Virginia Cavaliers

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ACC coaches back idea of all D-I teams in 2021 NCAA tourney

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball coaches are pushing the idea of having next year’s NCAA Tournament include all eligible teams in Division I.

Numerous league schools and coaches released statements Wednesday after the coaches held their weekly call to discuss the proposal, which was first reported by Stadium. There are 357 Division I programs in the country, with NCAA spokeswoman Meghan Durham saying 346 of those are eligible to play in next year’s tournament.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said the ACC coaches are “united in strongly pursuing this” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that led to the cancellation of last year’s NCAA Tournament days before the field of 68 was set to be revealed. Multiple coaches said creating an everybody-gets-in format would be an incentive for schools as they create the safest conditions possible for returning to play.

“This is not a regular season,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “It is clearly an irregular season that will require something different. Our sport needs to be agile and creative. Most importantly, an all-inclusive postseason tournament will allow a unique and unprecedented opportunity for every team and every student-athlete to compete for a national championship.”

Durham declined comment specifically on the proposal in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday. Last month, NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said the Division I oversight committees for men’s and women’s basketball planned to announce by mid-September plans for whether the season and preseason practice would start on time or require a delay due to the pandemic.

Louisville coach Chris Mack said the proposal would provide flexibility during the season without mandating a number of nonconference or conference games to be played. And the league has already experienced that scheduling challenge with football and other fall sports.

The ACC announced in July that it would have each football team play 10 league games – including the addition of Notre Dame as a football member this year – and one nonconference game to be played in the home state of the member school. Those schedules were released in early August, slightly more than a month before Thursday’s UAB-Miami game kicks off the season.

“This is a time to think differently,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said, adding: “After all these players have been through, what better way to reward them than the opportunity to compete in an unprecedented version of the most exciting event in sports.”

No. 22 Virginia knocks off No. 10 Louisville

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Kihei Clark scored 18 points, including a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left, and No. 22 Virginia recovered after blowing a 14-point second half lead to beat No. 10 Louisville 57-54 on Saturday.

The Cavaliers (23-7, 15-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) won for the 10th time in 11 games and moved into a tie with the Cardinals for second place in the league standings, leaving the door open for No. 7 Florida State to claim the title with a victory over Boston College.

Mamadi Diakite added 17 points and eight rebounds for Virginia in his final game at John Paul Jones Arena. Jay Huff scored 11 points and blocked a shot from in close by Steven Enoch with 51 seconds and grabbed the rebound.

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Jordan Nwora had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Enoch scored 11 points for the Cardinals (24-7, 15-5). They lost for the second time in three games, but not before making it very interesting.

The Cavaliers used a 27-8 run spanning halftime to open a 40-28 lead with just under 15 minutes to play, but the Nwora scored the first 10 points in a 16-6 burst that pulled them even at 51 with 5:11 left. Ryan McMahon and Darius Perry hit 3-pointers to end the burst, the latter Perry’s only field goal of the game.

Diakite’s free throw broke the tie, and after Louisville Missed, Clark made a 3-pointer, setting off a celebration. The Cardinals only points the rest of the way came on a 3-point by Samuell Williamson with 0.03 seconds left.

BIG PICTURE

Louisville: The Cardinals made four 3-pointers in a span of 3:24, fueling a 14-2 run that gave them a 16-8 lead with 11 minutes left. They didn’t make another 3 until there was 9:56 left in the second half on their 17th attempt overall.

Virginia: The only blemish for the Cavaliers in their final dozen regular season games came in an 80-73 loss at Louisville on Feb. 8. At the time, it represented both their highest scoring total of the season and the highest total they had allowed. … Louisville’s scoring low before Saturday was 57 points against Texas Tech, the team Virginia beat in last year’s national championship game, on Dec. 10.

UP NEXT

Both teams will open play in the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina, in the quarterfinals Thursday.

Late free throws push No. 22 Virginia past Miami

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CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Kihei Clark made both ends of a one-and-one with eight seconds left to provide the winning margin and No. 22 Virginia beat Miami 46-44 on Wednesday night for its seventh victory in a row.

Six of the Cavaliers’ victories during the streak have been by a total of 13 points.

Junior Jay Huff led Virginia with 17 points — and they were the Cavaliers’ first 17 points of the game. Mamadi Diakite had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Virginia (22-7, 14-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) hasn’t lost since Feb. 8 against Louisville. The teams meet again Saturday in Charlottesville.

Miami (14-15, 6-13) lost its third game in a row and is winless in seven games against ranked teams this season.

Keith Stone’s 3-pointer for Miami with 2:16 to go made it 44-all. The Hurricanes then committed a turnover and missed two shots before freshman Harlond Beverly fouled Clark near the midcourt stripe.

