After Long Absence, Connecticut Back At No. 1 In Top 25 Poll

Monday, December 24th 2007, 10:19 am
By: News On 6

It's been almost four years, but Connecticut is No. 1 again.

The Huskies received 49 of the 50 first-place votes Monday in The Associated Press poll after being ranked second all season. Tennessee had been No. 1 since the preseason poll, but lost to Stanford 73-69 in overtime Saturday night.

The Lady Vols fell to No. 3, while the Cardinal received the other first place vote and moved up to No. 2.

It's the first time Connecticut has held the top spot since Feb. 23, 2004.

``This is going to be fun for our team because it is the first time for this group,'' Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. ``I'm really proud of them and I'm anxious to see how we respond.''

The time away from the top-ranking was the longest drought in Auriemma's career since Connecticut first reached No. 1 on Jan. 17, 1995. Connecticut has now held the top spot 95 times. Only Tennessee has more.

The Huskies (9-0) have been dominant this season, winning by an average of 40 points. Connecticut's closest game was a 12-point victory over Stanford, which saw the Cardinal rally late with the game already out of reach.

About the only thing that has been able to slow the Huskies is a season-ending knee injury to Kalana Greene. She tore her anterior cruciate ligament in last Monday's win over South Carolina.

``Before last Monday, I felt we were the best team in the country. Now that we are not intact, I'm not as certain,'' Auriemma said. ``So being No. 1 is neither here nor there. Which is fine, since the goal at Connecticut never was, nor never will be, to be ranked No. 1 in the polls in December.''

Connecticut's next game is Saturday against Hartford.

Stanford moved up to its highest spot in the poll since finishing the 2004-05 season at No. 1.

North Carolina and Maryland each fell a spot to fourth and fifth. Rutgers remained No. 6, followed by Georgia, LSU and Oklahoma. Baylor moved back to No. 10 after beating Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and St. John's.

California moved up one spot to No. 11 and DePaul climbed three places to 12th. Duke jumped into 13th. Texas A&M, which lost at George Washington in overtime, fell four places to 14th. The Aggies were followed by Auburn, Notre Dame and Ohio State.

West Virginia had the biggest drop, five spots to 18th after losing to Indiana on Saturday. Texas remained 19th followed by Vanderbilt, and Wyoming. George Washington re-entered the poll at No. 22 after falling out three weeks ago.

Old Dominion, Oklahoma State and Colorado round out the Top 25. Colorado entered the Top 25 for the first time since the final poll of 2003-04.

Michigan State and Arizona State fell out of the Top 25. With the Spartans dropping out, Ohio State is the only Big Ten team left in the poll. It's the first time the conference has had only one team in the poll since Jan. 20, 1997.

Arizona State is out of the Top 25 for the first time since the final poll of the 2004-05 season.