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RUTGERS BACK

Rutgers’ Ciani Cryor passes the ball as South Carolina’s Alexis Jennings (35) and Tyasha Harris (52) defend in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Gulf Coast Showcase tournament, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, in Estero, Fla.
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NEW YORK (AP) — After a two-year hiatus, C. Vivian Stringer has Rutgers back in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll.

The Scarlet Knights jumped into the AP Top 25 on Monday at No. 21, riding an 11-game winning streak. Rutgers was last ranked on March 2, 2015.

There was a time not so long ago when Rutgers was a staple in the Top 25, but the team went through some lean years before returning to the rankings. Rutgers is in the midst of a remarkable turnaround after going 6-24 last season.

“To go to the low depths we did and to show that perseverance and fight we have is great,” Stringer said. “We had to build everything from scratch. It showed me a lot about myself. I never gave up. We had more resolve to fight.”

The Scarlet Knights visit Purdue on Wednesday.

UConn remained a unanimous choice from the 32-member national media panel after cruising to two victories last week. The Huskies were followed in the rankings by Notre Dame, Louisville, Mississippi State and Baylor. Louisville hosts the Irish on Thursday.

South Carolina dropped from fourth to ninth after losing at Missouri on Sunday while the Tigers moved up three spots to 12th. It’s the Gamecocks’ worst ranking since Jan. 20, 2014.

Tennessee, Texas and Oregon are in front of the Gamecocks while Ohio State rounds out the top 10.

Green Bay also re-entered the poll this week at No. 25. Stanford and Villanova dropped out.

Other tidbits from the poll:

BIG TEN REVIVAL: With Rutgers’ return, the Big Ten has five teams in the Top 25 for the first time since Nov. 23, 2015. Ohio State is 10th, Maryland 11th, Iowa tied for 18th, Rutgers 21st and Michigan 23rd.

“It’s huge,” Stringer said of having so many ranked teams. “I try to treat this as I would the Big East with Notre Dame, Louisville, Connecticut, Rutgers. We had a monster there. If we can continue to play well, the NCAA would consider us to be a strong conference and we’ll get all five schools in.”

MIGHTY DUCKS: After sweeping Southern California and UCLA, Oregon has moved up a spot to eighth, which is the Ducks’ highest ranking ever. The Ducks had been as high as ninth in 1982 and again this season.

“That’s neat,” coach Kelly Graves said. “We don’t talk about it as a team, but it means we had a hell of a weekend.”

Oregon swept the Los Angeles schools for the first time in school history. It is 15-2 on the season, with the losses coming against Louisville and Mississippi State.

“I wouldn’t have guessed we’d be 15-2 against the 13th-toughest schedule in the country at this point with the youngest team in the Top 25. ... We’re better right now than I thought we’d be. I got some gritty kids and they’re tough mentally.”

Posted 12:00 am, January 12, 2018
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