Allen helps George Mason upend Virginia 63-59

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Allen helps George Mason upend Virginia 63-59

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) Bryon Allen hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining, then sank two free throws to seal George Mason's 63-59 victory over Virginia on Friday.

Allen's 3-pointer just beat the shot block buzzer and gave the Patriots a 60-57 advantage with 1:02 remaining. The junior's foul shots with 2.1 seconds left ended the Cavaliers' 14-game winning streak in season openers and gave George Mason its first win in the series in eight tries.

``I didn't have a good look at all, I just tried to put it up there,'' Allen said of his go-ahead basket. ``Honestly, I'm just trying to get it up. It felt good, and once it got halfway there, I knew it was going in.''

The Patriots escaped with the victory despite missing 10 of 17 foul shots in the second half. Virginia knocked down seven 3-pointers, but George Mason used full-court defensive pressure and forced the Cavaliers' depleted backcourt into several key turnovers down the stretch.

It was the George Mason's first win over an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent since defeating North Carolina during their run to the Final Four in 2006.

``You look at the turnovers, and 12 to not an alarming number. (But) we had a number of turnovers in a row, and I thought that some of those were costly,'' said Virginia coach Tony Bennett, who started three freshmen. ``To come into this setting, the first experience for these guys, it was a great atmosphere. You try to grow from it.''

Both teams were missing multiple players.

Virginia played without four guards: Teven Jones - who sat out while serving a suspension for violating team rules, Jontel Evans, Malcolm Brogdon and walk-on Justin Miller, who missed the game with injuries.

George Mason was without forward Eric Copes and guard Vaughn Gray, who were serving the first game of a 3-game suspension for student-athlete conduct violations.

The Patriots managed to overcome a scoreless drought of 6 minutes, 56 seconds midway through the first half to take a 28-25 lead at halftime. Poor shooting by the Cavaliers - 33 percent in the first half and 40 percent for the game - enabled the Patriots to hang around and eventually take the lead at the half on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Marko Gujanicic.

``We thought it was going to be this kind of game, and I'm very proud of how our guys hung in there,'' George Mason coach Paul Hewitt said. ``It's a great win for us.''

Sherrod Wright paced the Patriots with 15 points, while Allen added 13 and Johnny Williams had 11.

Joe Harris scored 19 points to lead Virginia.

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Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2017 Redskins

Jay Gruden set out to dispell the "doom and gloom" that has overtaken many Redskins fans this offseason when he talked to the media earlier this week. To what extent do you agree with the coach that the feeling should be one of optimism and excitement? 

As always, hit the poll and then either reply on Twitter to talk about your answer or come back here and hit the comments. 

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Jay Gruden loves Rob Kelley, but would also love drafting a 'special' RB

Jay Gruden loves Rob Kelley, but would also love drafting a 'special' RB

Redskins coach Jay Gruden has a very high opinion of running back Rob Kelley. He surprised many by making the 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie last year and when starter Matt Jones faltered, Kelley took over as the starter for the last nine games.

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden told reporters earlier this week at the NFL meetings in Phoenix.

“I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

Actually, Kelley had 65 carries as a senior at Tulane, for 232 yards and one touchdown.

But Gruden’s overall point about Kelley being a little-used back in college. In four years with the Green Wave he never had as many as 100 carries in a single season.

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Kelley got 168 carries in the NFL last year, gaining 704 yards. He scored six touchdowns, the same number that he scored in 49 games at Tulane.

Gruden was not done singing Kelley’s praises.

“He had some of the greatest two-yard runs I’ve seen,” the coach continued.

“He gets back to the line of scrimmage, he keeps his feet moving, he protects the ball. He’s going to get better in pass protection. Catching the ball, he did a nice job. He dropped a couple here and there but for the most part he catches the ball. I really think the vision he has he’ll be more patient as a runner this year. I think he’s going to be a good back, I really do.

“A lot of people think we need a great running back. I think Rob is a great running back, I really do.”

While that certainly is a ringing endorsement, Gruden wouldn’t shy away upgrading the position in the draft.

“There are some special players in this draft, if they’re available they’d be hard to pass up, quite frankly,” Gruden said moments after lauding Kelley.

MORE REDSKINS: JAY GRUDEN BULLISH ON 2017 REDSKINS

Two of the running back considered “special” who may be available when the Redskins make their pick in the first round are Dalvin Cook of Florida State and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford. In a separate interview with JP Finlay of CSN, Gruden talked about those two backs.

 “That’s the thing about those two guys, they can move around,” said Gruden. “They’re not just lining up in the I formation running the power play. They can line up outside at different spots, play receiver, catch the ball out of the backfield and they can also run it between the tackles. They’re not just one dimensional players, they’re very exciting.”

So to sum up the coach’s thought process here, Gruden thinks that Kelley is a “great” running back but the team would find it tough to pass on “special” and “exciting” alternatives. It doesn’t sound to me like Kelley should get too comfortable with the idea of being the lead dog at running back. And those Redskins fans who have earmarked that first-round draft pick for defense may end up being very disappointed.   

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.