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Women's Power Rankings: JuJu Watkins, USC return at No. 9

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Three players score double digits in South Carolina's win (1:39)

No. 1 South Carolina defeats Georgia 70-56 behind Kamilla Cardoso's 16 points and 16 rebounds. (1:39)

It was a week of big headlines: Iowa's Caitlin Clark became the women's NCAA scoring leader, UConn's Paige Bueckers announced she will return for 2024-25, and Baylor retired Brittney Griner's No. 42 jersey.

But it was a pretty static week in ESPN's women's college basketball Power Rankings, at least near the top, with teams 1 through 7 staying in place. However, there was a big jump into the top 10: USC, out of the Power Rankings the past three weeks, is back in at No. 9.

Victories over Arizona, Oregon and Oregon State pushed the Trojans into a three-way tie for second place in the Pac-12. With six consecutive wins, USC also owns the conference's longest current winning streak.

And while it seems like every weekend is huge for somebody in the Pac-12, this one really is big for USC, as ranked teams Colorado and Utah visit Los Angeles. It's the last chance for fans to see freshman sensation JuJu Watkins at home until the NCAA tournament, where the Trojans are projected to host the early rounds for the first time in 30 years. The last NCAA tournament games played by USC in Los Angeles were in 1994, Lisa Leslie's senior season. The Trojans played at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena then.

Can anyone catch first-place Stanford in the Pac-12? It's possible, but not likely. Stanford has a two-game lead on USC, Oregon State and Colorado. Of their four remaining games, the Cardinal are heavy favorites in all but one: Feb. 29 at Oregon State. Stanford defeated Oregon State at home Jan. 21, but the rematch in Corvallis, Oregon, could be more challenging.

In the other major conference races, Virginia Tech (ACC), Ohio State (Big Ten) and Oklahoma (Big 12) all have one-game leads. The SEC felt like it was over weeks ago: South Carolina won its SEC-record 43rd consecutive regular-season conference game Sunday. The Gamecocks lead LSU and Tennessee by 3½ games with four left on the Gamecocks' schedule.


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SVP relives Caitlin Clark's historic night with Iowa

Scott Van Pelt details Caitlin Clark's record-breaking night as the best thing he saw today.

Player of the week: Caitlin Clark, Iowa

Clark needed eight points to become the NCAA women's hoops scoring leader Thursday vs. Michigan -- she got 41 more than that. Her 49-point, 13-assist, 5-rebound performance was an unforgettable way to set the career scoring mark. She also set the Iowa single-game record. With Clark now at 3,569 points, AIAW large-school leader Lynette Woodard (3,649) and NCAA men's leader Pete Maravich (3,667) are within sight.

Team of the week: USC

The Trojans won this past week at Oregon (88-51) and Oregon State (58-50), two very different styles of games, but USC found a way to win both. The Trojans lost 62-59 at home to Washington on Jan. 28, and freshman JuJu Watkins was disappointed with her 8-of-27 shooting from the field and six turnovers. Since then, USC has won six in a row, and Watkins has averaged 32.3 points in those games.

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Oregon State tops UCLA's heroics on Talia von Oelhoffen's buzzer-beater

Lauren Betts' bucket in final seconds puts UCLA up, then Talia von Oelhoffen drills a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Oregon State the win.

Win of the week: Oregon State 79, UCLA 77

Last Friday's game looked as if was won multiple times before it actually was. Angela Dugalic's 3-pointer with just over 3 minutes left put UCLA up by 7, but that was nowhere near the dagger, as Oregon State rallied.

With eight seconds left, Dugalic hit another 3-pointer, and UCLA was up by 1. Talia von Oelhoffen's layup then gave Oregon State a 76-75 edge. UCLA's Lauren Betts followed that a second later with a jumper, and what appeared to be a 77-76 Bruin victory.

But there was still time for a catch-and-shoot from Oregon State. Oelhoffen hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to the delight of the Gill Coliseum crowd that saw five lead changes in the last 15 seconds.

Coach of the week: Lisa Fortier, Gonzaga

Fortier, who took over as head coach at Gonzaga in 2014 after a seven-year tenure as an assistant there, clinched her eighth consecutive West Coast Conference regular-season title Saturday. The Bulldogs beat Pacific 91-78 for their 20th win in a row and moved to 13-0 in the league. Fortier is 259-61.


