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No. 11 North Carolina beats No. 10 Virginia Tech 103-82

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Freshman Coby White scored 27 points and No. 11 North Carolina knocked down a season-high 16 3-pointers to beat No. 10 Virginia Tech 103-82 on Monday night.

Fellow rookie Nassir Little added a season-high 23 points for the Tar Heels (15-4, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who struggled out of the gate to fall behind by nine while making just 1 of their first 12 3s.

But it wasn’t long before just about everything started falling from behind the arc, an avalanche that sparked a game-turning 20-0 run that pushed UNC to a 45-31 lead by halftime.

UNC made 15 of its last 22 3-pointers, finished the game shooting 54 percent and led by as many as 27 points.

Ahmed Hill scored 20 points for the Hokies (15-3, 4-2), who made 6 of 7 3-pointers in a fast start only to end the half by going nearly 6 minutes without a basket.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia Tech: This was the Hokies’ second road game against a ranked opponent in the past week. Things went poorly in the first at No. 3 Virginia, with the Hokies struggling at both ends in a woeful first half en route to a 22-point loss. They had a better start by moving the ball crisply (seven assists on their first eight baskets) and knocking down a barrage of outside looks. But they cooled a bit then had little answer for the Tar Heels’ game-turning flurry, which came after starting point guard Justin Robinson headed to the bench with his third foul at the 9:52 mark.

UNC: The Tar Heels were coming off a win at Miami that pushed them to 3-0 on the road in ACC play for only the fourth time in 16 seasons under Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams. This time they shook off that flat start once they started knocking down all the looks they were missing in the opening minutes. It helped, too, that the Tar Heels’ touted freshmen only got hotter as the game wore on. White finished with seven rebounds and six assists, while Little had his third straight double-figure scoring output with six rebounds.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: The Hokies host Syracuse on Saturday night.

UNC: The Tar Heels visit Georgia Tech on Jan. 29.

This story has been corrected to show UNC’s game at Georgia Tech is Jan. 29, not Saturday.

More AP college basketball: http://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

Nichols, Savoy lead No. 13 Florida State past Miami 68-62

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — David Nichols had 13 points and PJ Savoy scored eight of his 10 in the second half as the bench players helped No. 13 Florida State hold off Miami 68-62 on Wednesday night.

The Hurricanes used an 8-0 run late to close the gap to 64-62 with 46.4 seconds left, but Terance Mann’s putback with 29 seconds remaining gave the Seminoles breathing room. Mann finished with nine points and seven rebounds.

Phil Cofer added seven points and six rebounds for the Seminoles (12-2, 1-1 ACC).

Chris Lykes scored 17 points and Anthony Lawrence II added 14 for Miami (8-6, 0-3). Ebuka Izundu had 13 points and nine rebounds.

Florida State adjusted its rotation frequently on a night when it was called for 20 fouls, including 12 in the first half. The foul trouble neutralized a significant depth advantage over Miami’s eight-man rotation.

Florida State shot 42 percent (27 of 64) from the floor and made 23 percent (6 of 26) of its 3-pointers.

Miami shot 38 percent (20 of 53) from the field and hit just 22 percent (4 of 18) of its 3s.

Dejan Vasilijevic was averaging 44 percent from 3-point range but was held to just a pair of 3s in 29 minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Miami: The Hurricanes have dropped their last three games at Florida State and are 8-31 overall in Tallahassee.

Florida State: The Seminoles have won five straight against teams from the Sunshine State, a streak that includes wins over Florida in November and North Florida in December.

UP NEXT

Miami hosts Wake Forest on Saturday.

Florida State hosts No. 1 Duke on Saturday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

No. 9 Virginia Tech holds off Georgia Tech 52-49

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ATLANTA — Ahmed Hill scored 15 points, Kerry Blackshear Jr. added 14 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 9 Virginia Tech overcame a terrible shooting performance to beat Georgia Tech 52-49 on Wednesday night.

The Hokies (14-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their ninth straight game for the school’s best start to a season since the 1982-83 team had an identical record. They never trailed after Georgia Tech led in the first minute.

Virginia Tech, the nation’s second-best 3-point shooting team, hit only five 3s and finished at 18.5 percent from beyond the arc but still made enough stops to win.

