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Jerome leads No. 1 Virginia past Georgia Tech, 65-54

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Top-ranked Virginia accomplished its first goal of the season. The next ones on the list will only get more difficult.

Ty Jerome scored 18 points and the Cavaliers held off depleted Georgia Tech 65-54 on Wednesday night, clinching at least a share of the regular season title and the top seed next month in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

“It’s definitely a good step in the right direction for what we want to do this year,” Jerome said after the team’s third regular-season title in the past five years. “We just can’t get complacent because we have so much more to go.”

The Cavaliers (25-2, 14-1), who also got nine points each from De’Andre Hunter and Mamadi Diakite, were sluggish playing for the first time in eight days. They led just 31-30 at halftime and didn’t open a double-digit lead until just 5:14 remained.

“We kind of had to earn it and outlast them,” coach Tony Bennett said.

Jerome scored 15 of his points in the second half, hitting three of his four 3-pointers after the intermission.

“(He) hit some great shots and some tough shots,” Yellow Jackets coach Josh Pastner said.

Ben Lammers scored 22 points to lead the Yellow Jackets (11-17, 4-11), who lost their sixth in a row and 10th in the last 11 games.

“He told me before the game it’s the best he’s felt since the UCLA game,” Pastner said. The UCLA game was played Nov. 10.

Tadric Jackson added 15 but only three other players scored for the visitors.

Still, Virginia led just 49-45 before Devon Hall hit a pair of free throws and Jerome followed with a 3-pointer, starting an 11-4 b burst that ended on a dunk by Diakite that gave them a 60-49 advantage with 5:15 to play. Their largest lead all night was 12.

The regular-season title, which with be the Cavaliers alone with one more victory in their last three regular-season games, is the eighth in Virginia’s history, but Bennett doesn’t want his team to coast into the tournament.

“Not a whole lot else matters right now except us preparing well, playing to win every time we step foot on the floor and then trying to improve and see what we can learn,” he said.

The ACC Tournament is March 8-10 at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.


Kyle Guy, who got engaged on Sunday, finished with eight points, all in the first nine minutes, for the Cavaliers.

“I think he was 100 percent engaged,” Bennett said of the Cavaliers’ scoring leader. “Locked and loaded.”


Virginia’s big men — center Jack Salt and forwards Isaiah Wilkins and Diakite — combined for 22 points and 13 rebounds. Salt had all six of his in the first six minutes, and Diakite had his nine all in the second half when he gave the Cavaliers a much-needed energy boost.

“I thought he played really well,” Pastner said.

Added Wilkins: “I thought he gave us a big lift on both ends of the floor.”


Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets are up against it, having lost their top two freshmen for the rest of the year with injuries, including No. 2 scorer Jose Alvarado (12.1 ppg), but Lammers and Jackson kept them in the game. Sophomore Josh Okogie started the game 50 shy of 1,000 for his career, but missed 7 of 10 shots and scored just seven points. Reinforcements will be appreciated.

Virginia: The Cavaliers were not sharp at either end in their first game in eight days. It could be that their flatness was in part because, after facing the struggling Yellow Jackets, they are to face a team in even worse shape, Pittsburgh.


The Yellow Jackets face another ranked team on the road, playing at No. 15 Clemson on Saturday.

Virginia goes on the road to face Pittsburgh, which entered the night winless in league play.

Wake Forest guard Keyshawn Woods to transfer or go pro after graduation

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Wake Forest will be down a key player next season as the school announced that guard Keyshawn Woods will either transfer or go pro after graduation.

The 6-foot-3 Woods was the team’s second-leading scorer this season as he put up 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Woods shot 43 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point range for the 2017-18 campaign.

Also a key member of last season’s NCAA tournament team for the Demon Deacons, Woods transferred to Wake Forest after spending his first season at Charlotte.

“I appreciate the opportunity that Coach Manning gave me to be a part of this program and to graduate from this great university,” said Woods in the release. “I am proud that I was able to help the coaches change the culture of the program and build a foundation for the future.”

The loss of Woods won’t be easy for Wake Forest, but the team is scheduled to return some talented guards like Bryant Crawford and Brandon Childress next season. Incoming freshmen like Jaime Lewis and Sharone Wright Jr. are also signed to add to the perimeter depth.

