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Arizona women’s basketball slips out of Top 5 in latest Associated Press Top 25

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 07 Women’s - Washington State at Arizona Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Coming off a 21-day period with no games and missing two starters wasn’t a recipe for great basketball. The Arizona Wildcats struggled to put away Washington State at home on Friday, then they fell to USC on the road on Sunday. The result was dropping three spots in the Associated Press Top 25 to No. 7.

The Wildcats had been in the Top 5 for four weeks heading into their first week of Pac-12 play, but they hadn’t been on the court to defend that ranking for most of that time. Prior to Jan. 7 when the Cougars came to town, they had not played a game since Dec. 17 at NAU.

Arizona missed its big game against Texas on Dec. 19 due to COVID-19 protocols within its own program, then the Wildcats missed the opening weekend of Pac-12 play due to protocols within the UCLA and USC programs. When Washington pulled out of the Jan. 9 game, Arizona was able to reschedule the Women of Troy for that date.

The shuffling and playing with a shorter roster will likely be an issue for everyone this year, Arizona head coach Adia Barnes said after the loss to USC. It’s something they must learn to adapt to.

Stanford was able to adapt. The Cardinal defeated Oregon on Friday, then won a hastily-scheduled rematch against Gonzaga when Oregon State postponed their Jan. 9 game. It was a good showing for the league’s top-ranked team. They went 2-0 on the week and stayed in second place in the poll behind No. 1 South Carolina.

For the first time since the sixth week of the poll, the Cardinal and Wildcats were joined by another Pac-12 team. Colorado, who is now the only undefeated women’s team in the country, moved back into the poll at No. 22.

The Buffaloes defeated both UCLA and USC this week to improve to 13-0. Their first big challenge of the season comes next week when they face No. 2 Stanford in Boulder. The Cardinal have shown weaknesses this season, especially when it comes to turnovers, so it’s not entirely out of the question that the Buffs could roll into Tucson sporting a 16-0 record on Jan. 23. Both teams just need to stay healthy.