Power Rankings

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UGA forces South Carolina to rally for record SEC win

The No. 1 Gamecocks rally from nine points down in the third quarter to beat visiting Georgia, 70-56, for their record 43rd consecutive SEC win.

1. South Carolina Gamecocks (25-0)
Previous ranking:
1
This week: vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (Thursday), at Kentucky Wildcats (Sunday)

The Gamecocks were tested at Tennessee, but they still won by 11. They also trailed at halftime at home to Georgia, which is tied for last place in the SEC. Again, though, South Carolina restored order and won by 14. It might not have been the most dominant week for the top team in the country, but the Gamecocks still got the job done.

And center Kamilla Cardoso, back from her trip home to Brazil for an Olympic qualifying tournament, had a combined 34 points, 26 rebounds and 8 assists in the two games.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (22-3)
Previous ranking:
2
This week: at Penn State Lady Lions (Thursday), vs. Maryland Terrapins (Sunday)

Speaking of teams on a roll, the Buckeyes have won 12 in a row. Last Wednesday, they clobbered a Nebraska team coming off a big upset of Iowa, winning 80-47 behind Jacy Sheldon's 23 points and six assists. And -- at least for a week -- Ohio State avoided the jinx that has seemed to plague No. 2-ranked teams since mid-January.

3. Stanford Cardinal (23-3)
Previous ranking:
3
This week: vs. Arizona Wildcats (Friday), vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (Sunday)

Stanford pounded California 84-49 on Friday, the Cardinal's 11th consecutive win over the Bears. Kiki Iriafen led the way with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Despite being picked third in the Pac-12 preseason poll, Stanford is closing in on what would be its 27th regular-season conference title.

4. Iowa Hawkeyes (23-3)
Previous ranking:
4
This week: at Indiana Hoosiers (Thursday), vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (Sunday)

The Hawkeyes were frustrated by an 82-79 loss Feb. 11 at Nebraska in which their offense dried up in the fourth quarter. Michigan paid the price for it Thursday as the Hawkeyes hit the century mark in points for the eighth time this season, winning 106-89 on a historic night for Clark. Now, Iowa has its second matchup of the season with Indiana. The Hawkeyes defeated the Hoosiers 84-57 in Iowa City on Jan. 13, but expect this one to be a lot closer.

5. Texas Longhorns (24-3)
Previous ranking:
5
This week: vs. Texas Tech Lady Raiders (Wednesday), at UCF Knights (Saturday)

The Longhorns have won six in a row, beating Houston and Iowa State this past week. Freshman Madison Booker continues to be Texas' spark plug, combining for 41 points and 14 assists in those victories. Texas is in a three-way tie for third in the Big 12 and still has another matchup with league leader Oklahoma coming up.

6. Virginia Tech Hokies (22-4)
Previous ranking:
6
This week: vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (Sunday)

The Hokies are the hottest team in the ACC, and one of the hottest in the country, as they have won nine in a row. After grinding out a 61-56 victory at home over Duke last Thursday, they picked apart Louisville's defense Sunday as few teams have. Virginia Tech won 86-70 and shot 65.4% from the field, led by -- you guessed it -- Elizabeth Kitley and Georgia Amoore. They combined for 49 points on 21-of-27 shooting from the field.

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Kara Dunn heaves a logo 3-pointer, but NC State prevails in OT

Kara Dunn cuts NC State's lead to one in the final minute of overtime, but Georgia Tech can't get a good luck on its final possession, and its bid to upset No. 6 NC State fails.

7. NC State Wolfpack (23-3)
Previous ranking:
7
This week: at North Carolina Tar Heels (Thursday), at Duke Blue Devils (Sunday)

The visiting Wolfpack put the clamps on Notre Dame 59-43 on Thursday, but then struggled to beat Georgia Tech back home in Raleigh on Sunday. Still, they held off the Yellow Jackets 86-85 in overtime. NC State has won eight of its past nine heading into this week of Triangle rivalry matchups.

