ACC Basketball Game Stories, Dec. 21


Check below for game stories from all the ACC basketball action on Wednesday. While we’re in non-conference play, stories will be listed in alphabetical order, by which ACC team is involved.

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Blocks Help Florida State Beat No. 22 UMass 60-55  

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) – Florida State reserve center Boris Bojanovsky says he got his hand on Massachusetts’ final shot Saturday, which wasn’t surprising, because he kept getting in the Minutemen’s way all game.

The 7-foot-3 sophomore had a career-high seven blocks in 16 minutes, and Florida State handed No. 22 UMass its first defeat of the season, 60-55, in the Orange Bowl Classic.

Florida State scored the game’s final six points. The Minutemen failed to score on their final four possessions while committing two turnovers, including one when Cady Lalanne was called for hanging on the rim on a dunk.

Bojanovsky’s defense threw off Lalanne.

“I tried to hustle because I was late, so I tried to go up with him,” Bojanovsky said. “I blocked his shot, and he hung on to the rim.”

The call preserved Florida State’s 58-55 lead with 3 seconds remaining. Aaron Thomas made two free throws with 2 seconds left to seal the victory.

Confronted with twin-tower defenders, Massachusetts needed to shoot well from the perimeter, and couldn’t do it. The Minutemen went 1 for 15 from 3-point range.

Florida State had a season-high 12 blocks. Michael Ojo, a 7-1 sophomore, contributed two blocks, seven points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes.

“To beat them, you’re going to have to make some 3s,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “I’m not sure I’ve seen a team shoot 1 for 15 from 3 and win. I’m not sure that’s possible.”

Florida State (8-3) beat a ranked team for the second time this season.

“We needed this victory going into the Christmas break,” coach Leonard Hamilton said. “Santa Claus came early.”

UMass (10-1) had been off to its best start since 1995.

“We know how it feels to lose a game now,” said Lalanne, a junior who scored 10 points and tied a career high with 15 rebounds. “It’s motivation.”

Thomas scored 18 points and was voted the game’s most valuable player.

“It was one of those grind-out games that you hope you pull out at the end,” Hamilton said. “We just never seemed to get into a rhythm, but at the end we did a better job of executing and made enough plays.”

Bojanovsky had three blocks down the stretch.

“I tried to go after every shot,” he said. “I’m glad I helped my team to win.”

Two free throws by Ian Miller with 1:06 left gave the Seminoles the lead for good.

The Minutemen shot a season-low 33 percent, and their starters were 0 for 12 from 3-point range. Their point total was a season low, 29 below their average.

“We missed layups, open shots and free throws,” Kellogg said. “I remember 14 or 16 layups we missed. That’s attributable to Florida State’s size.”

Derrick Gordon had 12 points for UMass, and Chaz Williams scored 10.

Florida State had season lows in points and shooting, hitting just 37 percent. The Seminoles, who went 1 for 7 from 3-point range, were coming off their highest scoring game since 2005, scoring 106 points in a win over Charlotte.

Players on both teams said the rims were unforgiving.

“In warmups we were complaining about the rims,” Thomas said. “We weren’t happy with them. They weren’t breakaways. We weren’t able to get a shooter’s roll.”

Neither team led by more than five points, and the lead changed hands 13 times as both teams struggled offensively from the start. The Seminoles missed 16 of their first 19 shots, while UMass missed its first eight 3-point tries.

“We both defended each other,” Hamilton said. “They did a lot of things that threw us out of rhythm. They’re the most athletic team we’ve faced all year.”

Montay Brandon had eight points and nine rebounds for Florida State.

UMass scored nine consecutive points to lead 11-6. The Seminoles were up 30-28 at halftime, then trailed for most of the second half before Miller put them ahead to stay.

Florida State wore turquoise uniforms to raise awareness for Native American and Aboriginal youth.

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Vanderbilt Rallies Past Georgia Tech, 76-63 
 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings asked his players on Friday for a special gift this holiday season, and they delivered.

Rod Odom scored 18 points – including four 3-pointers – and Vanderbilt rallied from 14 points down in the first half to end Georgia Tech’s three-game win streak 76-63 on Saturday.

“Coach told us that if we win today, it would be a present for him, that was the only gift he wanted,” senior guard Kyle Fuller said. “Thankfully we got that W for him and he can go home happy, and we don’t have to go to practice worrying about what’s going to happen after Christmas.”

It was the third straight victory for the Commodores (7-3) after a pair of two-point squeakers. It also marked their first win in 1˝ seasons over a team from a power conference.

