NCAA women’s basketball poll, week 6

Shakira Austin and Ole Miss begin SEC play this week – and enter our top 25 poll – with a 12-1 record. Ole Miss Athletics photo.

Despite a shortened week due to the Christmas holiday, women’s basketball fans were not disappointed by the quality of play last week, highlighted by the South Carolina versus Stanford matchup. Much like their matchup at Tennessee a few days earlier, the Cardinal controlled the first half and took a double-digit lead going into the half. But once again, turnovers in the third quarter hindered Stanford and allowed the Gamecocks to go on a run, which they kept going into the fourth and pulled away down the stretch.

In the game South Carolina welcomed back starting point guard Destanni Henderson and forward Aliyah Boston. But if they want to continue their winning ways through March, they’ll need more consistent play from junior guard Zia Cooke.

With all that said, South Carolina sits atop this week’s top 25 poll once again. Louisville climbs one spot to number two, and will open conference play this week with matchups versus Boston College and at Georgia Tech. Texas edges out Stanford for the third spot this week; the Longhorns have just one blemish on the season and beat the Cardinal earlier in the year, giving them a slight advantage. Stanford and NC State round out the top five.

Indiana enters conference play at sixth in our poll, but will be tested heavily on Sunday as they travel to Maryland. The matchup will be featured on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. ET. Big Ten foe Michigan follows at seven and Baylor sits at eight. The Lady Vols remain vague on senior Rae Burrell’s injury, but their chemistry is gelling. If they can add Burrell to the mix during conference play, they could be a team that’ makes some serious noise down the stretch. Arizona rounds out the top 10, and will be excited to get back into the swing of things after a COVID pause, as they open Pac-12 play at Southern Cal.

A win this weekend could move the Terrapins back into the top 10, but for now they sit in the 11th spot. The 12th-ranked Connecticut Huskies will look to get back on track vs Marquette on Wednesday and at DePaul Friday. Iowa State and Georgia hold spots 13 and 14 respectively, as Duke reenters the top 15 to round it out.

Kim Mulkey’s LSU Tigers continue to impress, and slide up to 16 this week. They close non-conference play with a matchup against Samford Monday evening before beginning their SEC slate at Georgia Dec. 30. Georgia Tech, BYU and Oklahoma claim spots 18, 19 and 20 respectively. And after a fourth-quarter meltdown and loss to IUPUI last week, Iowa drops to 20.

Three SEC schools find themselves in the bottom portion of the poll, as Kentucky sits at 21, Texas A&M at 23, and after a win over South Florida, Ole Miss enters at 25. South Florida claims spot 22, while Nebraska holds place at 24.

Top 25

1. South Carolina
2. Louisville
3. Texas
4. Stanford
5. NC State
6. Indiana
7. Michigan
8. Baylor
9. Tennessee
10. Arizona
11. Maryland
12. UConn
13. Iowa State
14. Georgia
15. Duke
16. LSU
17. Georgia Tech
18. BYU
19. Oklahoma
20. Iowa
21. Kentucky
22. South Florida
23. Texas A&M
24. Nebraska
25. Ole Miss

RV: Notre Dame, Colorado, Florida Gulf Coast, Missouri State, DePaul, Kansas State, UCLA