Caitlin Clark and Iowa back up to No. 2 in AP Top 25 women’s poll; South Carolina a unanimous No. 1

Caitlin Clark and Iowa climbed back to No. 2 in The Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball poll Monday as the star guard moved within striking distance of the NCAA career scoring record.

It’s the second time in a few weeks that the Hawkeyes have been second in the poll, a spot that hasn’t been kind to teams the past month. UCLA, Iowa and Kansas State all took turns in the second position since Jan. 8 and none of the schools could hold that ranking for more than a week at a time.

While No. 2 has been a revolving door lately, South Carolina has maintained a strong grip atop the poll, once again the unanimous No. 1 team from a 35-member national media panel.

The Gamecocks (21-0) will host Missouri and No. 11 UConn this week. Dawn Staley’s squad will play those games without star center Kamilla Cardoso, who left for a week to play with the Brazilian national team at an Olympic qualifying tournament.

Iowa has held the No. 2 spot twice before this season, including the week of Jan. 15 when the Hawkeyes lost to Ohio State.

Clark, who is only 66 points away from becoming the all-time leading scorer in NCAA women’s basketball history, will try and make it a longer stay this time around. She will lead the Hawkeyes against Penn State and Nebraska this week with Kelsey Plum’s record in view.

No. 3 North Carolina State, No. 4 Colorado and No. 5 Ohio State followed Iowa. It’s the Buckeyes’ best ranking this season.

Stanford fell two spots to sixth after losing to JuJu Watkins and USC. The phenomenal freshman scored 51 points in that game.

Texas vaulted up five places to seventh after beating Baylor and then-No. 2 Kansas State last week. The Wildcats fell to eighth after also losing to Oklahoma, which entered the poll at No. 24. UCLA was ninth and USC climbed five spots to 10th.

DEUCES WILD

Only once in the past 15 years has a team been No. 2 all season long: Stanford in 2009-10. It’s been a volatile spot lately. In the 2018-19 season, the No. 2 position changed 10 times, the most in that span. There have already been seven No. 2 teams this season.

APPROACHING 1,200

UConn coach Geno Auriemma is one victory away from joining Tara VanDerveer (1,206) and Mike Krzyzewski (1,202) as the only Division I coaches with 1,200 victories. Auriemma’s first chance to reach that milestone is Wednesday when the Huskies host Seton Hall.

TOUGH BREAK TAR HEELS

North Carolina fell out of the rankings this week despite close losses to N.C. State and Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels have lost eight games this season, including five to currently ranked teams (South Carolina, Kansas State, UConn, Virginia Tech and N.C. State). All of those Top 25 losses have been within 12 points. They’ve also beaten four current Top 25 teams (Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Louisville).

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