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Columbia Missourian

Missouri men's basketball drops in rankings

By Zach Miller
February 27, 2012 | 12:35 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The Missouri men's basketball team dropped four spots to No. 7 in the latest Associated Press poll on Monday.

The Tigers also dropped to No. 8 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll. 

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The drop comes after Missouri lost back-to-back games for the first time this season — a 78-68 home loss to Kansas State on Tuesday and a heartbreaking 87-86 overtime loss at Kansas on Saturday.

Despite the disappointing loss, Missouri coach Frank Haith said he is is proud of his team for nearly beating a top team on the road.

"These guys have no reason to hang their heads," Haith said in a Monday morning teleconference.

After beating Missouri, Kansas (24-5, 14-2) moved up to No. 3 in the AP poll and No. 4 in the coaches' poll.* Kentucky and Syracuse own the top two spots in both polls. Baylor (24-5, 11-5) is ranked No. 9 in the AP poll and No. 10 in the coaches' poll, giving the Big 12 three top-10 teams.

Kansas is now in position to finish in first place in the Big 12 standings. The Jayhawks can clinch the one-seed in the Big 12 tournament with a win against Oklahoma State (14-15, 7-9) on Monday night.

Missouri (25-4, 12-4) can earn the two-seed in the Big 12 tournament by winning its final two regular season games this week. The Tigers play Iowa State (21-8, 11-5) on Wednesday, then at Texas Tech (8-20, 1-15) on Saturday.

Wednesday's game will be the last home game for Missouri's eight seniors. Four-year seniors Marcus Denmon, Kim English, Steve Moore and Jarrett Sutton will leave as the winningest four-year class in the program.  

"I recognize what these guys have contributed to this university," Missouri coach Frank Haith said. "They've put their heart and soul into this program for four years. They've won so much and done it in a first-class manner. I'm proud to be a part of it."

The seniors will have to balance their emotion with focus because Iowa State comes in on a three-game winning streak and tied for third place in the Big 12. Missouri beat Iowa State 76-69 in Ames on Jan. 11.

"Frank Haith has done an unbelievable job with this group," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said Monday. "They'll be ready."