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January 23, 2012

On the Rise


Following a wild weekend that saw three of the country's top five teams lose, the Missouri Tigers are Monday's biggest beneficiary. The Tigers rose from fifth to second in both the Associated Presse and Coaches' polls released on Monday. Kentucky is first in both polls.

Mizzou started last week ranked fifth. The Tigers beat Texas A&M 70-51 on Monday and won at Baylor 89-88 on Saturday afternoon to move to 18-1 this season. The Bears had been ranked third in the country and had not lost at home this season. The week earned the Tigers two first-place votes in the AP poll and moved them in front of Syracuse, Duke and Baylor.

The ranking is Missouri's highest in a decade. On December 15th, 2001, the Tigers were ranked second before an 83-65 loss to Iowa. Mizzou lost its next two to Illinois and DePaul to fall out of the top ten. By mid-February, Missouri was out of the rankings entirely. That Missouri team snuck into the NCAA Tournament as a 12-seed before regaining its early season form and advancing to the Elite Eight.

The Tigers have not been No. 1 in the country since the 1989-90 season when they spent four out of five weeks in the top spot. That team was in the top ten from December 2nd to March 9th and never ranked lower than 11th before a first-round NCAA Tournament upset at the hands of Northern Iowa.

Missouri plays next on Wednesday night at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are coached by Travis Ford who was, coincidentally, a freshman on that 1989-90 Tiger team.

"What stands out to me is we had such a very close team. We had Anthony Peeler, Doug Smith, all those guys. Even though I was a freshman, we were very, very close. Very close group of guys," Ford said on Monday's Big 12 teleconference. "Columbia was a fun place to be when you were winning, no question. No question about it."

After the game in Stillwater, Mizzou returns home to face Texas Tech. Those teams are a combined 16-21, including 2-10 collectively in Big 12 play. Kentucky has road games at Georgia (10-9) and LSU (12-7) before the rankings come out again.

Click here for the coaches' poll

Click here for the Associated Press poll
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