Both Florida and Florida State remained in the top 20 in this week’s AP Top 25 college basketball poll. But they are heading in opposite directions.
The Gators (22-5) won their seventh and eighth consecutive games during the week to climb into the 13th position in the poll. They were 15th a week ago. Both of Florida’s wins against Auburn and Mississippi State during the past week were on the road.
The Seminoles, on the other hand played only one game last week and that was a double-digit loss at Pittsburgh. Despite losing their last five road games by at least 10 points, FSU (21-6) managed to claim the 19th position in the poll. They were 17th a week ago.
Florida again demonstrated mental toughness over the past week. Auburn gave them a strong effort, but the Gators wound up scoring the most points ever in an SEC game, posting a 114-95 victory.
After senior center John Egbunu went down with a season-ending injury in the Auburn game, Florida was ripe for an upset on Saturday. They shot only 38 percent against Mississippi State, but the Gator defense rallied together to pull out a 57-52 win.
“We’ve been able to find different ways to win different games,” said Florida Coach Mike White. “It’s been different guys night in and night out and (Saturday) is just another example.”
While White is pushing buttons to compensate for the loss of Egbunu, FSU Coach Leonard Hamilton has a different problem. His team is healthy, but they fail to show up on the road. They have two road games remaining, including a rematch at No. 10 Duke on Feb. 28.
Gonzaga, Villanova and Kansas claimed the top three spots for another week. The ACC and Pac 12 showed their strength with each conference having three schools in the top 10.
Arizona, UCLA and Oregon claimed positions 4-6 while Louisville, North Carolina and Duke were ranked seventh, eighth and 10th, respectively.
Virginia and Notre Dame joined FSU to make it six ACC teams in the top 25. Kentucky and Florida were the only two SEC schools to be ranked.