Tony Bennett

Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon (15) gives a high-five to guard Marial Shayok (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Miami in the Atlantic Coast Conference  men'stournament, Friday, March 11, 2016, in Washington. Virginia defeated Miami 73-68. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
AP Photo/Steve Helber

No. 4 Virginia beats No. 11 Miami to reach ACC title game

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WASHINGTON (AP) Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Malcolm Brogdon scored 24 points and No. 4 Virginia beat 11th-ranked Miami 73-68 Friday night to set up a showdown with North Carolina in the conference title game.

Virginia (26-6) and No. 7 UNC could each become NCAA Tournament No. 1 seeds after impressive showings this week. Against Miami (25-7), the Cavaliers led wire-to-wire to the delight of the crowd that made Verizon Center feel like a home game.

Ja’Quan Newton had 19 points off the bench to lead Miami.

Beginning with Brogdon’s 3-pointer 48 seconds in, Virginia led the entire first half. The Cavaliers went up by as many as 11 as eight different players scored but watched as Miami went on a 6-0 run to end the half and cut the margin to five.

Facing the same kind of hostile environment as Thursday night against Virginia Tech, Miami cut it as close as three points. A series of turnovers stunted the comeback bid, and Brogdon went to work scoring and playmaking.

With help from Marial Shayok (10 points) and London Perrantes (11 points), Virginia pulled away to lead by 13 with 3:10 left. The Hurricanes must now turn their attention to the NCAA Tournament, where they’re expected to be a high seed.

UNC routed Notre Dame Friday to make it to the title game. Virginia won the teams’ only meeting Feb. 27 in Charlottesville. The game features the top two seeds after the top four reached the semifinals.

“The ACC is a great conference,” UNC forward Justin Jackson said. “So at the end of the day, that’s what you expect in the championship game: to have two really good teams.”

TIP-INS

Miami: Ivan Cruz Uceda did not play in the quarterfinal victory because of Virginia Tech’s speed, according to coach Jim Larranaga, who said the big forward would be a “major player” against Virginia. Cruz Uceda scored all eight of his points in the first half. … Senior guard Sheldon McClellan fouled out with 46.2 seconds left. He finished with 15 points on 5 of 11 shooting.

Virginia: Brogdon went 10 of 11 from the free throw line. … Virginia reached the ACC final for the sixth time in school history. … Last won the conference tournament in 2014. … The last time Virginia played in a game where each team shot over 50 percent was Dec. 7, 2013, against Green Bay.

UP NEXT

Virginiai: Faces seventh-ranked North Carolina for the conference title Saturday.

Miami: NCAA Tournament.

No. 4 Virginia clamps down on No. 11 Louisville

Virginia guard London Perrantes, left, steals the ball from Louisville center Chinanu Onuaku, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, March 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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In boxing there’s the old adage of “styles make fights,” with those styles either producing instant classics or absolute mismatches. When it comes to No. 4 Virginia and No. 11 Louisville this season, it was clear in their two meetings that the Cavaliers were a bad matchup for the Cardinals. Saturday night Tony Bennett’s team completed a sweep of the season series with a 68-46 win in Charlottesville, and it was Virginia’s seniors who led the way.

Malcolm Brogdon, who is seen by many as the favorite to earn ACC Player of the Year honors next week, scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half and Anthony Gill added 15 points and four rebounds. But the senior star on this night was none other than Mike Tobey, who scored 15 points and corralled a staggering 20 rebounds on the night.

Tobey became the first Virginia player since Travis Watson in 2003 to grab at least 20 boards in a game, and his total was just eight fewer than Louisville tallied as a team. The rebounding number was just one aspect of this beating, a game in which Virginia controlled the action in all areas. Virginia committed 13 turnovers but shot 51.3 percent from the field, supplementing their scoring from the field with a 23-for-30 night from the foul line.

