For the first time this season the Bears are in the poll, checking in at No. 24 in the ratings released on Monday evening.
“We’re in the middle of a tough stretch of games right now but feel good about how we’re playing,” said Coach Kelly Wells, who is in his fifth season at the helm of the Bears. “If we didn’t think we were one of the top teams in the country we wouldn’t expect it. We think we are, and we’re glad the raters have finally taken notice to our play.”
Pikeville had two big wins since the last poll was released last week. On Thursday night the Bears knocked off sixth-ranked Georgetown 66-65, and followed it up on Saturday with their 20th win of the season, a 109-55 decision over Shawnee State University.
At 20-5, the Bears are one of only 12 teams in the country to reach 20 wins this season.
Last week, after a loss at Cumberlands and a win at Lindsey Wilson, the Bears received only eight votes in the poll. But their two impressive wins last week raised that total to 71, good for 24th.
Two other Mid-South Conference teams are also in the poll. Georgetown, at 22-3, fell to No. 9 after its loss at Pikeville, and Cumberlands, which also went 1-1 last week, fell one position to No. 20.
Pikeville was 1-1 against both those teams this season.
St. Catharine College, which will visit Pikeville on Saturday afternoon, fell out of the Top 25 and is 29th this week, and is the only other MSC team getting votes this week.
Pikeville will return to the East Kentucky Expo Center on Thursday night, putting the ranking and a 9-4 league record on the line against Campbellsville University. The Bears beat the Tigers 87-76 on Jan. 6 at Campbellsville.
The game, which will air live on WYMT-TV, will start at 8:07 p.m., and be preceded by a women’s game between Pikeville and Campbellsville.
Campbellsville moved up one spot to No. 3 in this week’s NAIA Div. I women’s poll, while Pikeville picked up one vote in the ratings, having won seven of its last eight, all against league competition.