NCAAW AP 25: South Carolina, top 7 hold steady while Arizona, Maryland make jumps

South Carolina guard Zia Cooke (1) and Tyasha Harris (52) have the Gamecocks in command of the No. 1 spot. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

The top five in the Associated Press women’s basketball rankings remain unchanged this week, with the most shuffling coming from Pac-12 teams swapping around and at the bottom of the poll.

South Carolina remains No. 1 with 26 of 30 first-place votes. Baylor remained No. 2 with three first-place votes. Oregon, UConn and Louisville complete the top five; the Cardinals got the final first-place vote.

A quick recap of this weekend with the Week 14 Associated Press top 25 rankings below.

Gamecocks keep rolling in SEC

South Carolina (21-1, 9-0 SEC) held fast to its No. 1 ranking this week by thumping Ole Miss, 87-32, on Thursday and running away from No. 22 Tennessee, 69-48. Zia Cooke scored 20 points, her fourth game with at least that many, and freshman Aliyah Boston added 10 points, five rebounds, two blocks and two steals. She left the game and was on the bench with her right knee wrapped, but head coach Dawn Staley said she’s fine.

Once the Gamecocks got by Mississippi State in their only regular season meeting of the year, it seems to be smooth sailing in conference play. They have No. 25 Arkansas on Thursday and No. 15 Kentucky and No. 16 Texas A&M in the final week of the schedule.

The biggest chance of another No. 1 falling comes next Monday when the Gamecocks travel to the No. 4 Connecticut Huskies.

Pac-12 is wild

The Pac-12 conference remains the wildest one of the bunch with another top-10 matchup over the weekend that was won by the lower squad. UCLA, ranked eighth last week, lost to Arizona on Friday, 92-66. And then it almost lost to Arizona State on Sunday. The Bruins bounced back for a 70-61 win that kept them in third place in the conference standings.

“We got humiliated. We got punched in the mouth on Friday night,” Bruins coach Cori Close said, via The Associated Press. “The work that our staff as well as our team did to get their hearts and minds ready, I thought that this was a gut-check and a mindset check. That was the most consistent 40 minutes of energy that we've had in conference play.”

Stanford (20-2, 9-1) and Oregon (19-2, 9-1) are tied atop the conference, with the Ducks currently holding the tiebreaker for the head-to-head meeting. They meet again Feb. 24. UCLA (19-2, 8-2), Arizona (18-3, 7-3), Oregon State (18-4, 6-4) and Arizona State (16-6, 6-4) round out the top half. All are ranked with a big weekend on the horizon, including the Oregon state teams vs. Arizona state teams rematches.

Ionescu leads weekend’s big performances

Oregon (19-2, 9-1) star guard Sabrina Ionescu reached career triple-double No. 23 on Saturday in 101-53 victory over Colorado. She had 24 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes on the court. Ionescu was 10-for-14, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range, and hit both free throws she took. She also had a steal.

DePaul’s Kelly Campbell notched her second career triple-double on Sunday in a 93-71 win over Providence. She finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists.

Naz Hillmon scored a career-high 30 points and had 10 rebounds for Michigan in an upset win over Iowa. The sophomore put up 27 points, eight rebounds and five assists in an earlier loss to Northwestern last week. She has seven double-doubles this year and averages 17.3 points and 8.8 rebounds.

And Oregon State’s Mikayla Pivec knocked down this incredible throw as if she was already in the Super Bowl spirit.

SEC scoring leaders for Kentucky, Texas A&M still out

Kentucky and Texas A&M are going to have to find a way to get through the next few weeks without their star players. Both teams took losses on Sunday, to unranked Florida and LSU, respectively.

The Wildcats (17-4, 6-3 SEC) were without Rhyne Howard for a second straight game due to a fractured finger. Howard was on the bench with a hard cast on her non-shooting hand and is expected to be out until at least mid-February. The sophomore is averaging 23.2 points per game, second in the NCAA behind Rider’s Stella Johnson (25.2).

Kentucky, three games behind South Carolina in the conference, coughed up a 14-point first-half lead and allowed Florida (12-10, 3-6) to go on a 25-5 fourth-quarter comeback run.

Texas A&M (18-4, 6-3) is still without Chennedy Carter, who sprained her ankle on Jan. 9 in the first meeting with LSU. The Tigers (16-5, 6-3) won again on Sunday, 59-58, with a double-double of 18 points and 16 rebounds by Faustine Aifuwa.

Carter averaged 21.9 points per game, second in the SEC and fifth in the nation. The Aggies lost their first game without her, but rattled off four consecutive leading up to the LSU game.

AP Top 25: Feb. 3 (Week 14)

  1. South Carolina

  2. Baylor

  3. Oregon

  4. Connecticut

  5. Louisville

  6. Stanford

  7. North Carolina State

  8. Mississippi State (+1)

  9. Oregon State (+1)

  10. UCLA (-2)

  11. Gonzaga (+1)

  12. Arizona (+4)

  13. Maryland (+4)

  14. DePaul (-3)

  15. Kentucky (-2)

  16. Texas A&M (-1)

  17. Florida State (-3)

  18. Indiana (+2)

  19. Arizona State

  20. Iowa (-2)

  21. Northwestern (+2)

  22. South Dakota (-1)

  23. Tennessee (-1)

  24. Missouri State

  25. Arkansas

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