Lady Vols solid No. 1 in AP poll

Updated: December 12, 2005, 6:43 PM ET
Associated Press

Tennessee's support as the No. 1 team in women's basketball is growing.

The Lady Vols (8-0) led The Associated Press poll by an even-wider margin over No. 2 Duke on Monday, receiving 31 of 45 first-place votes from a national media panel and finishing with 1,109 points.

Duke (7-0) had 12 first-place votes and trailed Tennessee by 21 points. A week ago, Tennessee had a 26-18 edge in first-place votes and a 13-point lead.

LSU (4-0) remained third with two first-place votes and 1,014 points.

There were no newcomers after a relatively light week as players began taking final exams in the classroom. Three teams in the Top 25 -- LSU, Baylor and Stanford -- did not play at all. Nine others, including Tennessee and Duke, played just once.

Tennessee, which replaced Duke at No. 1 last week, beat George Washington 59-43 in its only game. Duke defeated TCU 92-52 and by the time the Blue Devils play again, hosting Ball State on Dec. 19, they will have been off for 12 days.

LSU (4-0) has been off even longer, going 15 days without playing before Monday night's game with New Orleans. While Tennessee and Duke have received most of the first-place votes all season, Paul Jones of the Columbus, Miss., Commercial Dispatch has stuck with LSU.

"I went with them at the first of the year, mainly because of Augustus and her ability to dominate just about any team," Jones said. "Since they haven't lost, I've kept them up there."

Seimone Augustus was the national player of the year last season and the only unanimous selection on the preseason All-America team last month. LSU's closest game among its first four was an eight-point win at Texas Tech in its opener.

"With Tennessee and North Carolina, I could easily put them No. 1," Jones said. "I thought North Carolina was very impressive in what they did to Connecticut. I've had them in my top three all year. And Tennessee, the way they've destroyed people has really been impressive, too."

North Carolina (9-0) climbed one spot to sixth after beating Connecticut 77-54 in Hartford, the Huskies' worst loss at home in coach Geno Auriemma's 21 seasons. The Huskies rebounded to win at Villanova three days later but still fell from eighth to ninth.

The top five stayed the same, with Ohio State fourth and Baylor fifth. Ohio State defeated Southern Cal 68-57 in its only game last week.

Rutgers slipped one place to seventh, and Maryland climbed one spot to eighth after decisive victories over Monmouth and Arizona. Stanford, which had been tied for 11th, moved up to 10th.

Maryland's No. 8 ranking is the highest for the Terrapins (8-1) since the week of Feb. 2, 1993, when they were seventh. They've lost only to Tennessee this season and the average margin in their victories is 35.5 points.

No. 11 Michigan State was up two places and No. 12 Arizona State jumped three spots, the highest ranking for the Sun Devils since they were 12th in the final poll of the 1982-83 season. Notre Dame fell from 10th to 13th after losing to Purdue.

Minnesota was 14th and Oklahoma 15th, followed by DePaul, Georgia, New Mexico, Texas and Purdue.

Vanderbilt, Utah, North Carolina State, UCLA and Temple held the final five places.

Purdue made the biggest jump in the poll, going from 24th to 20th, while DePaul and Temple fell five spots each.

DePaul lost its Big East opener at South Florida, then came back to beat Wisconsin-Green Bay. Temple lost at Stony Brook in its only game last week. That was Stony Brook's first game against a nationally ranked Division I opponent.

With exams continuing, this is another light week. Most teams play only once or not at all. The marquee game is LSU's visit to Ohio State on Thursday.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press