Dai-Jon Parker added 13 points and a pair of treys, while Fuller scored 12 points to spark Vanderbilt off the bench for the second consecutive game.

“This made Christmas a lot happier for me,” Stallings said. “. A couple of them walked by the door when we got into the locker room, and they said ‘Merry Christmas.’ I told them I appreciated that. They made this Christmas a lot better for me because they played well. I think they made it a lot better for themselves too.”

The Commodores completed a 29-point turnaround to take a 56-41 advantage with 10:21 left on Fuller’s drive and subsequent assist to Luke Kornet. The Yellow Jackets scored only 10 points over a period of 17-plus minutes and were outscored 41-12 during the decisive run.

“Both teams were in similar situations, and they were able to hold on there and kind of rally the troops a little bit at the end of the first half and get back in the game,” third-year Tech coach Brian Gregory said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do the same.”

Center Daniel Miller had 11 of his 16 points in the first half for the Yellow Jackets (8-4). But he went 27 minutes without a field goal, scoring his final five points in the last 3 minutes of the game. Miller, who has started all 105 games in his Georgia Tech career, finished with 10 rebounds.

Vanderbilt trimmed a 14-point deficit to 31-29 at halftime on a three-point in-bounds play from Fuller assisted by Parker.

“Coach brought us together, said we need to bring it down to seven,” Fuller said. “We started locking in, buying in, everybody helping, everybody talking, playing defense and all of a sudden our offense started clicking.”

The Commodores then opened the second half with a 9-2 run. Odom’s second 3-pointer of the game put Vanderbilt ahead 34-33 for their first lead since 11-10, and the Commodores stretched it to 43-36 on five straight points by Fuller.

Solomon Poole (11 points) hit his third 3-pointer for Georgia Tech to pull within 43-39, but Shelby Moats sank a trey for Vanderbilt. The Commodores then pushed it out to 52-39 on Odom’s jumper, Kornet’s 2-of-3 free throws, and Eric McClellan’s dunk after a steal.

“I can’t remember us defending like that and scoring like that for as long a stretch as we did tonight,” Odom said.

Odom, who missed only one of five shots behind the arc, hit two 3-pointers during an 11-4 spurt down the stretch to hold off the Yellow Jackets. Parker added his own 3-pointer to give Vanderbilt its largest lead at 71-54.

Trae Golden, playing Vanderbilt for the first time since transferring from Tennessee, contributed eight points for Georgia Tech. Marcus Georges-Hunt and Robert Carter Jr. were limited to eight points combined.

Miller extended the Yellow Jackets’ advantage to 25-15 on a three-point play. Stacey Poole Jr. then had back-to-back baskets to push the lead to 29-15 on a 12-0 run.

“I thought there were stretches in the first half where we played exceptionally well, we moved the ball well, we got the ball inside, we made some extra passes,” Gregory said.

But the Commodores went on a 14-2 spurt to close within 31-29 at halftime on Parker’s 3-pointer and Fuller’s three-point play for his first points.

“I don’t know why, I don’t know how, but we just stayed with it and our guys kept playing hard and they stopped playing as well and we started playing better,” Stallings said.

Vanderbilt committed only nine turnovers for the game after having 19 turnovers in its last outing against Austin Peay on Tuesday. Fuller and Parker combined for nine of the team’s 17 assists, and Moats made two steals.

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Boston University Shocks Maryland 83-77 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) – Boston University got 25 points from D.J. Irving and displayed far more poise than Maryland down the stretch, surprising the Terrapins 83-77 Saturday to snap a three-game losing streak.

The Terriers (7-5) blew a 10-point halftime lead before using a 13-3 run to go up 70-61 with 3:44 left. Maryland (7-5) had no answer and ended up with its third defeat in five games.

Dom Morris scored 16 for BU, which was coming off a loss to Norfolk State and earlier lost to Eastern Washington and Harvard. In this one, however, the Terriers were up to the challenge against an Atlantic Coast Conference foe.

Dez Wells led Maryland with 18 points and Evan Smotrycz had 15 points and 13 rebounds. But the Terrapins committed 17 turnovers and went 15 for 26 at the line.

Down 42-32 at halftime, the Terrapins got six points from Smotrycz in a 13-6 run that cut the deficit to 49-45. Morris stemmed the surge with a follow shot, but Jonathan Graham made a layup and Wells scored off an alley-oop pass to tie it at 51 with 12:25 remaining.

