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Rutgers moves to No. 4

Rutgers keeps rising, Connecticut is still falling and Duke is back at No. 1.

The AP women's basketball poll underwent more upheaval Monday,
nothing new in this season of change among the Top 25.

Duke replaced LSU as the No. 1 team, regaining the position it
held at the end of last season. Rutgers jumped from 14th to fourth
after beating its third Top 10 opponent in eight days, while
Connecticut slipped one spot to 16th after a 68-67 loss at home to
Tennessee, the lowest the five-time national champions have been
since they were 18th on Nov. 30, 1993.

UConn (8-4) has fallen in three straight polls after starting
the season at No. 4.

Rutgers was 24th only two weeks ago, then upset Tennessee, Texas
and LSU in succession. The Scarlet Knights' climb of 20 places was
the largest two-week jump in the poll's 29 years.

"I hope we can continue it," Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer
said.

Iowa State was the only newcomer, joining at No. 24 to replace
New Mexico.

Duke (15-1) became the third team to hold the top spot this
season, moving up from second after LSU's 51-49 overtime loss at
Rutgers. The Blue Devils have won 13 straight by an average of 32.6
points, but they aren't into celebrating their top ranking.

"I don't think it matters, to tell you the truth," center
Mistie Williams said. "Like everybody's saying, it's one strange
basketball season. Anything can happen. People that have claimed to
be No. 1 in their conference or in the nation aren't there anymore.

"I think it's just fun for everybody to know that, hey, maybe
it's our year."

Duke had never been No. 1 before the 2002-03 season. The Blue
Devils led the poll the first 12 weeks of that season and were No.
1 five times last season.

Tennessee was No. 1 the first three weeks this season. LSU then
led for six weeks.

Duke received 22 of 45 first-place votes from a national media
panel and had 1,093 points. Baylor (12-1) climbed one spot to
second, getting 12 first-places votes and 1,063 points. LSU (14-1)
slipped to third with seven first-place votes and 1,055 points,
while Rutgers had four first-place votes and 920 points.

Rutgers made the Top 10 for the first time since the week of
March 5, 2001, and reached its highest ranking since it was fourth
in the 1999-2000 preseason poll.

The Scarlet Knights have been helped by the return of senior
guard Cappie Pondexter, who sat out the first eight games for
personal reasons. They're also getting solid play from freshmen
Matee Ajavon and Essence Carson, who helped their team rally from
16 points down at Texas and 11 points down against LSU.

"They never say quit and they have been able to do what few
teams are able to do -- focus on each possession one at a time,"
Stringer said. "Focus on defense when you're on defense and focus
on offensive execution when you're on offense. It's great."

Ohio State jumped four places to fifth, Stanford climbed two
spots to sixth and Notre Dame fell three places to seventh after
losing at Villanova. Tennessee went from 10th to eighth, while
Michigan State and North Carolina tied for ninth.

North Carolina dropped from fifth after losing at Maryland.
Michigan State lost at Ohio State and dropped three places.

Minnesota remained 11th and Texas, which has been ranked as high
as second this season, dropped from seventh to 12th after losing at
Baylor.

After Texas Tech at No. 13, it was Boston College, Maryland,
Connecticut, Vanderbilt, Georgia, UCLA and Purdue. Maryland made
the biggest jump in that group, going from 21st to 15th after its
92-77 victory over North Carolina. It's the highest ranking for the
Terrapins since they were 11th in the final poll of the 1992-93
season.

The final five teams were Purdue, Iowa, DePaul, Kansas State,
Iowa State and Virginia Tech.

Iowa State (12-1) came in with a nine-game winning streak that
included a 78-59 victory over then-No. 20 Kansas State. The
Cyclones were last ranked the week of Nov. 25, 2002, when they were
20th.

New Mexico, which had been ranked for the first time in school
history, lost at Minnesota 75-35 and dropped out after two weeks in
the Top 25. The Lobos were 23rd.