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Gopher hoops team breaks into AP top 10 for first time in 16 years

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It's taken 16 years, but the Gophers men's basketball team is back in The Associated Press' top 10 rankings.

The AP's 65-member media panel ranked the Gophers at No. 9 on Monday, up two slots from last week.

Duke earned the top spot for the third consecutive week, following by Michigan, Arizona, Louisville, Indiana and Kansas. Rounding out the top 10 were Syracuse, Ohio State, Minnesota and Gonzaga.

The last time the Gophers were in The AP top 10 was in the final poll in 1996-1997 -- the team's Final Four season -- when they were ranked No. 3.

The news comes just before the Gophers open up their Big 10 season against Michigan State Monday night at Williams Arena.

Coach Tubby Smith's Gophers squad heads into the final half of the regular season with a 12-1 record, only losing only to then-fifth ranked Duke on Nov. 22.

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