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NCAAW AP 25: South Carolina, Baylor stay atop poll while Oregon climbs back into top five

Oregon Ducks forward Ruthy Hebard (24) grabs a rebound against Stanford on Monday in Eugene. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Oregon Ducks are back in the top five of the Associated Press women’s basketball rankings at No. 4 after defeating two Pac-12 opponents by a combined 82 points this week.

South Carolina held onto the top spot after playing only one game and Baylor stayed at No. 2 with back-to-back wins of at least 40 points against Kansas and ranked West Virginia.

UConn moved up a spot to third after Stanford lost to Oregon on Thursday. Oregon is fourth and Louisville held at fifth. The Cardinals received the only two first-place votes that didn’t go to South Carolina (22) or Baylor (six).

The rest of the top 10 is Stanford, Oregon State, North Carolina State, Mississippi State and UCLA.

AP Top 25 Week 12 (Jan. 20)

  1. South Carolina (17-1)

  2. Baylor (15-1)

  3. UConn (16-1) (+1)

  4. Oregon (15-2) (+2)

  5. Louisville (18-1)

  6. Stanford (16-2) (-3)

  7. Oregon State (16-2) (+1)

  8. N.C. State (17-1) (+1)

  9. Mississippi State (16-2) (+1)

  10. UCLA (16-1) (-3)

  11. DePaul (17-2) (+3)

  12. Kentucky (15-2) (-1)

  13. Gonzaga (18-1) (+3)

  14. Florida State (15-3) (-1)

  15. Texas A&M (15-3) (-3)

  16. Arizona State (15-4) (+2)

  17. Indiana (14-4) (-2)

  18. Arizona (15-3) (+3)

  19. Iowa (15-3) (+3)

  20. Maryland (13-4)

  21. Arkansas (15-3) (+2)

  22. Northwestern (16-2) (+4)

  23. Tennessee (14-3) (+1)

  24. South Dakota (17-2) (+1)

  25. West Virginia (13-3) (-8)

Receiving votes: Missouri State, Rutgers, Princeton, LSU, Florida Gulf Coast

Movement in the Pac-12

The Oregon Ducks, ranked sixth last week, soared to meet the challenge, first demolishing Stanford in a Thursday night showcase on ESPN and then shooting 60 percent in a 105-55 rout of Cal on Sunday.

The third-ranked Cardinal saved their week by eking out a 61-58 victory over Pac-12 foe Oregon State, ranked eighth, on Sunday after their brutal loss to Oregon earlier in the week. It saved them from dropping in the conference standings, which now feature three teams with only one conference loss.

UCLA, which was seventh last week, dropped into that category Friday night with a surprise loss to USC,70-68, in double overtime. It was the Bruins’ first loss of the season; they were expected to go a little deeper into the schedule before losing, but this women’s basketball season is far from predictable. The Trojans rallied and got double-doubles from Aliyah Jeune and Alissa Pili.

No. 18 Arizona State and No. 21 Arizona survived their respective trips to the state of Washington with two victories apiece, though it was tight.

DePaul climbs, West Virginia sinks

DePaul moved up three spots to No. 11, their best ranking since the end of 2011, per the AP. Northwestern entered the poll at No. 22, their first ranking since 2015-16. The Wildcats’ schedule is tough this week with Michigan State and Maryland.

“Our league is so deep right now it’s amazing,” head coach Joe McKeown said, via the AP. “You can’t get ahead of yourself as you look at the next game and say let’s go. It’s my 12th year in the league and it’s the deepest it’s been.”

West Virginia took a deep drop eight spots to No. 25. The Mountaineers suffered major losses to Oklahoma and Baylor. Missouri State dropped out of the poll altogether.

Monday’s ranked games

No. 1 South Carolina (17-1, 5-0 SEC) held its place in the rankings with a win over Missouri on Thursday, its only game of the week. Monday night it will host rival Mississippi State (16-2, 4-0) in a game that will determine the conference leader. It’s on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.

The Bulldogs are a half-game back of South Carolina, which leads the series 21-19. It’s a good chance for the No. 1 spot to change hands again, which would be a record fifth time a different team took over.

In the Big Ten, No. 20 Maryland will host No. 15 Indiana at 8 p.m. on Big Ten Network. The conference also features a tight race in the standings and has shown on any night, any team can win.

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