December 09, 2014

South Carolina was able to pass its first tough road test of the season to remain No. 1. Now the Gamecocks won't see another ranked team until facing Kentucky in the middle of January.

The top-ranked team in The Associated Press poll doesn't have a game this week until Sunday, when it hosts Savannah State. The Gamecocks rallied from a late four-point deficit to beat Duke on a last-second putback last Sunday.

That game also knocked Duke out of the top 10 for the first time in six years. While the Blue Devils dropped, Texas kept moving up. The No. 3 Longhorns have their highest ranking in a decade.

''It feels good that we are at a place where we are getting some recognition that is deserved at this point today,'' said Karen Aston, the Longhorns' third-year coach who was associate head coach in 2004-05. ''But it doesn't mean a whole lot. We all understand that. It's early in the season. We have so much work to do.''

Four teams in the top 10 lost last week - albeit three of those defeats came to other highly ranked team, including Notre Dame's loss to rival UConn.

''I think it's kind of topsy-turvy this season. Teams are getting beat and teams are knocking other teams off,'' UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. ''It's not one of those cut-and-dry years. So we played really well today and we won a game in a place that's really hard to win against a team that's really hard to beat.''

This week, with most schools on exam break, there are only two games between ranked opponents. The fifth-ranked Fighting Irish visit No. 25 DePaul on Wednesday. The 11th-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols play at No. 17 Rutgers on Sunday.

Some notes from this week's poll:

DOWNTRODDEN DUKE: The Blue Devils saw their string of 93 straight weeks in the top 10 end Monday - six years to the day of their last appearance out of the first 10. The only team with a longer active streak is UConn, which hasn't been out of the top 10 since March 7, 2005.

The Blue Devils have dropped three straight for the first time since 2007-08 - the last time they were ranked this low. Coach Joanne P. McCallie has challenged her team this season with the schedule. The three losses came against No. 4 Texas A&M, No. 12 Nebraska and South Carolina. Things don't get much easier with games against Oklahoma, No. 8 Kentucky and No. 2 Connecticut all before the New Year.

SEC DOMINANCE: South Carolina leads six schools from the Southeastern Conference in the poll. Fifth-ranked Texas A&M, No. 8 Kentucky, 11th-ranked Tennessee, No. 16 Georgia and No. 22 Mississippi State are the others. The six teams are a combined 49-3 this season, with the Lady Vols having two of those losses. Arkansas was a seventh team from the SEC in the poll last week before falling out.

ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER TIE: For the fifth 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. Then there was a three-way tie at No. 22 with Georgia, Syracuse and West Virginia. Last week, Arkansas and DePaul were both No. 25. Now, Oklahoma State and Syracuse are tied at No. 20.

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