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College Basketball Rankings Week 12: Kentucky Back At No. 1 In AP Poll

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Kentucky is back at No. 1 in the AP Top 25.
Kentucky is back at No. 1 in the AP Top 25.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky is back on top of The Associated Press' college basketball poll. Freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has a simple plan on how to stay there.

"All we've got to do is win games and we'll be No. 1 forever," said Kidd-Gilchrist, one of three freshman starters for the Wildcats. "To be this young as a team and to be No. 1, that's a blessing."

Kentucky is the only team in last week's top four not to lose over the weekend.

The Wildcats, who were ranked No. 1 for two weeks earlier this season, moved up one place Monday after receiving 61 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel.

"We'll address it for a second or two, but we've just got to play," Kentucky coach John Calipari said.

Missouri, which got two No. 1 votes, jumped from fifth to second, while Syracuse, which was in first place for the past six weeks, dropped to third after losing at Notre Dame, its first loss this season. The Orange were No. 1 on two ballots.

"Wow. Who would've thunk it? It's a tremendous honor," Tigers coach Frank Haith said. "These guys are to be commended for their hard work, how they've played. I'm really proud of them. But we also know that rankings; it's nice, but at the end of the day, we want to be playing in March."

Kentucky lost the No. 1 ranking when it fell Dec. 10 at Indiana on Christian Watford's 3-pointer at the buzzer. Since then, the Wildcats have won 11 straight by an average of 17.6 points with road games this week at Georgia on Tuesday night and LSU on Saturday.

Even during the winning streak, Calipari said he hasn't liked how his team has responded to physical play and that the Wildcats might be due for an upset again soon after watching film as a team on Sunday night.

"I like my team. We're going on a tough road trip, but I did tell them the way this is going we probably need a loss so that we'll come together and say, `We're not losing like this.' In other words, getting manhandled," Calipari said. "We're getting manhandled and winning close games so they think it's OK."

Ohio State and Kansas moved up two places to fourth and fifth and were followed by Baylor, which fell three places after losing two games last week, North Carolina, Duke, Georgetown and Michigan State. Duke dropped four places after losing to Florida State at home.

Murray State, the lone remaining unbeaten team in Division I at 20-0, is 11th and doesn't play again until Saturday against Eastern Illinois.

"Today, I happened to drive by the arena and I just saw a line of people and students out there trying to get tickets right now, a whole week before our game," Racers guard Donte Poole said. "It just motivates you. It makes you keep that enthusiasm up, keep on doing the things that have gotten us here."

UNLV is 12th followed by San Diego State, Florida, Creighton, Indiana, Marquette, Mississippi State, Virginia, Michigan, St. Mary's and Kansas State.

Florida State, which beat North Carolina and Duke in its four-game winning streak, moves back into the poll at No. 23. Connecticut fell to No. 24 and Wisconsin, which has won four straight after losing three in a row, is back at No. 25.

Illinois, which lost to Penn State and Wisconsin last week, dropped out from 22nd. Louisville, which reached as high as No. 4 this season but has lost five of eight, fell out from 23rd.

North Carolina is the only other team to be ranked No. 1 this season, holding the spot in the preseason Top 25 and the first poll of the regular season.

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AP freelance reporter Jake Kreinberg in Columbia, Mo., contributed to this report.

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