After the Virginia sophomore sank both free throws, Miami’s DJ Vasiljevic missed a runner from 10 feet.

The Cavaliers won even though they missed their final six shots and went without a field goal for the final 4:46. They shot 37 percent but won while scoring less than 50 points for the fourth time this season, and held an opponent under 50 for the 12th time.

Chris Lykes led Miami with 16 points but cut his eye in a scrum with 12 minutes left and missed the rest of the game. The Hurricanes trailed 33-30 when he departed.

The score was 9-9 after 13 minutes before the offensive pace picked up.

The first half was a two-man show. Huff was the only Cavaliers player to score in the first 16:42. Lykes scored 14 points in the opening half, including a buzzer-beater to cut Virginia’s lead to 24-23 at halftime.

BIG PICTURE

The Cavaliers, ranked for the first time since early January, helped their chances of remaining in the Top 25 next week.

The Hurricanes have lost 17 games in a row against ranked teams. Their most recent win came in February 2018 at No. 9 North Carolina.

UP NEXT

Virginia: The Cavaliers play at home Saturday against No. 10 Louisville, which won 80-73 when the teams met on Feb. 8.

Miami: The Hurricanes conclude the regular season Saturday at home against Syracuse. The Orange have won three of the past four meetings.

Wednesday’s Things to Know: Minnesota’s loss is Maryland’s gain, Penn State survives Rutgers and Kihei Clark delivers

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Some wild finishes from around the country Wednesday night. Let’s not waste any time diving into them. Here’s what you need to know:

Maryland wins after Minnesota stumbles down the stretch..again

This one was equal parts great for Maryland and devastating for Minnesota.

Well, it’s probably more devastating for the Gophers.

Minnesota, its NCAA tournament hopes already barely registering a pulse and its coach’s job security looking increasingly suspect, led the ninth-ranked Terrapins by as many as 17 in the first half and then by eight with just over 2 minutes to play, but absolutely crumbled down the stretch as Maryland got a go-ahead 3 from Darryl Morsell with 1.9 seconds left to deliver a 74-73 victory at Williams Arena.

For Richard Pitino and the Gophers, it was probably the end of whatever hopes they had for an NCAA tournament berth that didn’t include a conference tournament championship run. They’re 13-14 on the season, and were already looking at being on the bubble from a considerable distance. A win against a top-10 team at home could have changed that in a major way, but a loss leaves them in the status quo. Put it in context that its another blown home game – not much unlike the Iowa and Indiana games earlier this month – and it’s even harder to see the path to an second-straight NCAA tournament. Which means an All-American-type season for sophomore center Daniel Oturu, who had 28 & 11 against Maryland, will likely go for naught.

So that leaves Minnesota outside the dance for the fifth time in seven seasons under Pitino. The Gophers are also in danger of finishing under .500 for the second time in three years and the third in five. The school president and athletic director also weren’t the ones around when Pitino replaced Tubby Smith – who went to three tournaments in six years – in 2013. There may be a decision to consider in Minneapolis next month.

On the happier side of the ledger is Maryland, which maintained its two-game lead over Michigan State and Penn State along with its chances of a No. 1 seed come selection Sunday. It was the fourth time this season that the Terps have overcome a deficit of at least 14 points to win a game. They played much of the first half without Jalen Smith, who was dealing with foul trouble, while shooting 31 percent from the field and going 2 of 14 from the 3-point line. Smith played all 20 minutes of the second half (scoring 14 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking two shots) while Maryland shot 44.1 percent from the field (although still just 4 of 14 from deep).

All that is a long way of saying that Maryland was pitted against a desperate team on the road, played without one of its most important players and shot it terrible in the first half, but still won.

Still, Mark Turgeon is gonna wake up tired tomorrow.

Penn State blows a big lead, but holds on against Rutgers

Not a dissimilar situation from Maryland/Minnesota.

Penn State was the team blowing a lead in this one – a 21-point lead – but the Nittany Lions’ Myles Dread’s late 3-pointer delivered a 65-64 win for the home favorite and hand the team in need of an NCAA tournament boost a crushing L.

The Scarlet Knights have an OK resume – they’ve got three Quad 1 wins, a single Quad 3 loss and are 7-9 against Quad 2s – but with Wednesday’s loss at Penn State, they still don’t have a win away from home on the season. And for a team already on the bubble, a home game against Maryland and a road trip to Purdue isn’t an ideal way to have to finish the season and wrap up a bid before the conference tournament.