Jose Alvarado scored 20 points and Abdoulaye Gueye had 11 for Georgia Tech (9-6, 1-1). The Yellow Jackets had won three in a row.

The game featured an abundance of mistakes in the closing minutes. Justin Robinson missed the front end of a 1-and-1 for Virginia Tech and Michael Devoe did the same for the Yellow Jackets. James Banks III missed an easy layup for Georgia Tech and, after Blackshear hit a free throw, Brandon Alston threw the ball out of bounds with no teammate nearby.

Gueye made the final gaffe, stepping on the baseline as he attempted to throw a pass down court with 1.8 seconds remaining.

Hill provided the spark offensively and Robinson defensively as the Hokies earned a tough conference road win with a trip to No. 4 Virginia up next.

Virginia Tech appears to be back where it left off last February when it achieved its highest ranking ever at No. 8. But on this night, the Hokies had to make do without their usual perimeter shooting.

Virginia Tech was 2 for 13 on 3s before Hill connected from the left corner. He followed with an acrobatic, fast-break dunk on the ensuing possession to make it 37-27.

The Hokies missed their next eight attempts from beyond the arc before Isaiah Wilkins hit a 3 with 7:42 remaining.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia Tech: Robinson, a senior guard and the school’s No. 3 career leader in assists, turned his focus to defense with the Hokies struggling to shoot in the first half, drawing three offensive fouls and pumping his fist at the Georgia Tech student section during another stand. In the closing minutes, Robinson jumped to affect Devoe’s attempted 3 and fell hard to the floor and hit the small of his back in front of the Virginia Tech bench. He rolled over onto his chest, got up and soon grabbed the missed free throw before assisting on Hill’s layup with a long bounce pass.

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets were coming off three straight wins because of improved shot selection, but they couldn’t match Virginia Tech’s length and size. Alvarado was the only steady offensive force. Banks, the team’s second-leading scorer, had just two points on 1-for-5 shooting. Curtis Haywood III, its fourth-leading scorer, missed the game with flu-like symptoms.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: Off the rest of the week. The Hokies visit No. 4 Virginia next Tuesday.

Georgia Tech: Plays at Syracuse on Saturday.

For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Tuesday’s Things to Know: Texas Tech wins; Iowa State, Mississippi State upset; Villanova takes Big East reigns

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Tuesday’s night of college basketball had some really good conference games as ACC, Big 12 and SEC contests all came down to the wire. We saw some upsets go down in the Big 12 and the SEC, while the Big East saw a familiar team win a critical home game against a recent upstart. 

1. Jarrett Culver lifts No. 8 Texas Tech past No. 23 Oklahoma in Big 12 play

Now that Kansas has lost Udoka Azubuike for the season and fallen at Iowa State, they look susceptible to potentially losing control of the Big 12. Texas Tech has taken advantage with a 3-0 start in league play after another close win over the Sooners, 66-59.

Player of the Year candidate Jarrett Culver took over the game down the stretch for the Red Raiders as he scored eight consecutive points during one stretch to finish with 23 points and 13 rebounds on an efficient 8-for-13 shooting and 7-for-7 performance from the line.

With the league’s best player in Culver, along with a defense that looks stifling, Texas Tech could have enough to be the leaders in the Big 12 race at this current moment. Although counting out Kansas would be really stupid, the Jayhawks still have to regroup from losing a huge piece for them while Texas Tech looks like they know how to win close games with a closer in Culver.

The Big 12 schedule won’t get much easier for the Red Raiders, as they travel to Texas before hosting Iowa State after that.

2. No. 12 North Carolina earns a road win at No. 15 North Carolina State

Perhaps the biggest game of the night was the ranked clash between ACC rivals North Carolina and North Carolina State. The Tar Heels earned a road win with a 90-82 final over the Wolfpack.

Jumping out to an early 12-0 lead, North Carolina never trailed in this contest as they put together an impressive start-to-finish effort. Luke Maye led the Tar Heels with 21 points while Coby White added 19 points as North Carolina won this with Cameron Johnson out and battling leg cramps for the final 12 minutes.

N.C. State deserves credit for battling back and tying this game twice in the second half, but they could never get over the hump to take a lead. Braxton Beverly led the Pack with 21 points as this loss snapped a seven-game winning streak.

