Harris' 19 points lead Virginia past Tar Heels

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Harris' 19 points lead Virginia past Tar Heels

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Joe Harris scored 19 points and sparked a 15-2 second-half run and Virginia rallied to beat North Carolina 61-52 in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both schools on Sunday night.

Harris' 3-pointer sparked the game-changing burst for Virginia (11-3, 1-0), which had just gone behind 34-26 after North Carolina opened the half on a 9-2 run.

Reggie Bullock scored 22 points for the Tar Heels (10-4, 0-1), who lost for the first time in five visits to John Paul Jones Arena.

Bullock's final basket came with 3:11 to play, pulling the Tar Heels within 51-50, but Harris scored on a short bank, Paul Jesperson made a driving layup and Virginia hit 6 of 8 free throws before P.J. Hairston scored again for North Carolina, making a free throw with 20 seconds left.

North Carolina scored on its first four possessions of the second half, and Bullock's 3-pointer capped a 9-2 run that gave the Tar Heels a 34-26 lead. After an exchange of baskets, Harris came free for a wide-open 3-pointer, sparking a 10-0 run for Virginia, and when Evan Nolte soon followed with back-to-back 3-pointers, Virginia's lead was 46-40 and the Tar Heels never quite caught up again.

The game marked the return of Virginia captain and point guard Jontel Evans, who had missed nine of the first 13 games with a foot injury. Teven Jones started in his place and made two early 3-pointers as Virginia hit four of its first five baskets from behind the arc, and Evans played in short bursts.

He finished with eight points and six assists, and had a steadying influence.

North Carolina led 25-24 after a very physical, but bizarre first half. Neither team led by more than five, and the Cavaliers were whistled for seven personal fouls before the Tar Heels got their first.

Once North Carolina got called for one, five more quickly followed, to the delight of a near-sellout crowd, but the Tar Heels finished 7-for-12 from the line, the Cavaliers 2-for-4.

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Morning tip: John Wall balances taking what's given and forcing the issue

Morning tip: John Wall balances taking what's given and forcing the issue

Ideally, this is how the Wizards prefer to play. One game, like the previous win over the Denver Nuggets, Bradley Beal carries a lion's share of the load. The next game, such as Saturday's 110-105 win vs. the Milwaukee Bucks, it's John Wall taking the lead. 

That balance opens up all sorts of other possiblities for teammates, too, such as Kelly Oubre (career-high 19 points) and Markieff Morris (15 points). Beal (20 points, six assists) scored 16 of his in the first three quarters. Wall finished it.

The Bucks are long everywhere, and to offset those advantages Wall had to push the tempo even off makes by not allowing them to set their defense. Even when he met resistance trying to turn the corner, he kept his dribble alive and forced the issue. When they trapped, he accepted it and got rid of the ball early. He combined with Beal for 17 assists.

"We kind of knew that," Wall said of the aggressive way in which Milwaukee covered the pick-and-roll and gave up the dive to the basket by the screen-setter. "They're a great defensive team and they use their length a lot. Knowing them in the past, on the pick-and-roll we get it to our big most of the time."

Wall had two bad passes that were turnovers in the middle of the fourth as the Wizards (9-13) were trying to erase a deficit. But he had two drives for layups, the second past Greg Monroe which gave them a 101-100 lead they'd never relinquish with 3:03 left. That negated the Bucks' length and neturalized their shot-blocking ability. 

The Wizards actually had one more shot block in the game with four. 

Beal closed out quarters Wednesday in a 92-85 win vs. Denver. Wall, who had a favorable matchup with Matthew Dellavedova, did most of the work in this one. Both were 7-for-8 from the line as the Wizards were plus-10 in makes.

The decision-making and IQ plays down the stretch, a problem for the Wizards just a week or two ago, were much better. Wall finished with his 12th double-double of the season with 24 points and a game-high 11 assists.

"Their best player had the ball in his hands and he made plays," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said of Wall. "It was getting to the basket or free-throw line. It was finding guys."

[RELATED: Kelly Oubre breaks out for Wizards against Bucks]

 

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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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