As for the defense, that was the biggest reason why Virginia is a bad matchup for Louisville. The Cavaliers limited the Cardinals to 27.6 percent shooting from the field, with Louisville getting just 14 attempts from the foul line (making ten). Gill’s ability as a defender in ball screens is well-known by this point, but he wasn’t the only Virginia big man who performed well.

Louisville’s guards were unable to turn the corner, and on many occasions the ball stayed on one side of the floor as a result. Quality shots were tough to come by, as one would expect when playing against Virginia’s pack line defense, and Louisville struggled mightily. In the first meeting, the Cardinals shot 32.7 percent from the field and had many of the same issues. Much was made of Virginia’s defense earlier this season and the underrated impact of Darion Atkins’ departure, and there was some work to be done when it came to how big men other than Gill defended in ball screen actions.

There were no such issues Saturday night, and as a result the Cavaliers will be the two-seed at next week’s ACC tournament. And if they can continue to defend at this level, Tony Bennett’s team will have a good shot at winning their second ACC tournament in the last three years.

Gill’s 16, ‘D’ lead No. 7 Virginia past Virginia Tech, 67-49

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Anthony Gill scored 16 points and No. 7 Virginia turned the tables on state rival Virginia Tech with a 67-49 victory Tuesday night, the Cavaliers’ seventh straight.

Isaiah Wilkins added a career-best 14 points and Malcolm Brogdon had 12 for the Cavaliers (20-4, 9-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). Virginia avenged a 70-68 loss to the Hokies in Blacksburg on Jan. 4 in what rates as their worst performance of the season, and extended their winning streak at John Paul Jones Arena to 17 games.

Freshman Justin Robinson scored 16 points and classmate Chris Clarke had 11 in his first action for the Hokies (13-12, 5-7) since breaking his right foot in late December. Virginia Tech’s top two scorers, Zach LeDay (16.0 ppg) and Seth Allen (14.5), were limited to seven and six points, respectively, in part because of foul trouble.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said his team wasn’t ready to play when it lost to the Hokies earlier, but they have been surging of late and were focused from the outset. They were credited with assists and 14 of their first 15 baskets and forced 10 turnovers in the first half; they forced just eight in the last meeting of the teams.

For most of the game, the Hokies had more turnovers than field goals.

The Cavaliers led 32-20 at halftime and extended their advantage to 47-29 on a three-point play by Mike Tobey with 12:11 remaining. It capped an 11-4 run for Virginia, during which LeDay was whistled for his fourth foul. On Virginia’s next trip down court, it got the ball to Gill inside and LeDay basically backed off and let him score, quickly earning a spot on the bench.

The Cavaliers’ lead never dipped into single digits again.

The Hokies had just eight turnovers and outscored Virginia 26-6 off turnovers in their first meeting. This time, Virginia Tech had 10 turnovers by halftime and the Cavaliers had already turned them into 15 points. Virginia Tech finished with 16 field goals and 15 turnovers.

Already leading 9-6, Virginia got scoring from eight players in a 23-8 run that spanned about 8 1/2 minutes.

Gill started it with a dunk, Brogdon hit a 3-pointer, London Perrantes had a four-point play and Wilkins finished it with two free throws, giving the Cavaliers a 32-14 lead with 2:06 left in the half. They didn’t score again, and the Hokies closed within 32-20 by halftime.

TIP-INS

Virginia Tech: The Hokies shot 57.1 percent (15 of 26) from the field in the second half of their 70-68 victory against Virginia on Jan. 4. … Virginia Tech’s starting five totaled four points in the first half.

Virginia: The Cavaliers have held four consecutive opponents to 50 points or fewer.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech plays at No. 12 Miami next Wednesday.

Virginia plays at Duke on Saturday.

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The AP’s college basketball page: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org

No. 9 Virginia pulls away from Pitt 64-50

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PITTSBURGH (AP) Malcolm Brogdon scored 21 points and No. 9 Virginia pulled away from Pittsburgh in the second half of a 64-50 victory on Saturday.

