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Dec 8, 2014 2:43 PM

S. Carolina rallies to stay atop AP women's poll

The Associated Press

A last-second putback kept South Carolina at No. 1 and dropped Duke out of the top 10 for the first time in six years.

The Gamecocks trailed by four late to the Blue Devils on Sunday and appeared to see their run atop The Associated Press women's basketball poll be a short one.

But a 3-pointer by Tiffany Mitchell and a basket with 1.8 seconds left by freshman star A'ja Wilson kept the team unbeaten and No. 1. It also dropped Duke out of the first 10 for the first time since Dec. 8, 2008.

While the Gamecocks held on, four teams in the top 10 lost albeit three of those defeats came to other highly ranked teams, including Notre Dame's loss to rival UConn.

"I think it's kind of topsy-turvy this season, teams are getting beat and teams that 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."

Connecticut, Texas, Texas A&M and Notre Dame round out the first five.

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. The only team with an active longer streak is UConn, which hasn't been out of the first 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 sharing the honors. Last week Arkansas and DePaul were both No. 25. Now Oklahoma State and Syracuse are tied in 20th.

UPCOMING MATCHUPS: It's a slow week with most schools taking a break for exams. Still there are a few big games coming up over the next seven days. Fifth-ranked Notre Dame visits No. 25 DePaul on Wednesday and then hosts Michigan on Saturday. Thursday is rivalry day with No. 12 Nebraska playing Creighton and No. 24 Iowa taking on Iowa State. Sunday has No. 11 Tennessee visiting No. 17 Rutgers.


Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg


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