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Perrantes leads No. 23 Virginia past Pitt, 67-42

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Virginia coach Tony Bennett waited after No. 23 Virginia’s 67-42 victory against Pittsburgh was over, and then waited again until London Perrantes had finished a postgame television interview before putting his arm around the point guard and walking off the court.

It was what Bennett’s father, Dick, did with him after his last college game, and seemed a fitting way to honor his lone senior.

“We’ve had so many special players, but he’s been the catalyst for what’s happened,” Bennett said of the guard from Los Angeles, who has started more games than anyone in Cavaliers history and helped transform the program into an annual national contender.

“That brought me great joy just to be able to do that,” Bennett said.

Perrantes made his Senior Day special, too, by scoring 22 points and helping to foil the Panthers’ defensive game plan. He made four of Virginia’s 11 3-pointers, including two in succession late in the game before Bennett removed him to a standing ovation with 1:57 to play.

“Just knowing it’s not over is huge,” Perrantes said, “as long as I’ve got some more games to play with the team and coaching staff.”

Freshman Ty Jerome, the likely replacement as Virginia’s starting point guard next season, added three 3-pointers and 13 points as the Cavaliers (21-9, 11-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their third straight. They also avenged an 88-76 loss in overtime at Pittsburgh in January.

“Our No. 1 thing we talked about was taking away 3s,” first-year coach Kevin Stallings said after his team’s fourth consecutive loss. “They feed off of them, and we were not able to do that, obviously.”

When he was pulled from the game, Perrantes hugged his apprentice at midcourt before departing.

“I said, `It’s not yours yet. It’s not your program yet. I’ve still got some games left to play,”‘ Perrantes said he told Jerome.

Jerome has said repeatedly that he’s siphoned as much knowledge from Perrantes as he could.

“I only got to spend this year with him, but he’s been phenomenal on and off the court, especially with me and the relationship we’ve built in such a short amount of time,” Jerome said. “I’m going to miss him, but we still have more basketball to play.”

The Panthers, meanwhile, might not have much more to play this year.

Michael Young scored 14 points to lead Pittsburgh (15-16, 4-14), but the Panthers played the first 10 minutes without Young or Jamel Artis after both were late for a team function. When the team’s top two scorers finally checked in with 9:54 left in the half, Virginia led 19-2.

“We’re trying to establish a culture here of doing the right thing, being accountable and responsible,” Stallings said.

Pittsburgh missed 13 of its first 14 field goal attempts. It was the Panthers’ 12th consecutive road loss against a ranked opponent.

BIG PICTURE

Pittsburgh: The Panthers head into the ACC Tournament having lost four in a row, and of greater concern to Stallings might be the idea that Young (20.1 ppg) and Artis (18.9 ppg) have been their dominant offensive weapons, and both are seniors.

Virginia: The Cavaliers appear to have their swagger back, not only on defense, where they lead the nation in scoring defense, but on offense. Perrantes has emerged from a shooting drought and Jerome and fellow freshman Kyle Guy have played, and scored, more of late.

HE SAID IT

“I don’t think anybody wants to play us right now.” – Perrantes.

NUMBERS GAME

Virginia entered the game leading the nation in scoring defense (55.3 ppg), and during its winning streak, has held North Carolina State (55), No. 5 North Carolina (43) and Pittsburgh (42) to an average of 46.7 points. … The Cavaliers forced 14 turnovers and outscored the Panthers 27-0 off takeaways. Virginia turned it over just seven times. … The Cavaliers finished 11 for 22 on 3-pointers. Pitt was 4 for 20.

UP NEXT

Both teams will play next in the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn, New York.

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org

Follow Hank on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/hankkurzjr

No. 18 Virginia snaps 4-game skid, beats NC State 70-55

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Freshman Kyle Guy scored 19 points to help No. 18 Virginia snap out of an offensive funk to beat North Carolina State 70-55 on Saturday, ending a four-game skid.

Devon Hall added 18 points for the Cavaliers (19-9, 9-7 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 49 percent and made 11 of 16 3-pointers – a huge change from missing shot after shot during three particularly ugly offensive performances coming in.

It was Virginia’s longest losing streak since losing nine straight during coach Tony Bennett’s first season in 2009-10. But the Cavaliers led 35-21 by halftime, pushed that to 19 early after halftime and led by double figures nearly the entire second half.

The Wolfpack (15-15, 4-13) made a last-stand run to get within 59-51, only to see London Perrantes bury a 3-pointer with 5:04 left then Hall put back his own miss to push the margin back to 13.

N.C. State got no closer than 10 again in the final regular-season home game for coach Mark Gottfried. The school announced earlier this month that he won’t return next year after a once-promising season completely unraveled.

Freshman Dennis Smith Jr. scored 13 points but made just 4 of 14 shots for N.C. State, which shot 32 percent and made 7 of 27 3s (26 percent).

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: Virginia got its shot back, for a game at least. The Cavaliers had shot just 32 percent in its last three games while making 10 of 52 3-pointers (19 percent). They need this performance badly.

N.C. State: N.C. State finished its home regular-season schedule at 2-7 in ACC games, just one of many reasons for the Wolfpack’s disappointing season that ultimately cost Gottfried his job.