Conversely, Penn State is already clearly going to get the first NCAA tournament spot under Pat Chambers and has a couple of really nice resume opportunities left. They’re at Iowa before hosting Michigan State (and then finishing up at Northwestern). Winning the Big Ten regular season title is probably a long shot with Maryland up a pair of games, but getting a top-four seed is absolutely in play.

Kihei Clark won Virginia its fifth-straight game

When you’re in a down league and playing good-but-not-great basketball a year after winning the national title, you don’t generate a lot of buzz. Especially if you’re Virginia, playing games with halftime scores like 26-11, as was the case Wednesday against Virginia Tech.

The Cavaliers, though, have now won five-straight because after the Hokies figure a few things out offensively, Virginia got a game-winner from Kihei Clark.

Tony Bennett’s team is now just a game back of second in the ACC and two behind Florida State in first with three games – including against Duke and Louisville – to play.

Virginia certainly isn’t nearly as interesting or good as the team that cut down nets in Minneapolis last spring, but they’re playing serious defense and getting clutch plays from the point guard. Not a bad March formula.

Virginia upends No. 5 Florida State, 61-56

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Remember back to the season’s opening night? Nearly three months ago? That was when Virginia embarrassed Syracuse in a 48-34 win. That game foretold a lot of the season up to this point for the Cavaliers. Their title-defending team would have the defense that’s defined Tony Bennett’s program while the offense, well, that would be a bit of a struggle. What it did not predict was more Quad 1 wins, as the Cavaliers, despite a dominating defense, failed to rack up another such victory after that season-opener.

Until Tuesday.

Virginia injected some life into its NCAA tournament hopes with a 61-56 win over fifth-ranked Florida State in Charlottesville to pick up a critical victory in an ACC that offers far fewer marquee opportunities than in years past.

The victory was exactly what Bennett’s team needed to help buoy that resume before the start of February. January was extremely rough on them with a 3-4 mark before the win over the Seminoles put them at .500 for the month. With only four chances left against the ACC’s best of FSU, Duke and Louisville, beating the Seminoles at home may not have been an absolute-must for the Cavs, but it sure makes it a lot easier to chart a path to the tournament now, even if it’s still a rocky road, than if they had dropped the game.

Point guard Kihei Clark scored 11 of his 15 points after halftime, changing the game offensively for the Cavaliers with his dribble penetration into the middle of the Florida State defense. He wasn’t wildly efficient, but his ability to get into the teeth of the defense – creating some buckets and free throws for himself and chances for his teammates – provided just enough lift for the offensively-challenged team. His beautiful reverse layup with a minute left gave Virginia a lead it would not relinquish as it closed the game on an 8-0 run.

Mamadi Diakite had 19 points and nine boards for Virginia while Braxton Key had 13 points and nine rebounds.

The loss stops a 10-game winning streak for the ‘Noles, who led for most of the game but could not ever find any meaningful separation. Devin Vassell had 17 points to lead Florida State, which had two shots to tie the game in the final seconds but missed both 3-point attempts horribly. If Virginia can surge a little in the season’s final month, this win won’t be much more than a missed opportunity for the Seminoles, but if it proves to just be a blip on the radar for Virginia, Florida State may have done some damage to its seed line Tuesday.

Boeheim lifts Syracuse past No. 18 Virginia, 63-55 in OT

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Buddy Boeheim scored nine of his 14 points in overtime and Syracuse outlasted No. 18 Virginia 63-55 on Saturday. The Orange scored 20 points in the extra period after netting just 19 in the second half.

Boeheim hit the third of three consecutive 3s for the Orange (9-7, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) and added another when he made a desperate heave from well behind the 3-point line to beat the shot clock late in the extra period.

Elijah Hughes, who scored 18 points, hit the first 3 of the overtime for the Orange and freshman Joe Girard, who scored 19, hit the second.

Jay Huff had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Virginia (11-4, 3-2), which lost back-to-back games for the first time since the 2016-17 season. Mamadi Diakita and Kihei Clark each added 13 points for the Cavaliers.

Neither team scored in the final 1:20 of regulation, but the Orange hit their first four shots of the extra period.

BIG PICTURE

Syracuse: The Orange scored 34 points in their first game against the Cavaliers, which was the season-opener for both teams. Syracuse started Saturday averaging 73.7 points and haven’t scored fewer than 54 in a game since the opener. They had 43 at the end of regulation at Virginia.

Virginia: The Cavaliers’ inconsistency on offense was on full display in the second half when they didn’t score for nearly 3 minutes, then scored 12 consecutive points in about 3 1/2 minutes to take a 35-30 lead. Immediately thereafter, they went 7 minutes without a point.

UP NEXT

Syracuse returns home to face Boston College on Wednesday night.

Virginia goes on the road to face No. 10 Florida State on Wednesday night.