2. Baylor takes down No. 20 Iowa State to add to the Big 12’s crazy night

While Texas Tech is unbeaten in the Big 12, Iowa State looked like a major threat coming off of a weekend in which they knocked off Kansas in convincing fashion. Baylor had other ideas when they led most of the game in a 73-70 win over Iowa State.

Makai Mason had 25 points to pace the Bears, who earned one of their most important wins of the season as a likely bubble team. Coming off of a close loss at TCU, this is the type of solid win that Baylor needed to stay in the NCAA tournament mix. They get another huge opportunity when they host Kansas on Jan. 12.

Iowa State only led by two points and just didn’t look like a Big 12 contender during a flat performance. While the Cyclones didn’t play poorly, their young players didn’t step up as they have at previous times this season as Marial Shayok paced them with 19 points.

The Cyclones are still going to be a dangerous Big 12 team, but Texas Tech is the top dog at the moment after Tuesday night’s results. The young Cyclones still have the talent to potentially win the league, but it is road games like this against fringe tournament teams like Baylor that they need to win to stay in that race.

4. Villanova maintains unbeaten Big East mark with win over No. 24 St. John’s

One of Tuesday’s most important games featured two top teams in the Big East. While some have written off Villanova after some early losses to Furman and Penn, the Wildcats remained unblemished in the league with a big 76-71 win over No. 24 St. John’s.

Eric Paschall finished with 25 points while Phil Booth had 23 points and six three-pointers — including the go-ahead look in the second half. The Wildcats are the sole undefeated team in the Big East as they’re off to a solid start in league play. Winning over St. John’s — a team many believe to be a major contender — is proof that Villanova should be taken seriously once again in the Big East race.

The Red Storm were paced by Shamorie Ponds’ 23 points, but Mustapha Heron struggled to a 3-for-11 night from the field to finish with eight points.

There is still a long way to go in the Big East race, and these two teams will play again on Feb. 17, as St. John’s will try to bounce back after a 2-2 start in league play.

5. South Carolina drops No. 14 Mississippi State for upset win

The SEC gave us one of the night’s notable upsets as the Gamecocks took down the Bulldogs with an 87-82 overtime win.

People weren’t sure what to make of Mississippi State’s season as they entered this game with a bloated record thanks to a pretty easy schedule. The Bulldogs deserve credit for some solid wins (Cincinnati, Clemson) and no terrible losses.

But a loss to a South Carolina team ranked in the 115s on KenPom likely isn’t going to be a realistic SEC contender against the likes of Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee.

To South Carolina’s credit, they’re now 2-0 in league play as they hit the offensive glass and defend hard. Maik Kotsar played the best game of his Gamecock career with 25 points and nine rebounds as led five double-figure scorers for South Carolina.

Mississippi State will likely still find itself in fine position to make the NCAA tournament, but this is the type of loss that makes you question their ceiling for this season.

No. 12 UNC beats No. 15 NC State 90-82 in rivalry game

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Luke Maye scored 21 points to help No. 12 North Carolina hold off No. 15 North Carolina State 90-82 on Tuesday night in the longtime rivals’ latest meeting.

Freshman Coby White added 19 points for the Tar Heels (12-3, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who scored the game’s first 12 points and never trailed. But UNC had to turn away a series of pushes from the Wolfpack, who twice tied the game after halftime but never managed to push in front.

The Tar Heels went 6-for-6 at the line in the final 32.1 seconds to seal the win, their sixth straight in Raleigh. UNC also won despite playing the last 12-plus minutes without leading scorer Cameron Johnson, who exited with leg cramps.

Braxton Beverly scored 21 points to lead N.C. State (13-2, 1-1), which had won seven straight games.

BIG PICTURE

UNC: The Tar Heels had built momentum since losing to Kentucky on Dec. 22, beating Davidson and Harvard before winning their league opener at Pittsburgh — all by 20 or more points. It wasn’t always pretty Tuesday night, most notably with the Tar Heels committing 23 turnovers that led to 20 points for the Wolfpack. But UNC kept coming up with a response every time N.C. State made a push.

