Ole Miss enters AP women’s poll for 1st time in 15 years

Jan 23, 2022, 7:59 PM | Updated: Jan 24, 2022, 10:42 am
Mississippi guard Donnetta Johnson (3) dribbles around Tennessee guard Jordan Horston (25) during t...

Mississippi guard Donnetta Johnson (3) dribbles around Tennessee guard Jordan Horston (25) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Oxford, Miss., Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Unbeaten on the road this season, Mississippi entered The Associated Press women’s basketball poll for the first time in 15 years on Monday, coming in at No. 24.

The Rebels (17-2) have won their first seven games away from home, including a victory over then-No. 23 Kentucky on Sunday. The last Top 25 ranking for Ole Miss was January 2007.

“Fifteen years is crazy,” Mississippi coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said. “I told them before the Kentucky game that I had been downplaying the whole ranking deal and I apologized to them for that. I didn’t think it was fair of me. I said if you want to get ranked, go ahead and beat Kentucky and be ranked.”

That unblemished mark will be put to the test Thursday when the Rebels visit No. 1 South Carolina in a rescheduled game. The Gamecocks received 29 of the 30 first-place votes from a national media panel to remain the top team in the poll.

McPhee-McCuin was excited to see where her team stacks up against the best in the country and knows a win would put the Rebels one step closer to their goal of making the NCAA Tournament.

“If you’re serious about basketball and competition, how are you not pumped up to play the No. 1 team in the country?” she said. “We were pretty bummed when COVID took that away from us early.”

Stanford, North Carolina State, Tennessee and Louisville round out the top five. The Wolfpack rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Cardinals last Thursday and take command of the ACC.

Indiana remained sixth and was followed by Michigan, Arizona, Texas and UConn. The Longhorns jumped up six spots after beating then-No. 7 Iowa State on Sunday. The Cyclones fell to 13th.

The Huskies were supposed to play South Carolina on Thursday, but Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley says her team needs to complete its SEC schedule “to keep ourselves in the running for a conference title.” One of the few dates Ole Miss had open was Thursday.

UConn will visit DePaul on Wednesday to make-up a game lost when the Huskies had COVID-19 issues.

RECORD PERFORMANCES

Kansas State center Ayoka Lee broke the NCAA Division I single-game women’s scoring record Sunday, piling up 61 points against then-No. 14 Oklahoma. She bested the previous mark by a point and helped the No. 25 Wildcats re-enter the poll this week.

Lee is second in the country in scoring, averaging 25.5 points. She is right behind Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, who last week became the first player in NCAA history to record consecutive 30-point triple-doubles.

JUMPING BACK INTO THE POLL

Oregon finally is healthy and the Ducks are showing it on the court.

Oregon returned to the Top 25 this week at No. 19 after beating UConn last week. It was the team’s second consecutive win over a top-10 opponent (Arizona). Kelly Graves’ team started the season at No. 10 before injuries to stars Nyara Sabally, Endyia Rogers and Te-Hina Paopao. Now with the team healthy the Ducks are looking to reclaim their spot atop the conference.

FALLING OUT

Kentucky is out of the Top 25 for the first time since Nov. 19, 2018. The Wildcats had been ranked for 65 consecutive weeks which was the eighth longest active run. North Carolina and Florida Gulf Coast also dropped out of the poll.

GAME OF THE WEEK

Arizona at Stanford, Sunday. A rematch of last season’s NCAA championship game that the Cardinal won 54-53. Stanford sits atop the Pac-12 while Arizona is currently in fourth.

___

More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Ole Miss enters AP women’s poll for 1st time in 15 years