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Florida women's basketball claims program's first national ranking since 2009

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The Gators are No. 20 in this week's AP Poll.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

After an unbeaten week on the road in the SEC — including their second win ever at Tennessee — the Florida Gators are ranked in the national polls for the first time this decade.

The Gators vaulted from the No. 38 spot in the also receiving votes section of last week's AP Poll to the No. 20 spot in this Monday's edition of the poll, claiming the program's first ranking since the end of 2009.

That 2008-09 team was ranked as high as No. 9 in one poll that year, and ripped off a school-record 15-game winning streak en route to that perch. But those Gators finished tied for fourth in a rugged SEC, and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to eventual national champion Connecticut.

This year, the 14-2 Gators are behind only unbeaten South Carolina and Mississippi State — two top-10 teams — in the SEC standings, and own a win over Florida State in addition to their victory over Tennessee.

And the Gators will have a great shot at staying ranked for at least the rest of the month, with just two of the other six ranked SEC teams in this week's poll, No. 24 Missouri and No. 9 Kentucky, set to see Florida before the end of January. And the Gators will face the Wildcats in the O'Connell Center.

In those coming weeks, Florida has an opportunity to put significant distance between itself and what could be a stacked middle class in the SEC. If the Gators make good on it and sustain their recent success, this could evolve into one of the finest seasons in the history of an oft-beleaguered program.