London Perrantes added 14 for the Cavaliers (19-4, 8-3 ACC), who have won six straight and remain unbeaten (4-0) against the Panthers since Pitt moved to the ACC in 2013. Virginia took control after the Panthers tied it early in the second half, knocking down three straight 3-pointers during a game-turning 12-0 run.

Jamel Artis led Pitt (17-5, 6-4) with 17 points and Michael Young had 12 points and 10 rebounds but the Panthers again struggled to keep up with a quality opponent. All five of Pitt’s losses have come by at least 13 points.

Virginia outscored the Panthers 28-14 in the paint and converted 11 Pitt turnovers into 20 points the other way.

The Cavaliers have hit their stride following a bumpy stretch in early January that included consecutive losses to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. They’ve done it by getting back to what they do well -controlling the pace and hitting open shots.

It’s a formula that Pitt used for years to become a consistent contender in the Big East, one they’ve largely abandoned since joining the ACC. The Panthers have been steady if unspectacular this winter, with coach Jamie Dixon wondered how they’d won six of their first nine games in the league despite a notable lack of size in the middle and a toughness deficit. He addressed it by burying the whistle in practice and challenging his players to man up.

Needing a quality win to bolster an otherwise nondescript resume, Pitt couldn’t quite handle the Cavaliers.

Brogdon went off early, scoring 14 points in the first 20 minutes during a taut and entertaining back-and-forth with Young and Artis.

When Sheldon Jeter’s putback knotted the game at 31 a minute into the second half, the raucous black-clad Pitt student section came to life.

Just as abruptly, the Cavaliers took over. Brogdon hit a 3-pointer and Devon Hall followed with one of his own at the end of a possession that perfectly encapsulated what Virginia does so well. Perrantes had the ball on the wing in transition and could have taken a wide open 3-pointer. Instead, the ACC’s leading 3-point shooter pulled the ball down and the Cavaliers ran their offense to get Hall a wide-open 23-footer that he calmly drilled. Perrantes followed with a 3 of his own on Virginia’s next trip and when Hall hit an acrobatic lay-up while getting fouled, the ensuing free throw put Virginia up 43-31.

Pitt never got closer than nine the rest of the way as the Cavaliers cruised late in the game.

TIP-INS

Virginia: The Cavaliers shot 48 percent (24 of 50) from the floor and 9 of 16 from 3-point range. … Virginia has outscored opponents in 20 of its 23 games.

Pitt: The Panthers shot 39 percent (18 of 41) and made just 2 of 13 3-pointers. … Senior point guard James Robinson was held scoreless on 0 for 7 shooting.

UP NEXT:

Virginia: Hosts Virginia Tech on Tuesday

Pitt: Travels to No. 2 North Carolina on Tuesday.

No. 13 Virginia’s road struggles continue in loss at Florida State

Virginia head coach Tony Bennett gets his team's attention in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
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No. 13 Virginia has now played three road games in ACC play. Their record in those games: 0-3, with the most recent loss coming in Tallahassee Sunday night by the final score of 69-62.

Of course winning on the road is tough, especially in a league as deep as the ACC. But it’s been a familiar theme for the Cavaliers this season, and Sunday’s game turned on two important developments without just over four minutes of game time of each other.

The first play was Florida State guard Malik Beasley’s three-pointer at the end of the first half. Prior to that shot the freshman, who finished with 17 points, had yet to score a point in the game. The play served as a spark for Beasley, who’s scored in double figures in every game he’s played in this season. From that point on Beasley was able to get better looks, as he scored 14 second-half points and did not miss a shot from the field (4-for-4) or from the foul line (4-for-4) in the second stanza.

That seemed to spark Florida State as a whole, as they shot 63.2 percent from the field and avraged 1.33 points per possession. A key reason for that was the second major turning point in the game, as Anthony Gill headed to the bench with 15:47 remaining after picking up his third foul.