8. Indiana Hoosiers (21-3)
Previous ranking:
11
This week: at Illinois Fighting Illini (Monday), vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (Thursday)

The Hoosiers beat Wisconsin last week and are tied with Iowa for second place in the Big Ten. They get their second shot at Iowa this week after a disappointing first meeting with the Hawkeyes. Indiana's only losses in Big Ten play are to Iowa and league-leading Ohio State.

9. USC Trojans (20-4)
Previous ranking:
NR
This week: vs. Colorado Buffaloes (Friday), vs. Utah Utes (Sunday)

After the Trojans' successful trip to Oregon last week, they are back at home for two games that could put them in strong position for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. While freshman JuJu Watkins is getting well-deserved attention, USC also has had strong performances on the boards from junior Rayah Marshall. She had a combined 29 rebounds in USC's wins at Oregon and Oregon State.

10. LSU Tigers (21-4)
Previous ranking:
10
This week: at Texas A&M Aggies (Monday), vs. Auburn Tigers (Thursday), at Tennessee Lady Vols (Sunday)

The Tigers stay put in the Power Rankings, as they had no games. But they are loaded up this week, including a chance to avenge their Jan. 14 loss at Auburn.

11. Oregon State Beavers (21-4)
Previous ranking:
12
This week: at Washington State Cougars (Friday), at Washington Huskies (Sunday)

USC snapped the Beavers' six-game winning streak, which included the buzzer-beating thriller over UCLA on Friday. The Beavers forced Trojans star JuJu Watkins into her worst shooting performance (6-of-32) of the season. But with leading scorer and rebounder Raegan Beers (facial injury) sidelined, Oregon State didn't have enough offense.

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Iowa State hangs on for the upset of No. 7 Kansas State in 2OT

No. 7 Kansas State can't get a shot off in time as Iowa State pulls off the upset in double overtime.

12. Kansas State Wildcats (22-4)
Previous ranking:
8
This week: vs. West Virginia Mountaineers (Wednesday), at Kansas Jayhawks (Saturday)

The Wildcats got center Ayoka Lee back after she missed a month with a left ankle injury. She had 20 points at Iowa State on Wednesday, but Kansas State lost in double overtime. Lee tweaked her right ankle in that game and missed Saturday's matchup against UCF. The Wildcats squeaked out a 60-58 win on a late layup but are hoping Lee isn't gone as long this time.

13. Colorado Buffaloes (20-5)
Previous ranking:
9
This week: at USC Trojans (Friday)

It might seem harsh for the Buffs to drop four spots in the Power Rankings for a 77-76 loss at the buzzer at Utah. But a couple of their fellow Pac-12 teams passed them. Colorado has some time to regroup before taking on USC for the second time this season; the Buffs beat the Trojans on Jan. 21. Colorado also hopes guard Jaylyn Sherrod is OK after she was injured near the end of Friday's loss.

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Utah Utes vs. Colorado Buffaloes - Game Highlights

Watch the Game Highlights from Utah Utes vs. Colorado Buffaloes

14. UConn Huskies (22-5)
Previous ranking:
14
This week: vs. Creighton Bluejays (Monday), at DePaul Blue Demons (Sunday)

The Huskies got two more Big East blowout wins -- vs. Xavier and Georgetown -- but the big news was Bueckers' announcement that she will return next season. It wasn't really a surprise, as it seemed Bueckers was strongly leaning that way, but the UConn fans were still thrilled.

15. UCLA Bruins (20-5)
Previous ranking:
13
This week: vs. Utah Utes (Thursday)

The Bruins had to take a deep breath after their 79-77 loss at Oregon State that got away at the buzzer. That defeat made UCLA 5-5 in its past 10 games. But the Bruins put it aside to extend Oregon's misery Sunday, handing the Ducks their ninth consecutive loss. Lauren Betts had 41 points and 16 rebounds in UCLA's two games.

16. Syracuse Orange (22-4)
Previous ranking:
NR
This week: vs. Duke Blue Devils (Thursday), vs. Pitt Panthers (Sunday)

The Orange make their Power Rankings debut after victories at Miami and Virginia moved them into second place in the ACC at 12-3. Not bad for a team picked to finish ninth in the league. Dyaisha Fair had 44 points in the two games and is at 3,257 for her career.

Dropped out: Louisville Cardinals, Oklahoma Sooners