A 15-footer by Wells with 9:08 left put Maryland up 56-55 – its first lead since 18-17. The Terriers then peeled off seven straight points, the last four by Cedric Hankerson, and two straight baskets by Morris made it 68-61 with 4:20 to go.

Despite facing a team that usually excels at home, Boston U. never wilted. Maryland went into foul-mode in the closing minutes, and the Terriers patiently made their free throws.

In the 200th game at Comcast Center, Maryland was unable to provide coach Mark Turgeon his 300th career victory. Instead, he absorbed one of his more painful defeats.

Irving scored 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting during a first half in which the Terrapins had as many turnovers as baskets (11).

Maryland made only two of its first 12 shots, committed four turnovers and trailed 12-5 after the first eight minutes.

A 10-2 run put the Terrapins up 18-17, but John Papale hit a pair of 3s and Morris contributed a three-point play in a 9-0 burst that gave the Terriers an eight-point cushion.

It was 31-28 before Hankerson drilled a 3-pointer and was fouled by Roddy Peters, which caused Turgeon to stomp his foot in frustration. The four-point play ignited an 11-2 run that put BU up.

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No. 14 North Carolina Beats Davidson 97-85 In OT 

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina endured an emotionally volatile week packed with a big win, a frustrating loss as well as the mixed outcome to the program’s long wait to learn the status of two players ensnared by NCAA troubles.

The No. 14 Tar Heels capped it all with a tough win, from surviving a potential winning 3-pointer from a shooter having a career day to reversing their season-long struggles at the foul line in overtime.

Marcus Paige scored 11 of his 17 points in the extra period to help North Carolina beat Davidson 97-85 on Saturday in the team’s final game before the Christmas holiday.

Paige missed his first six shots and didn’t score until the 8:17 mark of the second half, but took over late to help the Tar Heels (8-3) bounce back from Wednesday’s loss to Texas in a week that started with last weekend’s tough-it-out win against Kentucky.

Four days later, the NCAA cleared senior Leslie McDonald – who had missed the first nine games due to NCAA eligibility concerns – hours before tipoff of an 86-83 home loss to the Longhorns in a performance that left coach Roy Williams so angry that he scheduled a 5 a.m. practice the next day.

Then, on Friday, the school said it wouldn’t seek reinstatement from the NCAA for junior P.J. Hairston after last season’s leading scorer committed several rule violations largely focused on using cars linked to a felon and party promoter.

“That’s about as much drama as you can get in one week as a team, as a young team,” Paige said. “But I think we handled it well. We understood we had a four- or five-day break coming up so we just had to get through this game and get to the break so we could rejuvenate and come back and be ready to go.”

With Hairston watching from the bench, J.P. Tokoto had career-highs of 22 points and 11 rebounds to lead North Carolina. The Tar Heels needed two free throws from Paige with 29.3 seconds left to force OT, then dominated the extra period with Paige scoring in the lane to open overtime and hitting his only 3 moments later to put UNC in control.

UNC survived a career-best 33 points and seven 3-pointers from Davidson’s Brian Sullivan, who had a chance to win it in regulation after Paige’s tying free throws but missed a contested 3 over Nate Britt just before the horn.

The Wildcats (4-8) then went 2-for-10 from the field in overtime to fade late and lose their third straight.

“I think we got a little deflated when we didn’t put the game away in regulation,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said, adding that fatigue was a factor.

The Tar Heels have taken coach Roy Williams for a wild ride this year. They beat highly ranked Michigan State, Kentucky and Louisville without Hairston and McDonald while the school and NCAA reviewed their eligibility.

They also lost at home to Belmont and on the road to UAB, then nearly added another surprising loss to that list Saturday.

Tokoto – who has thrived in a bigger role due to Hairston’s absence – looked sharp from start to finish. The 6-foot-5 sophomore went 8-for-14 from the field and had five steals with four blocks in 35 minutes.

“My role has been the same: attack the boards, be an offensive threat when needed, be a defensive stopper for coach and the team,” Tokoto said. “Whatever we need, be that person. I had it in my mind I was going to be it with P.J. or without him.”

Paige assisted on Britt’s jumper early in the overtime, then hit two free throws before knocking down the 3 that pushed UNC to an 88-80 lead.

The Tar Heels, one of the nation’s worst free-throw shooting teams, secured the win with an unusually steady performance at the line. After missing 12 free throws in regulation, they went 11-for-12 in overtime.

North Carolina scored 27 points off 22 turnovers and shot 48 percent.

