<
>

Ohio State jumps to third, tying its best ever

Duke remained No. 1 in The Associated Press women's basketball
poll, and Ohio State matched its highest ranking in school history
with a jump to third.

No newcomers broke into the poll Monday, just the second time
that has happened this season. Purdue and UCLA clung to their spots
in the Top 25 despite losing twice (each) during the past week.

Duke received 31 of 45 first-place votes from a national media
panel and held the top spot for the second straight week -- with 1,104
points, 14 more than No. 2 LSU.

The Blue Devils (16-1) have overcome the season-long suspension of point guard Lindsey Harding and the loss of guard Caitlin Howe
with a knee problem to fashion the nation's longest winning streak
at 14. Their only game last week was an impressive 87-65 victory at
Virginia.

LSU, which was No. 1 for six weeks before Duke took over, inched closer to the top in replacing Baylor at No. 2 and received 13
first-place votes. It was the sixth time this season the No. 2 spot
changed hands.

Ohio State (17-2) climbed from fifth to third after beating
giant-killer Rutgers 52-50 Sunday and received the remaining first-place
vote. The Buckeyes haven't been ranked this high since they were
third in the final poll of the 1992-93 season, when Katie Smith led
them to the national championship game.

Rutgers, which had defeated three Top 10 teams during an
eight-day stretch in late December and early January, dropped from
fourth to sixth.

Baylor fell to fourth after a triple-overtime loss at Nebraska,
while Stanford won twice to move up one place to fifth. The
Cardinal's week included a 76-66 victory over No. 14 Boston
College.

Tennessee moved up to seventh and was followed by Michigan
State, North Carolina and Texas Tech, which jumped three spots to
reach the top 10 for the first time this season.

A 17-point loss at home to Connecticut dropped Notre Dame from seventh to 11th. The Irish rebounded to beat Purdue 86-69.

Minnesota was 12th, and Connecticut, which seems to be righting itself after some early struggles, rose from 16th to 13th. Then it
was Boston College, Texas and Maryland, followed by Vanderbilt,
DePaul, Iowa State and Kansas State.

Georgia, Iowa, Virginia Tech, Purdue and UCLA held the final
five places.

Texas dropped three spots after losing to Texas Tech and beating
Oklahoma State -- the third straight week the Longhorns have fallen
in the poll.

Iowa State made the biggest jump, going from 24th to 19th after
beating Kansas and Missouri. The Cyclones have won 11 straight,
matching the nation's second-longest winning streak. Unranked
Gonzaga also has won 11 in a row.

UCLA tumbled from 19th to 25th after losing to Arizona State and Arizona. Purdue lost to Minnesota before falling to Notre Dame --
the first time the Boilermakers have lost consecutive games since
December 2001 -- and slipped four places to 24th.