UP NEXT

Virginia: The Cavaliers get a quick turnaround to host No. 8 North Carolina on Monday.

N.C. State: N.C. State plays its regular-season finale Wednesday at Clemson.

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

No. 18 Virginia collapses in stunning overtime loss to Miami

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Freshman Bruce Brown knocked down the go-ahead three-pointer with under 30 seconds left on Monday night as Miami captured a key ACC road win over N0. 18 Virginia with a 54-48 overtime win.

Miami used a 9-2 run in the final minutes of regulation to force overtime as they looked dead for most of the game on offense. The Hurricanes only managed to shoot 36 percent from the field and 21 percent from three-point range but they were bailed out by going 20-for-22 from the free-throw line. Brown only had two field goals but finished with a team-high 14 points while Kamari Murphy (10 points, nine rebounds), Dejan Vasiljevic (10 points) and Davon Reed (nine points) also provided offense.

The Hurricanes (19-8, 9-6) entered this game having only two top-50 wins this season so this is a huge NCAA tournament booster for them as it should give Miami a lot more confidence heading into the home stretch. Miami still has a tough schedule the last weeks of the regular season but it also gives them more opportunities to get quality wins and grab a better seed.

For Miami to also win this one — and go 3-0 — without starting point guard Ja’Quan Newton during his suspension is also a testament to how much this team has improved. Newton’s offense should help the Hurricanes quite a bit and they get another test against Duke on Saturday.

Virginia (18-9, 8-7) lost for the fourth consecutive game as they continue a recent freefall that has exposed its offensive issues. For a team that has competed for the ACC regular season title lately, they are now just one game over .500 in the ACC entering the final stretch of the regular season.

Senior point guard London Perrantes (2-for-15, four points) struggled to find his shot on Monday as Devon Hall led Virginia’s offense with 15 points. For awhile it looked like Virginia would be able to win just by holding Miami in the 30s but the Hurricanes generated enough late offense to creep back in.

On a night when Malcolm Brogdon was in the house to get his number retired, this Virginia team once again showed how badly they miss having a go-to scorer like him from last season. They don’t have a closer, and although Perrantes has hit some big shots, he needs help setting them up if he gets crowded by a defender.

This year’s Virginia team can sometimes still manage wins just by slowing things down and trying to get stops. That means they are also susceptible to getting run out of the gym against good offensive teams because this team really struggles to put up points right now. It also means they have a difficult time closing teams out as we saw on Monday night with Miami’s late comeback.

ACC teams might be more familiar with Virginia’s scheme and personnel than normal programs and it will be interesting to see how the Cavaliers look during the quick turnaround of the NCAA tournament.

Big second half run leads No. 12 Virginia past No. 4 Louisville

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Virginia used a big second-half run to secure a big home win in the ACC as they beat depleted No. 4 Louisville 71-55 on Monday night. The Cavaliers found themselves down at the half only to start the second half on a monster 22-4 run.

Playing without Deng Adel and Mangok Mathiang (suspended for violating team curfew), the Cardinals didn’t have the firepower to stay with the Cavaliers once Virginia went on its big run. The No. 12 Cavaliers broke a three-way tie for second place in the ACC with the win as they try to keep pace with North Carolina.

London Perrantes led Virginia with 18 points while Isaiah Wilkins had 13 points and 11 rebounds as Virginia had a balanced offensive attack that outscored Louisville 39-21 in the second half.

Here are two takeaways from this one.

1. Virginia has Louisville’s number (and it will help the ‘Hoos NCAA tournament seed)

The Cavaliers (18-5, 8-3) just seem to have the Cardinals figured out. With four consecutive wins over Louisville and five wins over the last six games, Rick Pitino’s teams have struggled against Virginia since joining the ACC.

Most importantly for Virginia, two wins over Louisville this season gives Virginia a nice footnote for its NCAA tournament profile. Virginia’s non-conference wins ended up being worse than originally thought (wins over Iowa, Providence, Ohio State and Cal aren’t all that helpful) but beating the Cardinals means that Virginia might get two top-10 wins from one opponent.

With Virginia dropping a road game at Syracuse over the weekend, this win should elevate the Cavaliers back up to a potential top-three seed as they continue to try to stay with the ACC’s elite. If Virginia can keep winning games like this they’ll have a chance to climb even higher in tournament seeding since so many top-25 teams have lost games lately.

Virginia has a tough schedule to conquer the rest of the regular season but it also offers this team the chance to stockpile some more quality wins.

2. Being shorthanded finally caught up to Louisville but they’ll be near full strength soon enough

Louisville (19-5, 7-4) is already accustomed to playing without its full lineup as point guard Quentin Snider and reserve guard Tony Hicks have missed recent time due to injury. But two suspensions made matters even worse for Louisville with the loss of Adel and Mathiang on Monday.

With those two in the lineup, Louisville might have tried to press Virginia for the entire game — using its length, athleticism and depth to try to wear down the ‘Hoos and change what they’ve been doing in the past.

