USC women rack up their best AP Top 25 rating since 1994

USC women's basketball player, Juju Watkins

JuJu Watkins, a standout freshman, has helped USC ascend the AP Top 25 to its highest position in 29 years.

The Trojans climbed to sixth in the Associated Press women’s basketball poll on Monday, their highest ranking since the 1994 season, when they were ranked fourth. Watkins has been a big part of that, already matching the school record for freshmen set by Trojan legends Lisa Leslie and Paula McGee with three 30-point games this season.

“We had a challenging schedule early, and we met those challenges,” said USC coach Lindsay Gottlieb. “Obviously JuJu is so phenomenal, to see her adapt to the college game and adapt as quickly is so impressive.”

South Carolina was the unanimous No. 1 choice of the 36-member national media panel. Over the Thanksgiving break, the Gamecocks cruised to two easy victories.

UCLA, Stanford, Iowa, and North Carolina State complete the top five.

Last week, UCLA, Stanford, and Iowa all had successful runs in holiday tournaments. For the first time in school history, the Bruins defeated UConn in the inaugural Cayman Islands Classic.

In the US Virgin Islands, the Wolfpack defeated another top-five opponent, routing then-No. 3 Colorado. Coach Wes Moore’s team has risen from unranked to sixth in the preseason poll.

“We were picked to finish eighth in the ACC, and we weren’t ranked two weeks ago,” Moore went on to say. “‘remain hungry, remain hungry, and keep doing what you’ve been doing,’ I’ve been encouraging them. They’re putting the team first right now, and they don’t care who gets the credit.”

Colorado is now tied for sixth place with LSU. To begin the season, the Buffaloes defeated the then-No. 1 Tigers.

Virginia Tech is ranked ninth, and Texas is ranked tenth. On Sunday, the Longhorns will face UConn in the Jimmy V Classic. The Huskies, who have been plagued by injuries yet again, fell out of the top 10 for the first time since January 3, 2022.

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