Arkansas cracks Top 25 in women's poll
Jimmy Dykes knew his first year coaching at Arkansas was going to have its ups and downs.
So far the former ESPN commentator hasn't seen many downs, as the Lady Razorbacks jumped into The Associated Press women's basketball poll on Monday at No. 25.
His team is ranked for the first time since Dec. 31, 2012, after Arkansas improved to 6-0 by winning the South Point Thanksgiving tournament in Las Vegas. The Lady Razorbacks beat then-No. 17 Iowa in the process.
''I told my players before practice and I congratulated them on earning the Top 25 ranking,'' he said. ''We earned it. No one will give us anything. All this does those is increase the target on our back. We need to continue to be humble and hungry. If we lose sight of that we won't be who we're supposed to be.''
Dykes said he received a lot of text messages and social media comments from friends Monday when Arkansas got ranked.
''I try to respond to as much as I can. They're my friends,'' he said. ''It's nice of them to reach out to me and I know they'll reach out to me when we reach a hard skid. We're in the most difficult league in the country.''
Arkansas has a tough road ahead with home games this week against South Dakota State and No. 18 Rutgers.
The Lady Razorbacks aren't the only ones with a difficult schedule coming up. There are plenty of big games on tap.
No. 2 Notre Dame hosts both Maryland and No. 3 UConn. Sixth-ranked North Carolina visits Rutgers on Thursday, only the second meeting for Hall of Fame coaches C. Vivian Stringer and Sylvia Hatchell. No. 13 Kentucky visits No. 7 Louisville on Sunday, and No. 1 South Carolina plays at ninth-ranked Duke the same day.
The Blue Devils also visit No. 12 Nebraska on Wednesday as part of the ACC/Big Ten challenge.
TOP 10 TUMBLE: It was a rough week to be a top-10 team. While the top three women's teams - South Carolina, Notre Dame and Connecticut - all were unscathed, five of the other seven teams in the first 10 lost games, causing a shuffle in The Associated Press basketball poll Monday.
This is the first time since 1999 that five teams in the top 10 lost in the same week this early in the season, according to STATS. Tennessee, Stanford, Duke, Kentucky and Maryland all dropped games. The Lady Vols lost twice, falling 10 spots to No. 14.
''It definitely seems like there have been a bunch of upsets so far,'' Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. ''It's good for our game. It gets people talking about it.''
FREE-FALLING TENNESSEE: The Lady Vols lost to Chattanooga and No. 4 Texas. It's a rare occurrence for Tennessee to drop two straight games in November. Tennessee's plunge of 10 ranking spots was the school's biggest one-week decline. The Lady Vols, who hadn't lost consecutive games since 2012, will try to end the skid Wednesday against Saint Francis, Pennsylvania.
SINKING TERRAPINS: Maryland's loss to Washington State in the San Juan Shootout dropped the team five spots to 15th - the school's lowest ranking since the final poll of 2011 when the Terrapins were 16th. Maryland has a chance to quickly jump back up, with a game against No. 2 Notre Dame on Wednesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
STILL TIED UP: For the fourth straight week there was a tie in the poll. The preseason poll had two teams at No. 24. Week 1 had a three-way tie for No. 24. Last week there was a three-way tie at No. 22 between Georgia, Syracuse and West Virginia. Now, Arkansas and DePaul are both No. 25.
SEC DOMINANCE: Seven of the Top 25 teams are in the Southeastern Conference, led by top-ranked South Carolina. The Gamecocks are followed by No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 13 Kentucky, No. 14 Tennessee, No. 19 Georgia, No. 23 Mississippi State and No. 25 Arkansas.
''There are no easy games in this conference,'' Dykes said. ''We were picked 12th in the preseason in the league, and this is where we deserved to be based on last year.''
The ACC can rival the SEC with five teams in the Top 25, including four in the first nine spots.
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