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Tuesday February 7th, 2023 3:48AM

Utah cracks women's AP top 10 for 1st time; Gamecocks No. 1

By The Associated Press
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South Carolina finished 2022 how it started the year: No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 women's basketball poll.

While the top-ranked Gamecocks cruised to a win in their lone game last week, then-No. 4 Indiana, No. 6 N.C. State and No. 7 Virginia Tech all lost as they scrambled to replace injured players.

There were 22 losses by teams in the AP top 10 this season before Jan. 1. That was tied for the most in the past 23 years before January, matching the 2014-15 season, according to ESPN. Seven of those losses came to unranked teams, tied with 1999-2000 and 2004-05 for the most ever.

The New Year didn’t start off any better for top teams as then-No. 10 UCLA lost to Oregon State.

“The most challenging week putting together my poll in my 12 years as a voter,” ESPN analyst Deb Antonelli said after all the ranked-team losses last week. “I’m looking at records, injuries, NET and my experienced eye as a basketball analyst, and it’s difficult. We wanted parity and we got it! It’s a great measurement of growth in game.”

Stanford, Ohio State, Notre Dame and UConn round out the top five teams in the poll released Monday. With the Hoosiers' defeat, that left only five unbeaten teams, including the top-ranked Gamecocks, who were once again a unanimous choice at No. 1.

No. 3 Ohio State, No. 7 LSU, No. 8 Utah and 24th-ranked St. John's are the other undefeated teams heading into 2023. Utah is making its first appearance in the top 10.

Indiana dropped to sixth with Virginia Tech and North Carolina State finishing off the top 10.

Duke was one of the the teams to knock off a top-10 squad last week, beating the Wolfpack. The Blue Devils entered the poll at No. 19. They are off to a 13-1 start with the lone loss coming against UConn. Kara Lawson's team is 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 2013-14 and is off to its best in six years.

Arkansas fell out of the poll.

RISING UTES:

Utah extended its season-opening winning streak to 14 games, the second longest in school history and only two victories short of the team that went 16-0 to begin the 1997-98 season.

FALLING TAR HEELS

North Carolina has lost three straight games and fallen to No. 22 in the poll after dropping contests to Florida State and Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels, who were sixth in the Top 25 two weeks ago, will try end the slide against Miami on Thursday.

___

AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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