Photo by James Gilbert | Getty Images

The Florida Gators women’s basketball, for the first time since December 2016, cracked the Associated Press Top 25, debuting at No. 19.

The Gators, under interim head coach Kelly Rae Finley, sit 17-6 for the year and 7-3 in the Southeastern Conference, good enough for third in the SEC and two games behind No. 1 South Carolina.

Florida shot up the rankings since Jan. 9, winning seven of its past eight games with five ranked wins, three of which came on the road. The five ranked wins are the most in a season for the Gators in 16 years.

The exclamation point on the orange and blue’s newly ranked resume came Sunday in Athens, taking down the No. 14 Georgia Bulldogs for the first time in nine years and the sixth time in program history. Florida overcame a late deficit in the final five minutes by closing the game on an 8-0 run.

The Gators’ AP ranking ranks as an even bigger achievement considering star guard Lavender Briggs, now due to transfer to Maryland, ended her season due to injury on Jan. 6, when Florida sat 10-5 for the season.

Finley and her team’s first game with a number by the logo is Thursday, as the No. 19 Gators take on Mississippi State on the road.

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