As I alluded to above, Louisville has struggled to figure out Virginia in ACC play the last few years so they really could have used those Adel and Mathiang in a game like this. It did give a chance for others to shine, as freshman V.J. King scored a career-high 24 points, but the Cardinals were also missing the depth that helps make them so effective.

With only King and sophomore guard Donovan Mitchell (16 points) scoring at all, Louisville’s offense really struggled, especially in the second half. The Cardinals also got destroyed on the glass as they were outrebounded 38-19.

Missing those two players certainly hurt Louisville in this one but the schedule gets quite a bit easier from here.

Louisville only has one ranked team remaining on the regular season schedule as they get two against Syracuse and games with Wake Forest and Miami. Those are three tough teams trying to fight for the NCAA tournament but the Cardinals should also be favored in most of those games as long as they have most of their lineup.

That means the Cardinals can still compete for the ACC regular-season crown if they win out — especially with a crack at conference-leader North Carolina on Feb. 22.

With Louisville expecting Snider to be potentially back by the weekend, they should be back to full strength for the stretch run.

Clemson’s uphill battle for the NCAA tournament continues with loss to No. 19 Virginia

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London Perrantes knocked down a key go-ahead three-pointer with just under two minutes left as No. 19 Virginia outlasted Clemson for a 77-73 ACC road win.

With the game tied at 70 with two minutes left, Perrantes showed why he’s one of college basketball’s most clutch shooters by burying another game-deciding jumper. The senior point guard finished with a game-high 25 points as he led an efficient offensive effort for Virginia that saw the ‘Hoos shoot 58 percent (29-for-50) from the floor and 55 percent (10-for-18) from three-point range.

Virginia also had a strong outing from forward Marial Shayok, as he finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, while Isaiah Wilkins added eight points and 13 rebounds.

This is a nice road win for Virginia, especially since they’ve struggled in close games in ACC play. After some recent close losses to Florida State and Pitt in overtime, it was important for Virginia to come out on top on the road against a team with NCAA tournament aspirations.

While this win is solid for Virginia, this loss is potentially catastrophic for Clemson’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Losing against a top-25 team like the Cavaliers isn’t going to hurt too much but this now makes four consecutive losses for the Tigers as they now fall to 1-4 in ACC play and 11-5 overall. Clemson needs all the ACC wins they can get as they try to build up an NCAA tournament resume and the Tigers just squandered a valuable opportunity for a good win against a quality opponent.

Now Clemson has to go on the road at Louisville and host Virginia Tech in the next two games as neither of those two games are going to be easy to win. I think it’s safe to say that we’re getting close to must-win time for this team and the Tigers need to fix things in a hurry to save their season. Looking over Clemson’s resume, their best win at the moment is over South Carolina, so they really need to start picking off some of the ACC’s better teams in a hurry if they want to make it back in the tournament.

No. 25 West Virginia secures big road win at No. 6 Virginia

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Coming into Saturday afternoon’s game both No. 6 Virginia and No. 25 West Virginia were trying to figure some things out offensively while sticking to recent identities.

The Cavaliers could rely on their trademark stingy defense to squeeze opponents into low scores while the Mountaineers wanted to press and use their length, athleticism and depth to wear down opponents and force turnovers.

Neither team had a real go-to scorer.

And despite Virginia dictating the game’s tempo, West Virginia was able to hang around long enough and deliver the final blow to capture a 66-57 signature non-conference road win on Saturday.

West Virginia (6-1) responded after Daxter Miles Jr. was ejected in the first half for throwing an elbow at the head of Isaiah Wilkins as the Mountaineers forced enough turnovers to outlast Virginia.

With the game tied at 55 with under two minutes left, Esa Ahmad (nine points) buried the go-ahead three as the Cavaliers went cold in the final minute.

Guard Jevon Carter paced West Virginia with 11 points while Nathan Adrian finished with 10 points. West Virginia forced 14 Virginia turnovers, which isn’t a particularly high amount, but in a game with fewer possessions as Virginia tends to play (61 possessions in Saturday’s game compared to West Virginia’s averaged of 75) that is a good amount.

This is a potential signature victory for West Virginia’s NCAA tournament hopes. It also gives West Virginia a leg up as a bunch of teams are trying to jockey for position in the Big 12 as Kansas and Baylor have looked like the top two teams early in the season.

Winning at Virginia at least puts West Virginia in the conversation among the Big 12’s best teams. With the Mountaineers playing a pretty easy schedule this win was nice to have going into a stretch of winnable buy games that should inflate West Virginia’s record heading into conference play.

Virginia (7-1) jumped out to a 16-6 lead and looked like they might be able to run away with it early, but West Virginia was able to settle in and make it a slugfest. With the loss of Austin Nichols, this team is still struggling to find a guy who can get them easy buckets.

London Perrantes is more equipped to be a setup guy and Darius Thompson had some nice stretches to finish with 14 points, but he was also inconsistent and scored in bursts when the team needed a consistent shotmaker.

We know Tony Bennett’s team is going to defend all life out of you, but if the game is close and they need someone to take over the offense, they’re still seeking a go-to guy. In a deep and rugged ACC that should feature a lot of close games, this will be something to monitor.