Davidson shot 46 percent behind Sullivan, who had had made just 5 of 28 3-pointers in his last four games before going 7-for-14 Saturday.

“I think this is what Brian is capable of doing,” McKillop said. “This is why we’re excited about him playing for us.”

De’Mon Brooks, the preseason Southern Conference player of the year, returned after missing six games with a groin injury to score 13 points in 28 minutes before fouling out in the final minute of regulation.

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Warren, Vandenberg Help N.C. State Beat ECU 90-79  

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina State kept tossing the ball toward the rim and 7-footer Jordan Vandenberg kept dunking it.

“We were going to keep doing it until they could stop it,” Vandenberg said.

East Carolina couldn’t.

Vandenberg scored 16 of his career-high 18 points in the second half – and converted on a series of alley-oop dunks – to help N.C. State beat the Pirates 90-79on Saturday for its seventh straight win.

T.J. Warren had a career-high 32 points on 14-of-23 shooting and Anthony “Cat” Barber finished with 16 points.

The Wolfpack (9-2) shot 58 percent – their second-best shooting performance of the season – while improving to 20-1 in the cross-state series.

“Getting out in transition, that’s all we want to play,” Warren said. “We wanted to tighten up the defense as the game was going on, but it was easy to get out in transition and get easy layups, finish around the rim.”

Akeem Richmond scored 23 points and Caleb White had 14 for East Carolina (10-3), which had one starter taller than 6-foot-7. The Pirates shot 47 percent and hit 10 3-pointers but fell to 0-57 in road games against ACC schools and had their four-game winning streak snapped.

A win would have given East Carolina the best start in school history.

“The difference in the game was just the size,” ECU coach Jeff Lebo said. “We had no low-post presence in there at all. We had to rely on guards making shots and beating people off the dribble.”

The Pirates never led in the second half, but kept themselves within striking distance for much of the way and closed to 82-77 on Richmond’s 3 from the corner with 2½ minutes left.

LSU transfer Ralston Turner countered with a 3, Vandenberg followed with a left-handed hook shot and Barber hit a layup with 1:18 left to give the Wolfpack their largest lead, 89-77.

Turner finished with 11 points on three 3-pointers. Vandenberg – who was 8-for-8 in the second half – keyed two big runs that each put N.C. State up by double figures.

His alley-oop with just under 15 minutes left gave the Wolfpack a 61-51 lead, and Tyler Lewis found him for consecutive alley-oops about 9 minutes later during the burst that eventually made it 80-70.

“That helped with the momentum. It gets everybody excited, and it’s an easy play to run,” Vandenberg said. “It was just good for energy for the team.”

Freshman BeeJay Anya matched a season high by blocking five shots, and they all came in a 5-minute span.

Those rejections came during a 15-0 run that closed the first half and almost single-handedly kept the previously torrid Pirates scoreless for the final six minutes.

“He changed the game,” N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. “He gave us a great lift.”

Warren surpassed the 31 points he scored against Florida State last season, has led or shared the team scoring lead in every game but one for N.C. State and reached the 22-point mark for the eighth time this season.

“That gives us a 20-point buffer against any team we’re playing,” Vandenberg said. “I haven’t seen a team slow him down yet.”

He had 25 in the first half, hitting 11 of 17 shots and beating the halftime buzzer for a layup that made it 45-38.

For the Pirates, that marked quite a reversal. They led 38-30 on the second of Paris Campbell’s back-to-back 3s with just over 6 minutes left.

East Carolina missed its final six attempts – and five of them were blocked by Anya.

 

Prince Williams scored 12 points and Campbell finished with 11 for the Pirates.

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Notre Dame Loses Late Lead, No. 3 Ohio St. Wins 

NEW YORK (AP) – Notre Dame had its first big win of the season almost wrapped up.

The Fighting Irish had a seemingly comfortable lead over No. 3 Ohio State with less than 2 minutes to play.

Instead of that signature win, Notre Dame wound up with a loss that could be hard to bounce back from, 64-61 on Saturday night in the BlackRock Gotham Classic at Madison Square Garden.

“I am so thoroughly disappointed,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “We had such a good chance at such a great win.”

Ohio State turned up the defensive intensity to close the game on a 14-3 run.

“I don’t really know what happened. It was a big blur,” Ohio State senior guard Aaron Craft said. “We never stopped. We never gave up. Guys were running around getting tips and guys made big free throws.”

While a few players did come up with big defensive plays, it was mostly one guy who made the free throws for the Buckeyes (12-0).

