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Thoughts on the AP Poll: Duke women's basketball climbs to No. 13 after solid week

Against Georgia Tech, Duke women's basketball's Celeste Taylor extended her double-digit scoring streak to seven games.
Against Georgia Tech, Duke women's basketball's Celeste Taylor extended her double-digit scoring streak to seven games.

After another two-win week for Duke women's basketball, a new AP Poll dropped Monday afternoon. With the Blue Devils now at No. 13, the Blue Zone takes a look at the updated rankings:

Duke on the upswing

In both games this week, the Blue Devils proved that they can close out tight games down the stretch. Against Clemson, Duke held a very slim lead for much of the first half before pulling away in the third period to establish a respectable 10-point margin of victory. Similarly, the Blue Devils ended the first half against Georgia Tech down by one before storming back in the third and fourth quarters and shutting out the Yellow Jackets in the final 5:45, ending the game with a commanding 18-point win. This week Duke proved that it is a team that can handle adversity, especially against a relatively strong Clemson team that has shown flashes of greatness this year. As a result, the Blue Devils have climbed three spots in the poll to No. 13. This week, they will travel to Chapel Hill on Thursday to play No. 17 North Carolina and will host Syracuse on Sunday. 

Wolfpack stumbles

N.C. State had a rough week, dropping both its games against opponents it was expected to beat. The 19-point blowout loss to Florida State was especially damaging to the squad’s ranking, but Sunday’s nine-point defeat by then-No. 22 North Carolina was certainly not beneficial either. The Tar Heels' stifling defense proved to be the deciding factor in that game, and while the score stayed close for most of the matchup, N.C. State failed to pull ahead when it mattered. Because of those two disappointing performances, and the fact that they were already trending downward, the Wolfpack fell from No. 11 to No. 20 this week. Now sitting at an unexpected 3-4 in conference play, N.C. State will host Miami before traveling to Louisville this week, both very winnable games for the Wolfpack as they look to turn things around in Raleigh. 

Longhorns stampeding

It was an excellent week for formerly unranked Texas, which notched two top-25 wins against then-No. 23 Kansas and then-No.15 Iowa State. Both games were decided by double-digit margins, which helped solidify Texas’ case to enter the rankings. The Longhorns beat two very good teams this week, and did so confidently. As a result, Texas made its season debut on the list at No. 25. This week, the Longhorns will travel to Texas Tech and Baylor. They are currently favored over the Red Raiders, but the game against the Bears will likely be a close one between two good teams. 

Complete rankings:

1. South Carolina

2. Ohio State

3. LSU

4. Stanford

5. UConn

6. Indiana

7. Notre Dame

8. Utah

9. UCLA

10. Iowa

11. Maryland

12. Virginia Tech

13. Duke

14. Michigan

15. Oklahoma

16. Gonzaga

17. North Carolina

18. Iowa State

19. Arizona

20. N.C. State

21. Illinois

22. Villanova

23. Oregon

24. Colorado

25. Texas

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