Virginia’s still a good defensive team by “normal” standards, but as it’s been discussed many times before they have yet to find a front court player capable of filling the role of last year’s ACC Defensive Player of the Year Darion Atkins. In 2014-15 Gill was effectively the “Robin” to Atkins’ “Batman” in the Virginia front court defensively, and that partnership was one of the reasons why they finished the season ranked tops in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers.

With Atkins gone Gill’s become Batman, but no Robin has emerged for Tony Bennett. Hence the rotating of players such as Jack Salt (five starts), Mike Tobey (six starts) and Isaiah Wilkins (five starts) into the starting role, but none have managed to truly make that spot theirs from a defensive standpoint. That impacts pick and roll coverages, an area in which Atkins was elite a season ago, not only for the players in the action but those in weak side positions as well.

But that hasn’t been the only issue for Virginia, which has also made a habit of going cold offensively this season. The Cavaliers experienced two different stretches in the second half of three-plus minutes without a point, with Florida State outscoring them 17-0 during those points in the action. Virginia shot 35.7 percent from the field in the second half, and with the lack of consistency beyond Gill, London Perrantes and Malcolm Brogdon they can ill-afford an off night from one of their big three.

Brogdon scored ten points on 4-for-17 shooting and Perrantes needed 13 shots (making four) to score his 19 points. It’s become quite clear that Virginia will have a tougher time pulling out wins when that happens this season than they did in each of the last two seasons.

The good news for Virginia is that they’ve yet to play North Carolina, which is now three games ahead of the Cavaliers in the loss column, so there’s a direct opportunity to gain ground down the line (February 27 to be exact). But given the offensive lulls and a defense that, while good, isn’t at the level it reached in each of the last two seasons, their chances of winning a third straight ACC regular season crown are extremely slim at this point.

Second-half cold spell dooms No. 4 Virginia at Georgia Tech

Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett watches from the sideline in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia Tech, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Blacksburg, Va. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL STATIONS OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; LOCAL PRINT OUT (SALEM TIMES REGISTER; FINCASTLE HERALD; CHRISTIANSBURG NEWS MESSENGER; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL; MANDATORY CREDIT
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Five days after falling at Virginia Tech No. 4 Virginia lost its second consecutive road game Saturday afternoon, as a second-half cold spell proved to be their undoing.

After erasing an 11-point deficit Tony Bennett’s team went more than four minutes without scoring, and during that period Georgia Tech ripped off an 11-0 run to establish the separation they needed to pull off the upset. Georgia Tech won by the final score of 68-64, and while that 11-0 stretch stands out Virginia had issues on the offensive end of the floor throughout the game.

The Cavaliers shot just 40.4 percent from the field, and while they did manage to score 38 points in the paint Virginia had trouble finding quality looks offensively. Malcolm Brogdon scored 19 points but did so on 8-for-20 shooting, and he combined with London Perrantes to shoot 2-for-13 from beyond the arc. With the supporting cast having some issues with consistency, off days from Brogdon, Perrantes and/or Anthony Gill hurt Virginia more than they would in previous years.

Defensively Virginia is still looking for another forward to emerge alongside Gill, with the role played by departed ACC Defensive Player of the Year Darion Atkins yet to be filled. Mike Tobey grabbed a team-high seven rebounds but he isn’t the defender that Atkins was, especially when it comes to ball-screen situations.

Georgia Tech’s Nick Jacobs and Quinton Stephens were able to take advantage of this, scoring 16 points apiece and Stephens hitting two critical three-pointers during the 11-0 run that shifted the game for good. Add in James White grabbing five of Georgia Tech’s 11 offensive rebounds, and the Yellow Jacket front court outplayed their opponents Saturday afternoon.

The good news for Virginia is that three of their next four games are in Charlottesville, beginning with No. 13 Miami Tuesday night. But given the way the Hurricanes like to use ball screens in their offensive system, that matchup is a concerning one. Already two games behind the leaders in the ACC in the loss column, that contest sets up as one of high importance if Virginia is to entertain thoughts of a third straight ACC regular season title.