Teams in sec­ond half of AP poll have bad week

The Oklahoman - - SPORTS - BY AARON BEARD

RALEIGH, N.C. — 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.

Ranked losses

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.

Road suc­cess One rea­son for thir­dranked 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).

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