Lenzelle Smith Jr. scored seven of his nine points in the final 33 seconds – including going 5 of 5 at the line – to lead the rally.

“I’m still trying to figure out what happened,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “My mind was fixated on if we wanted to foul with the time situation or do we play it out defensively and all of a sudden it was closer and closer and closer and we get the lead. It happened quick, It was a great win.”

The Buckeyes went 9:10 without a field goal and at one point were 6 of 21 from the field as Notre Dame (8-4) opened up its lead.

“I thought we did a good job in the zone knowing the shooters and jamming the lane, keeping it to one and done,” Brey said. “And then we got into such a good offensive rhythm to get some breathing room. But you are never going to be out of the woods against a team like that.”

Jerian Grant hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock was expiring to give the Fighting Irish a 58-50 advantage with 1:54 to play.

The Buckeyes converted consecutive steals into a 58-56 deficit with 40 seconds to go.

Demetrius Jackson made two free throws for Notre Dame a second later.

Smith was fouled taking a 3-pointer and he made all three free throws to bring Ohio State within 60-59 with 32 seconds left.

Steve Vasturia, who was in the game because point guard Eric Atkins had fouled out, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 31 seconds left, his first free throw attempt of the season.

Smith scored down low on a nice pass by Craft to give the Buckeyes a 61-60 lead with 16 seconds to go. After a Notre Dame turnover, Smith made two free throws for a 63-60 lead with 9.8 seconds left.

Grant made one free throw with 6.7 seconds left and Craft made one free throw with 3.3 seconds left.

Jackson missed a potential tying 3 as the buzzer sounded.

“They really turned the heat up on us and flustered us. We had a hard time doing anything right,” Brey said. “We didn’t have Atkins, but the other guys should have handled it better.”

LaQuinton Ross had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Ohio State while Amir Williams had 13 points and Shannon Scott and Craft both added 10.

Grant had 18 points for Notre Dame, which committed five of its 13 turnovers in the final 2 minutes, while Garrick Sherman had 14 and Pat Connaughton 13.

“I’m a senior and I have to find a way to not turn the ball over when we didn’t have our point guard in there,” Grant said.

The Buckeyes shot 34.5 percent in the second half (10 of 29, including missing all nine 3-point attempts). They went 9:10 without a field goal in the second half, and that’s when Notre Dame opened a 52-44 lead with 5:33 to play.

Williams dunked on the next possession to end Ohio State’s long drought.

Notre Dame opened the second half on a 9-2 run that tied the game at 35. The run was started by a 3-pointer by Atkins, the Fighting Irish’s first in seven attempts from beyond the arc.

“I love how we fought and competed in a road atmosphere but we didn’t finish it,” Brey said.

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Patterson Sparks Pittsburgh Past Cal Poly 73-56 

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Pittsburgh lost its first game of the season Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, where the Panthers made just 11 field goals in a 44-43 defeat dealt by Cincinnati. There, senior forward Lamar Patterson took responsibility for the loss after he missed two free throws late in the game that could have given Pitt the win or at least a chance at overtime.

“I took that under the chin for the team,” Patterson said Tuesday. “That was definitely on me.”

Saturday, back home at the Petersen Events Center Patterson made 11 field goals by himself as he scored a career-high 30 points to lead Pitt (11-1) to a 73-56 victory against Cal Poly (4-7). Patterson’s scoring effort left him one point short of 1,000 in his career.

Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon didn’t exactly see Pitt’s first 30-point game in nearly five years coming from Patterson, but knew his senior would responded appropriately to what happened in New York.

“He handled it well afterwards which I thought spoke volumes,” Dixon said. “I thought it was also a great indicator of how he was going to handle it going forward.”

Dixon said he didn’t even need to speak with Patterson about what happened in the loss, and his faith was well-founded.

“I had no doubt that he wouldn’t respond in a positive manner,” Dixon said. “He’s been so good all year long.”

Saturday, Patterson keyed a 14-2 run in the first with nine points of his own which put Pitt up 22-8 with 7:33 to play in the first half. That run was keyed with a pair of 3-pointers, and 3-point play as Zanna fed Patterson for a layup as he was fouled.

At that point Patterson knew he had his shot with him, which resulted in a game-high four 3-pointers.

“I saw the first one go down and they gave me another look,” Patterson said.

Patterson then scored 17 points in the second half to prevent any chance of a comeback by Cal Poly.

