The Herald (Rock Hill) - - Sports -

Back half of Top 25 has dif­fi­cult week

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. No. 6 Michi­gan St. 71, Penn St. 56: Nick Ward had 16 points and 11 re­bounds to lead the Spar­tans (15-2, 6-0 Big Ten) to vic­tory in State Col­lege, Pa. Matt McQuaid added 15 points and Cas­sius Win­ston chipped in 11 for Michi­gan State, which has won 10 straight. The Spar­tans also beat the Nit­tany Li­ons ( 7-10, 0-6) for the 10th con­sec­u­tive time.

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