Stanford, Duke still round out top three

Updated: December 20, 2004, 4:03 PM ET
Associated Press

Utah took advantage of several losses by Top 25 teams and squeezed back into The Associated Press women's basketball poll Monday while LSU remained a unanimous No. 1.

There was some shuffling after five ranked teams lost to unranked opponents during the past week, but Utah was the only newcomer.

Arizona State, which had been 23rd, dropped out after being ranked for just one week.

LSU (10-0) beat No. 13 Minnesota and Southwest Missouri State during a swing through the Midwest and received all 45 first-place votes from a national media panel.

It was the fourth straight No. 1 ranking for the Lady Tigers and the third consecutive time they've been unanimous.

Stanford (8-0), the only other unbeaten team in the Top 10, remained second after beating Missouri 71-55 in its lone game last week. The Cardinal, who are getting outstanding play from freshman Candice Wiggins, face their most challenging game to date Tuesday night at No. 9 Tennessee.

Duke (10-1), which has won eight straight since a Nov. 17 loss at Notre Dame, stayed at No. 3 -- 62 points behind Stanford. The Blue Devils' latest victory was an 18-point win over then-No. 20 Purdue.

Texas was fourth and Baylor fifth, followed by North Carolina, Notre Dame, Connecticut, Tennessee and Ohio State. This was the third straight week the Top Ten had the same teams.

No. 11 Michigan State, No. 12 Texas Tech, No. 13 Minnesota and No. 14 Boston College all held the positions from last week. Then it was Georgia, Vanderbilt and Maryland, followed by Iowa, DePaul and UCLA.

Purdue, Houston, Kansas State, Rutgers and Utah held the final five places.

Utah (8-2) has won seven straight after a 1-2 start that included narrow losses to Stanford and Michigan State. The Utes are coming off a stifling defensive performance, holding Loyola Marymount to nine second-half points in a 56-33 victory.

Utah was ranked for nine weeks last season, making its final appearance at No. 25 the week of Feb. 16.

Iowa (9-0), which joined the poll last week, made the biggest jump, going from 24th to 18th after beating Drake 80-69 in its only game.

Rutgers fell six places for the biggest drop, tumbling to 24th after losing to Temple and beating Clemson.

UCLA fell four spots to 20th after losing at Illinois, while Houston dropped from 19th to 22nd after a loss to Wake Forest.

A 61-45 loss at New Mexico knocked Arizona State (7-2) out of the Top 25.

Because of Christmas, this is another light week for games. The only other game involving two ranked teams is UCLA at Ohio State on Tuesday night. Utah could get a test at home Tuesday against Oklahoma, which was ranked in the first three polls this season.

Utah is the first team from the Mountain West to be ranked this season. The Big Ten leads with five teams in the Top 25 -- Ohio State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Iowa and Purdue.

The Big East, Big 12 and SEC each has four ranked teams.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press