Pac-12

Women's Top 25 Round-Up: JuJu Watkins & USC Are "Incredible" In Rivalry Win

Women's Top 25 Round-Up: JuJu Watkins & USC Are "Incredible" In Rivalry Win

In a showdown of Final Four caliber, USC knocked UCLA from the ranks of the unbeaten, leaving No. 1 South Carolina as the sole remaining undefeated.

Jan 16, 2024 by Kyle Kensing
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"What an incredible day," is how USC basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb opened her postgame press conference following the Trojans' 73-65 defeat of UCLA, and she wasn't exaggerating. 

The electricity in a sold-out Galen Center, as both USC's and UCLA's best respective player — JuJu Watkins and Charisma Osborne — delivered standout performances, permeated through the TV screen. Only a Western Conference Finals Game 7 between the Clippers and Lakers, improbable as that may be, could produce more buzz on Los Angeles hardwood. 

This was an April weekend-quality contest played the second weekend of January. 

And, behind Watkins' 32 points and 10 rebounds, USC exacted revenge for an earlier, 71-64 setback — the lone blemish on the Trojans' record this season — with a 73-65 win. 

USC's victory propelled the Trojans to No. 6 in the Jan. 15 Associated Press Top 25, and knocked UCLA from the ranks of the unbeaten. The Bruins went into the contest one of only two teams left with perfect records. 

South Carolina holds firm with an unbeaten record, and continued claim to the poll's No. 1 spot. The Gamecocks' 98-36 romp over Kentucky included one of the week's highlights with AShlyn Watkins putting down a strong dunk off a steal. 

But as far as players named Watkins in the national spotlight, JuJu was front-and-center. The freshman's starring performance vs. UCLA garnered AP National Player of the Week recognition. 

She might be a first-year player, but the showing against UCLA was hardly Watkins' first dominating against premier competition. She opened her college career with 32 points in a win over Ohio State, and went for a Baha Mar Pink Flamingo record 31 vs. Penn State

"Being part of a new team, having so many new pieces, you don't have too many expectations," Watkins said in the postgame press conference. "Now I have so much more confidence in this team and what we bring. So like coach Lindsay says, this doesn't surprise us." 

Pac-12 basketball is a gauntlet this season, though, so USC has no time to bask in the crosstown-rivalry win before jumping back into Top 25 competition. 

The Trojans face a pair of ranked opponents with a Rocky Mountain road trip to No. 20 Utah on Friday and No. 3 Colorado on Friday. 

The Buffs return to their highest position in the poll and the top billing in the conference at 15-1. 

Colorado trails only South Carolina and Iowa, which jumped to No. 2 following a dominant performance against top 20-ranked Indiana. Caitlin Clark's otherworldly play continued with 30 points — which came on 21 shot attempts, not 40 — with 11 assists in the 84-57 win. 

Another of the past week's big performances from the Top 25 came courtesy of the Creighton tandem of Emma Ronsiek and Lauren Jensen. Each scored 22 points and shot a combined 17-of-30 from the floor in Creighton's 81-70 defeat of Providence. 

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Jan. 15 Women's AP Top 25

1. South Carolina

Record: 15-0 

Previous; No. 1 

2. Iowa

Record: 17-1

Previous: No. 3

3. Colorado

Record: 15-1 

Previous: No. 5 

4. North Carolina State

Record: 15-1 

Previous: No. 6

5. UCLA

Record: 14-1

Previous: No. 2 

6. USC

Record: 13-1

Previous: No. 9 

7. Kansas State

Record: 17-1

Previous: No. 12 

8. Stanford

Record: 15-2

Previous: No. 8 

9. UConn

Record: 14-3

Previous: No. 13 

10. LSU

Record: 16-2

Previous: No. 7 

11. Texas

Record: 16-2

Previous: No. 10 

12. Baylor

Record: 14-2

Previous: No. 4

13. Louisville

Record: 15-2

Previous: No. 15 

14. Virginia Tech

Record: 13-3

Previous: No. 11

15. Florida State

Record: 14-4

Previous: No. 21 

16. Indiana

Record: 14-2

Previous: No. 14

17. Gonzaga

Record: 16-2

Previous: No. 16 

18. Ohio State

Record: 13-3

Previous: No. 17 

19. Notre Dame

Record: 12-3

Previous: No. 18 

20. Utah

Record: 12-5

Previous: No. 19 

21. Creighton

Record: 13-3

Previous: No. 22

22. Marquette

Record: 15-2

Previous: No. 23

23. North Carolina

Record: 12-5

Previous: No. 20 

24. Iowa State

Record: 12-4

Previous: Not Ranked

25. UNLV

Record: 14-1

Previous: No. 25