“I was very impressed with him,” Mustangs coach Joe Callero said. “What I loved about him, he has got that NBA-prospect body, is that he also has NBA patience.”

Patterson’s patience and Pitt’s unselfishness led to his best single-game scoring performance. The Panthers finished with 19 assists on 27 made baskets.

“It just felt good that it was all in the flow of the offense,” Patterson said. “It shows how unselfish the team is.”

Four Panthers finished with at least three assists, led by four from point guard James Robinson. Three other Pitt players each posted two.

“It was guys hitting him on passes, guys hitting him on shots,” Dixon said. “He was catching and shooting, so there was some execution to get him those shots.”

Robinson found himself looking to Patterson during the game, knowing his teammate had his scoring touch going.

“You obviously want to look for everybody else on the court,” Robinson said. “As a point guard I’d be crazy if I didn’t look for him even more.”

Pitt’s execution, much-improved from the loss against Cincinnati, started with what Dixon said was an emphasis on patience as well as getting the ball in the hands of the Panthers premier playmaker.

“We’ve got to make the decision to get him more looks and get him more touches,” Dixon said. “We didn’t do that in the last game.”

That patience didn’t end with Patterson just shooting the ball, either.

“One time I passed it to him and I thought he was open and was trying to tell him to shoot,” Robinson said. “But he’s an unselfish player. He kept swinging the ball around and eventually he did get a shot off and it went in.”

Patterson got the ball Saturday, and the Panthers shot 46.6 percent from the field. Tuesday, Pitt made only 31.4 percent of its 35 field goal tries.

Individually, Patterson himself was the mark of efficiency as he scored his 30 points on 15 shots in 30 minutes.

“He’s efficient as any guy I’ve seen this year and he’s playing like it,” Dixon said.

As a result, the Panthers were able to effectively rebound from their first loss of the 2013-14 season.

 

“He stepped up and showed great leadership,” Callero said. “He played and looked like a senior that wants to help a team compete at the highest level.”

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Virginia Defeats Northern Iowa 57-43 

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – Carrying a two-game losing streak into their exam period, Virginia guard Joe Harris admitted that the week preceding Saturday’s game felt like it would never end.

For his coach Tony Bennett and the fans who witnessed the Cavaliers miss 14 of their first 16 shots against Northern Iowa (5-6) Saturday afternoon, there may have been some worry that the scoring would never start. Leaving a stable of sizeable frontcourt players on the bench much of the second half, though, Virginia (8-3) found success with a four-guard lineup that snapped the losing streak and pushed the Cavaliers to a 57-43 home win at John Paul Jones Arena.

Sophomore Justin Anderson helped Virginia shake off a lethargic start, finishing with a game-high 16 points, four rebounds and two blocked shots that spurred a pair of second-half runs. At 6-foot-6, the sophomore guard played power forward in a quicker Virginia lineup that countered a Northern Iowa attack that attempted to spread the court.

“Maybe your defense breaks down a little bit, but when you have Darion (Atkins) back there with five blocks, and you put Justin as a ‘4,’ that cleans up some mistakes you make. That’s huge,” Bennett said. “And when those turn into a transition bucket, that was very timely for us. Those were some timely, acrobatic blocks that we certainly capitalized on.”

The first of Anderson’s acrobatic blocks came at the 16:49 mark of the second half. Northern Iowa had just cut Virginia’s lead to 25-18 and were looking to draw closer when Malcolm Brogdon turned the ball over. Anderson swooped in, however, and swapped the layup attempt by Matt Bohannon, sparking a break that ended with a Harris 3-pointer on the other end.

The second Anderson block came with 3:42 left as he stalked Jeremy Morgan in the lane and leapt from behind to swat the ill-fated shot off the backboard. Then, leading the break, Anderson got the pass and drew a foul on a baseline drive that ended with Anderson converting one of two free throws to push Virginia’s lead to 49-37.

“Not that I don’t play with freedom in other lineups, but with four guards, it’s just four guards flying around all over the court,” Anderson said. “It’s hard for other teams to guard, and it’s fun when it’s working like that.”

Seth Tuttle led Northern Iowa with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Wes Washpun added nine points and five assists. The Panthers struggled, however, to mount a consistent scoring attack. Even with Virginia playing with a smaller lineup, Darion Atkins tied record for a Virginia player in John Paul Jones Arena with five blocked shots.

Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson said he felt fortunate to be down only five points at halftime, acknowledging that neither team had distinguished itself with its shooting up to that point.