N.C. State: More than a month had passed since the Wolfpack’s lone loss at Wisconsin, with N.C. State beating then-No. 7 Auburn and entering the AP poll for the first time since January 2013. That run included last week’s win at Miami in the ACC opener, which pushed the Wolfpack to the program’s best start since the 1973-74 season, which ended with an NCAA championship. But a bad start put N.C. State in catch-up mode early, and the Wolfpack never could string enough shots together to grab a lead and ride the momentum of a rowdy home crowd.

UP NEXT

UNC: The Tar Heels host Louisville on Saturday.

N.C. State: Pittsburgh visits the Wolfpack on Saturday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

No. 9 Florida State holds off Winthrop 87-76

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Terrance Mann and Phil Cofer helped No. 9 Florida State keep its impressive start to the season going and finish its nonconference schedule nearly perfect.

Mann scored a season-high 22 points, Cofer added 14 and the Seminoles beat Winthrop 87-76 Tuesday for their seventh straight victory. Florida State improved to 12-1 for the fourth time in school history.

“I’m glad that we got the non-conference part of the schedule out of the way,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “The most positive thing I can say is that we can feel good about the fact that we’re 12-1 and I really believe we have still a lot of upside with this team.”

Mann shot 10 of 11 from the floor, scoring 14 second-half points and grabbing seven rebounds. Cofer made four of his five shots in the first half but missed all three in the second.

The Seminoles’ only blemish so far while matching its best start was a six-point loss to Villanova on Nov. 25. Florida State even did it while playing 10 games without Cofer, the leading scorer from last season’s Elite Eight team, after the senior forward missed nearly seven weeks with a foot injury.

Florida State has long been known as an athletic and deep team. The Seminoles had 39 points from its reserves against Winthrop, and regularly receive significant contributions from their sixth through 11th players. And now with Cofer back from injury, they are arguably one of the deepest teams in college basketball.

“Just to see shots falling for him after what he’s been through has been key for us,” Mann said. “His energy is back on the defensive end, the vocal energy, and that’s just what we needed.”

Florida State was 8 for 16 on 3-pointers in the first half en route to taking a 52-36 lead. Winthrop came into the game as the No. 2 team in the nation in 3-point shots made per game but was just 1 of 10 from beyond the arc in the first half and finished 26.1 percent (6 of 23).

The Seminoles held a 56-38 lead early in the second half but Winthrop pulled to 63-61 with 11:50 left. Florida State, however, never lost the lead and stayed in control.

“They’re Noah’s Ark,” Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey said. “They got two of everything. They got NBA prospects. They’re long, athletic, physical. They play very team-oriented basketball.”

The Seminoles shot 46.9 percent (30 of 64) from the floor.

Adam Pickett scored 19 points and Charles Falden added a season-high 15 points for Winthrop (8-5), whose four-game winning streak ended. The Eagles made 49.2 percent (29 of 59) shots from the floor.

Winthrop played without its top player, Nych Smith, and Bjorn Broman was limited to 14 minutes because of injury. Smith, a senior guard, is averaging a team-high 16 points this season was out with an ankle injury.

“We just didn’t want to risk it,” Kelsey said.

TIMELY DEFENSE

Florida State limited Winthrop to just six 3-pointers, less than half of the Eagles’ per-game average. Anthony Polite scored eight points but had three critical steals, contributing to the Seminoles’ season-high 13 steals.

“He gave us a lot of energy on the defensive end,” Mann said. “And mean and aggressive offensively, not thinking too much and playing his game.”

Florida State also had a season-high eight blocks, including four by Mfiondu Kabengele.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Florida State returned after a nine-day layoff and impressed with a 52-point first half. But the Seminoles’ best chance to move up will come in the ACC opener on Saturday against No. 4 Virginia.

BIG PICTURE

Winthrop: The Eagles got 40 points on layups, at times driving to the basket with ease. Winthrop, however, was hurt by 21 turnovers

Florida State: The Seminoles were dominant for stretches but nearly squandered an 18-point lead. But they still secured their 32nd straight non-conference victory at the Donald L. Tucker Center.

UP NEXT

Winthrop: Begins its Big South schedule at UNC Asheville on Saturday.

Florida State: Opens Atlantic Coast Conference play at Virginia on Saturday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25