RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The teams leading the AP Top 25 spent the week piling up victories or surviving close calls, most notably when top-ranked Duke posted a last-second win at No. 13 Florida State.
Things didn’t go nearly so well for teams in the second half of the poll.
In the latest sign of what could be another unpredictable March, 12 of the 15 teams outside the top 10 lost at least once and combined for 17 losses. That included five teams losing twice: No. 14 Mississippi State, No. 16 Ohio State, No. 20 Iowa State, No. 24 St. John’s and No. 25 TCU.
The only ranked teams outside the top 10 to avoid losses were No. 18 Kentucky, No. 19 Buffalo and No. 21 Marquette, setting the stage for some significant changes in Monday’s new poll.
Some of the losses, at least, came in matchups against higher-ranked league opponents, headlined by the Seminoles falling on Cam Reddish’s 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left despite Duke playing the second half without star freshman Zion Williamson (poked in the eye).
The others were No. 15 North Carolina State losing to No. 12 North Carolina, No. 23 Oklahoma falling to eighth-ranked Texas Tech and the Horned Frogs losing to both the Sooners and No. 7 Kansas in the Big 12.
One reason for third-ranked Tennessee’s success has been its ability to handle playing on the road.
The Volunteers won at Florida on Saturday, earning their first 10-game winning streak since the 2007-08 season. It was also the program’s fifth straight win in true road games dating to last season, with this year’s wins coming at Memphis and then Missouri in Southeastern Conference play.
It was Tennessee’s first win at Florida since February 2012 after three straight losses there, according to Sports Reference LLC’s college basketball site.
CAVS’ OUTSIDE REACH
Fourth-ranked Virginia had little trouble in Atlantic Coast Conference wins at Boston College and Clemson , giving the Cavaliers a 12-game road winning streak in league play.
Among the highlights: the Cavaliers’ ability to connect from 3-point range to go with that traditionally strong defense.
Virginia made nearly 43 percent of its 3-pointers in the two games, first by making 8 of 19 against the Eagles followed by hitting 10 of 23 against the Tigers. Virginia is 16th nationally in 3-point percentage on the season (39.5 percent), which has helped the Cavaliers rank sixth in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency rankings (117.5 points per 100 possessions).
There could be a lot of 3s in their next game, too. Ninth-ranked Virginia Tech visits on Tuesday ranked fourth nationally in 3-point percentage (.423) and 16th in made 3s per game (10.4).
Kansas coach Bill Self saw signs that his Jayhawks can protect the rim after losing 7-foot junior Udoka Azubuike to a season-ending hand injury.
The Jayhawks finished with a season-high 11 blocked shots in Saturday’s win at Baylor , including five from 6-9 Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson and two more from 6-5 freshman guard Quentin Grimes.
“We did a good job early in the game of getting some blocked shots (by) walling up,” Self said, “and that’s what happens when you guard it right.”
Azubuike was averaging 1.6 blocks per game before being lost for the season. He swatted a team-high 60 shots during last year’s run to the Final Four.
North Carolina sure looked as if it had some momentum with four straight wins, three coming by at least 20 points before winning at rival N.C. State in the first meeting with both schools in the AP poll since February 2006. That’s what made Saturday’s 83-62 loss to Louisville — UNC’s worst home loss under Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams — such a head-scratcher.
While the Cardinals turned in their best performance in a while, the Tar Heels shot 35 percent, made 3 of 22 3-pointers and were beaten on the glass (40-31) despite ranking third nationally in rebounding margin.
“These (ACC) teams are good and we’ve got to bring it,” swingman Cameron Johnson said. “And if we don’t, this is what’s going to happen. The thing is I feel like we’re way better than what we showed today, and we’ll show that in the future.”