David Padgett not retained as Louisville coach

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Louisville announced on Wednesday afternoon that interim head coach David Padgett would not be retained.

Padgett, who is 32 years old, stepped in and took the program over in the wake of a scandal that cost Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino his job.

“We all owe a great debt of gratitude to David for his leadership and poise this season,” said U of L Interim Director of Athletics Vince Tyra. “He took over during incredible circumstances, has handled himself respectfully throughout the season and I believe he has a bright future in coaching. We expect to determine a new head coach in a short period to build upon the great basketball tradition of this university.”

Pitino was fired because an FBI complaint contained an allegation that he and his staff had arranged for a $100,000 payment to be funneled to Brian Bowen from Adidas.

In his one season with the Cardinals, Padgett went 22-14 and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.

Louisville will now conduct a search for their next head coach, and current Xavier coach Chris Mack has long been considered the favorite to take that job.

Kansas State’s injured star hoping to play Thursday

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One of the most surprising parts about Kansas State’s run to the Sweet 16 is that they have done it without the services of their leading scorer, Dean Wade.

Wade injured his foot prior to the Big 12 tournament loss to Kansas. He did not play in that game or in either of Kansas State’s first two tournament games, but it is looking more and more like he’ll be on the floor on Thursday night when they play Kentucky.

“I don’t play percentages very well, but I’m feeling good,” Wade said, via SEC Country. “I’m very positive about it. It’s getting better every day and today I felt great out there, doing a little more than usual. It felt good.”

Wade averaged 16.5 points per game, but the big question is going to be whether or not he is actually healthy when he takes the court. Just because he’s on the floor doesn’t mean he’s at 100 percent.

“Really just trying to get it out of my mind that it’s not hurt,” Wade said. “Just more of a mental thing, just getting out there and running around. I think I got moved past that and it’s feeling better.”

Arizona’s Sean Miller: ‘I am not a candidate’ at Pitt

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With speculation mounting about who Pitt will hire to replace Kevin Stallings as their new head coach, current Arizona head coach Sean Miller released a statement saying that he is not in the running to fill the opening.

“I am not a candidate for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball head coaching vacancy. I wish them well in their search for a new coach,” the statement read.

Miller is a native of Pittsburgh and an alumni of the school — he’s the guy that had the assist on Jerome Lane’s famous dunk — and with the issues that are currently swirling around him and the Arizona program, there was speculation that he was looking for an escape plan.

Maybe he wasn’t.

Maybe he was and the Pitt administration decided they couldn’t risk hiring someone who had an assistant coach arrested in the FBI’s sweep of college basketball and who himself may be on wiretaps talking about who knows what. Releasing this statement would then be a way for him to save face and say he was never interested.

And then maybe there’s option No. 3: Pitt has won the Dan Hurley sweepstakes.

As it stands, both the Panthers and UConn are in the process of chasing after the Rhode Island head coach, and it’s not uncommon in coaching searches for a coach to announce that he is not a candidate for the job after the job decides they want someone else. Call it a professional courtesy.

But that’s neither here nor there.

What we do know now is that Sean Miller will not be the next head coach at Pitt.

Report: Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson suffers another fracture in foot

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Bonzie Colson rushed back from a broken foot to try and help his Notre Dame team get into the NCAA tournament this season.

They were bumped out of the field when Davidson upset Rhode Island and earned the Atlantic 10’s third bid to the league tournament. The Fighting Irish were NIT bound, and in their second round loss to Penn State late last week, Colson reinjured the left foot that held him out of action for eight weeks.

On Wednesday, Yahoo reported that Colson suffered another fracture in the foot.

“I’m sitting there and he’s limping off and I’m going, ‘You gotta be kidding me,’” coach Mike Brey said after the game. “Everything we’ve been through? I thought we were out of the woods with him.”

There was a poignant moment at the end of the game.

Colson’s injury came during the third quarter. He returned to the bench at Purcell Pavilion with ice on his foot after going into the locker room. With 30 seconds left and a loss imminent, Colson walked right past Mike Brey, said “I’m going in”, and finished his college career on the court.

Colson is a potential second round pick. He was an all-american last year and a preseason selection this year. He was averaging 19.7 points, 10.2 boards and 2.2 blocks when he was injured.