropped out from No. 23 after losing all three of its games. The shuffling came about after ranked teams played each other seven times during the past week.

Tennessee remained a solid No. 1 after opening the season with road victories over Chattanooga and North Carolina State. The Lady Vols received 32 of 45 first-place votes from a national media panel and had 1,111 points.

LSU (4-0) climbed one spot with 13 first-place votes and 1,088 points. Georgia (2-0), which came from 15 points down to beat Texas 78-64 Sunday night, had 1,007 points.

Texas dropped to fourth, followed by North Carolina and Notre Dame, which won the preseason WNIT by beating ranked teams Duke and Ohio State in the final two rounds.

Stanford held at No. 7, and was followed by UConn, Baylor and Duke, which dropped four places.

Ohio State fell one spot to 11th and Texas Tech was 12th. Then it was Michigan State, Vanderbilt, Purdue and Kansas State, followed by Rutgers, Minnesota, DePaul and Boston College.

The final five were Oklahoma, Maryland, Louisiana Tech, Villanova and Arizona.

Villanova was the lone newcomer, getting in after beating visiting Penn State 73-65. Penn State is 0-3 for the first time in coach Rene Portland's 25 seasons; the Lady Lions also lost on the road to Texas and Duke.

Georgia got 27 points from freshman Tasha Humphrey against Texas, a victory Landers is trying to take in stride.

"I think people around here are more excited about it than I am," he said. "The bottom line is Georgia has to get better and Texas is going to get better.

"It was a good measure for us. It exposed things in ways both positive and negative. But I don't look at the 'W' as being as significant as it would be in late January or February."

By then, Georgia will be in the thick of the SEC race.

"I'm just dying for that," Landers said with a laugh. "I told our kids before practice, 'I rather suspect the SEC will be 1-2-3 in the poll. So good luck. Let's get started.' "


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press