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
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.' "