“When they did throw it inside, our guys did a good job of doubling their bigs, and that put them a little off balance. I think it was a good adjustment on Tony’s part to go with four guards to be able to stretch the defense and make us defend a little differently.”

Both teams misfired early and often, but the Cavaliers, with its adjusted lineup, took control early in the second half. The Panthers had to call a timeout only2:20 into the second half after an Atkins dunk and a London Perrantes jumper pushed Virginia to a 25-16 lead.

For the Cavaliers, that helped erase the bad taste of a sloppy first half that featured eight turnovers, but only two in the second half.

The Cavaliers scored only one basket in the first 6:48 of the game and yet never trailed. As much as Virginia struggled to score, Northern Iowa matched their misses, failing to score until Tuttle converted on a drive at the 15:41 mark.

With 6:48 left in the half, Virginia was up 10-7, with both teams combining to shoot 7 of 39 for 17.9 percent up to that point. The Cavaliers mounted a short rally at the 6-minute mark, though, as Brogdon, Perrantes and Anderson hit consecutive 3-pointers to push Virginia’s lead to 19-9 with 4:43 remaining.

A 3-pointer from the wing by Anderson with 14:14 left in the second half pushed the Cavaliers to a 13-point lead. Northern Iowa got to within seven points on a Deon Mitchell drive with 7:01 remaining, but Virginia responded immediately with a Brogdon 3-pointer on the next possession.

“They were packing it in a little bit, but I thought we had good shots,” said Harris, who finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists for the Cavaliers. “We weren’t overly worried about not hitting our shots early because our defense was doing well enough to where it was keeping us in the game. We knew that offensively in the second half, things were going to start rolling as long as we didn’t doubt what we were doing.”

Northern Iowa was held to 31.7 percent shooting and hit only 10.5 percent (2 of 19) of its 3-pointers.

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VCU Swarms Virginia Tech 82-52 

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Melvin Johnson knew very early that his shooting stroke was exactly what it needed to be.

So did Virginia Tech, and even with that knowledge, there was nothing the Hokies could do about it.

Johnson scored 16 of his career-high 27 points during a 31-0 first-half run Saturday and VCU won the featured matchup of the Governor’s Holiday Hoops Classic 82-52 against Virginia Tech at the Richmond Coliseum. James Madison beat Hampton 55-49 in the earlier game.

“It was a surreal feeling,” Johnson said after making 8 of 11 3-point tries. “It just felt like everything I put up was going to go in.”

Johnson, whose previous career high was 16 points, outscored the Hokies for most of the first half.

“We lost him in the zone a little bit, and once he hit a couple, he was on fire,” Virginia Tech coach James Johnson said.

And unlike in previous games, when the Rams have slacked off after an impressive burst, coach Shaka Smart made sure there would be no repeat.

“He was like, ‘Look at them. Look at them. We got ’em. We got ’em. Don’t stop,'” Johnson said of Smart during a huddle. “We kept answering.”

The Rams (10-3) and Hokies hadn’t played since they were rivals in the Metro Conference in 1995, and the victory gave VCU a sweep of the state’s power conference programs for only the second time. They also did it in the 1987-88 season, and they won 59-56 at Virginia on Nov. 12.

Juvonte Reddic added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Rams, and Rob Brandenberg (5 points) became the 33rd player in school history to reach the 1,000-point scoring plateau. Treveon Graham (7 points) moved with a point of becoming the school’s 34th 1,000-point scorer.

Jarell Eddie and Ben Emelogu scored 12 to lead Virginia Tech (7-4), which had won four straight. The Hokies started fast, scoring the first six points, then got swarmed once the Rams started making baskets and setting up their 94-foot pressure. Virginia Tech finished with 27 turnovers that led to 42 points for VCU.

‘They sped us up. They did a very good job of speeding us up tonight,” Johnson said.

The Rams, in contrast, had only seven turnovers that led to five points for the Hokies.

The game, especially at the start, was reminiscent of the Rams’ 74-64 victory against George Mason in the 2012 Colonial Athletic Association tournament; a game the Rams led 32-4 after about nine minutes. But unlike that game, which became close after halftime, this one never did.

The Hokies, who trailed 42-22 at the break, did get within 15 early in the second half, but Brandenberg’s driving basket that gave him his milestone point was followed by a putback dunk by Reddic and the threat was repelled.

The Hokies started quickly, getting 3-pointers from Marshall Wood and Eddie to lead 6-0 after 2:17, but the Rams settled down and got into their trademark pressing game once Juvonte Reddic scored on a dunk.

