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Irish and Huskies still atop AP women's basketball poll

Notre Dame and UConn still sit atop The Associated Press women's basketball poll while Colorado, Auburn and Texas A&M all entered the Top 25 for the first time this season

TCU Notre Dame Basketball

Notre Dame players, from left, Kathyrn Westbeld, Mychal Johnson and Brianna Turner sit on the bench during an NCAA college basketball game against TCU, Saturday Nov. 26, 2016 in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame won 92-59. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)

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By DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer

Monday, November 28, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) — After a busy eight days, Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy gave her team a much needed day off.

The Tigers won four of the five games in that stretch with the lone loss coming against No. 16 West Virginia. That was good enough to get Auburn ranked Monday for the first time since 2009, when the Tigers entered The Associated Press women’s basketball poll at No. 23.

“I think it shows them what their hard work can do,” Williams-Flournoy said. “But we can’t become complacent. We’re there, now they have to understand we have to work harder.”

Notre Dame and UConn still sit atop the poll with the Irish remaining No. 1. They received 16 first place ballots with the Huskies getting 14. Third-ranked South Carolina garnered the other three from a 33-member national media panel. Baylor and Maryland each moved up one spot to round out the first five teams.

Mississippi State, Louisville, Florida State, Ohio State and UCLA are the next five teams.

Auburn, which was last ranked seven years ago, will visit Kansas State on Thursday. Coach Williams-Flournoy said she’d let her team enjoy the ranking for a day.

“I’ll let them celebrate today and crush them tomorrow,” she said laughing. “It’s like you enjoy your birthday for one day, have the cake and ice cream and then the next day it’s done.”

The Tigers came into the season after a banner year which saw their return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009. They advanced to the second round and picked up a pair of wins over Top 25 teams. With most players returning, Auburn was envisioned to have a great season.

“Our expectations we’re that we expected to be good,” Williams-Flournoy said. “It’s not an option if we should be or maybe, we’re expected to be good, expected to go back to the NCAA Tournament. Doing something mediocre and something smaller isn’t an option.”

Joining Auburn in the poll this week for the first time this season were Colorado (21) and Texas A&M (25). Arizona State, Michigan State and Gonzaga all fell out.

Other tidbits from the Top 25 this week:

CLIMBING BULLDOGS: Mississippi State has its best ranking ever as the SEC power moved up to No. 6 after sweeping through the Rainbow Wahine Showdown. The Bulldogs returned all five starters and 90 percent of their scoring from last season when the team reached as high as seventh in the poll before losing to UConn in the NCAA Tournament.

RISING BLUE DEMONS: No. 15 DePaul reached its best ranking since the final poll of 2011 when the team was 10th. The Blue Demons lost to then-No. 5 Baylor before routing then-No. 11 Syracuse in the Gulf Coast Showcase over the weekend. The schedule doesn’t get any easier with a game at UConn on Thursday before hosting Notre Dame on Dec. 10.

TIP-INS: With Auburn and Texas A&M entering the Top 25 this week, seven teams from the SEC are ranked. South Carolina (3), Mississippi State (6), Kentucky (17), Florida (19) and Tennessee (22). ... Syracuse had the biggest drop, falling nine places to No. 20 after losses to Ohio State and DePaul.

Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg

The poll and how the pollsters voted can be found online at: http://collegebasketball.ap.org/ap-womens-basketball-poll-week-4

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