The tide turned very quickly after C.J. Barksdale’s jumper gave the Hokies an 8-6 advantage.

Johnson gave the Rams the lead back with his second 3-pointer, and over the next 10 minutes, Johnson hit four more from long distance while the Hokies missed all eight of their shots. They also turned the ball over seven times against the Rams’ intense, 94-foot defense, and with the crowd decidedly in their favor and exhorting the city team on, VCU essentially put the game away before the halftime break.

Barksdale and Adam Smith, who both arrived hobbled for the Hokies, did not play in the second half.

————

Wake Forest Beats UNC-Greensboro 59-51  

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – Wake Forest didn’t have one of its best offensive games of the season Saturday against UNC Greensboro.

Defensively, it was a different story for the Demon Deacons, who head into their Christmas break riding a four-game winning streak after a 59-51 victory over the Spartans.

Devin Thomas scored 12 points and pulled down 13 rebounds, and Wake Forest came up with several key stops to weather a second-half rally by UNC Greensboro.

Tyler Cavanaugh added 12 points and Codi Miller-McIntyre scored all of his 11 points in the second half for the Demon Deacons (10-2), who overcame a slow start to lead by as many as 12 points in the first half.

“We were fortunate to win (because) we struggled offensively,” Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “Give UNCG a lot of credit for that. Fortunately, we defended well enough to keep us on top for most of the game. It’s our defense that really won us this basketball game.”

While the Demon Deacons shot 44.9 percent (22 of 49) from the field, they only made 2 of 14 3-pointers (14.3 percent) and 13 of 30 free throws (43.3 percent) – far off Wake Forest’s season percentages of 35.3 and 64.7 percent, respectively.

The Demon Deacons also turned the ball over 14 times, and barely out-rebounded the Spartans (6-7) 41-40 – also far off Wake Forest’s season rebounding margin average of plus-10, ranked 12th nationally entering Saturday’s game.

“We just didn’t play well today,” Thomas said. “It’s fair to assume that we were looking forward to Christmas … but they played hard, and we really didn’t run our offense. A win’s a win, but it’s not a win the way that we want to win.

“We didn’t take care of the ball. We weren’t moving the ball well, not screening, not coming off our cuts hard, we didn’t shoot well, we didn’t make free throws well – everything we need to do to be successful on offense.”

It was the Demon Deacons’ defense that proved the difference. In addition to holding UNC Greensboro to 25.8 percent from the field (8 of 31) in the first half and 31.7 percent (19 of 60) for the game – its worst shooting game of the season – Wake Forest also held the Spartans to 1 of 15 on 3-pointers.

“We really played well defensively; unfortunately, it didn’t go our way on the offensive end,” UNC Greensboro head coach Wes Miller said. “We were a couple of shots away from not just being in the game, but coming away from here with a win.”

Behind Kyle Cain (16 points and 14 rebounds) and Kayel Locke (14 points), the Spartans (6-7) rallied from a 29-22 halftime deficit to cut the Demon Deacons’ lead to 44-42 on a Locke jumper with 6:46 remaining.

That’s when Wake Forest’s defense stepped up, and so did Miller-McIntyre.

In a 3-minute span, Miller-McIntyre converted a UNC Greensboro turnover into a layup, scored on a fast-break layup following a steal, scored again on the fast break off another steal, then came up with a steal that set up a pair of Travis McKie free throws during an 11-4 run.

Suddenly, the Demon Deacons’ two-point lead was now 55-46 with 2:15 remaining. The Spartans could pull no closer than seven points the rest of the way.

“We were really locked in,” on defense, Miller-McIntyre said. “That’s probably the first time this season that the whole team has been that locked in on defense.”

However, both teams struggled in the opening minutes of the first half, with Wake Forest turning the ball over on its first two possessions and missing its first four shots. UNC Greensboro wasn’t much better, going 0 for 6 from the field in the first four minutes.

Yet the Spartans got hot right after that, with Cain dropping in a jumper and layup, followed by Locke making two free throws and a layup during an 8-2 run that put UNC Greensboro ahead 9-6 with 12:19 remaining.

The Demon Deacons responded with their own run, outscoring the Spartans 21-6 over the next 9 ½ minutes to take control.

Thomas scored seven straight points during the run, including a short jumper with 8:38 left to put Wake Forest ahead. Cavanaugh made back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Demon Deacons’ lead into double figures, and McKie followed up a missed free throw to give them a 27-15 lead with 2:27 left, their biggest of the half.

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