UVa. can't get it done against UNC

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UVa. can't get it done against UNC

By HANK KURZ Jr., AP Sports Writer

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Bryn Renner threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter after a goal-line stand preserved North Carolina's lead and the Tar Heels ended Virginia's postseason hopes with a 37-13 victory Thursday night.

The Tar Heels (7-4, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) were hanging onto a 20-13 lead when they stopped Kevin Parks for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-goal from the 1. They then drove 97 yards in 12 plays, Renner capping the march with a 23-yard pass to a wide open Giovani Bernard over the middle for the TD.

A 5-yard completion to Erik Highsmith on fourth-and-2 came on the play just before the touchdown pass, and after Virginia (4-7, 2-5) was forced to punt on the ensuing possession, Renner's 20-yard TD pass to Highsmith finished it.

The Cavaliers had won two in a row and were hoping to win two more to qualify for a bowl game. They shut down Bernard, the ACC's runaway rushing leader, but were picked apart by Renner's precise passing.

He finished 29 for 36 for 315 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite target on the night was freshman Quinshad Davis, who caught 15 passes, one shy of the school record, for 174 yards.

The game looked as if it might become a classic in the oldest rivalry in the south, then turned quickly when the same North Carolina defense that allowed 68 points to Georgia Tech last Saturday made a huge play.

The Cavaliers drove to a first-and-goal at the Tar Heels 8. A draw play by Michael Rocco gained 5 on first down, and runs by Perry Jones and Kevin Parks gained a yard each. But on fourth-and-goal from the 1, Parks was thrown for a 2-yard loss.

The Tar Heels followed with their big drive and, when Darius Jennings got behind the secondary and Phillips Sims floated a certain 81-yard touchdown pass into his hands on third-and-13, Jennings juggled and dropped it. The Cavaliers punted, and five plays later, Renner to Highsmith made it 34-13.

The tandem also teamed up on 9-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring.

The Cavaliers squandered several chances, managing only a field goal after Bernard fumbled a punt at his own 12 and Virginia recovered, and then when they came away with nothing near the goal line.

Virginia trailed 14-3 early but closed to 14-10 on a nifty third-down scramble by Sims, who avoided a sack, rolled right and found Jennings in the end zone from 9 yards out. Sims also had a 13-yard run on third-and-9 at the start of the drive, and Parks powered for a yard to convert on fourth-and-1.

The Tar Heels answered by driving to the Cavaliers 15, where Renner was sacked by Brent Urban for an 8-yard loss on third-and-13. Thomas Moore tried a 40-yard field goal, but missed wide right.

Sims' lone series had produced Virginia's lone touchdown to that point, but in Virginia's quarterback rotation that coach Mike London described this week as "random," the coaches sent Rocco back out for the next series, and his first pass was picked off by Tre Boston, who returned it 36 yards for a touchdown.

The Tar Heels' first two touchdowns came as Renner picked apart a defense geared to stop the run.

He hit Davis for 25, 10 and 20 yards in a 91-play drive that ended with his 9-yard touchdown pass to Highsmith, and he hit Davis for 32 yards on the next drive. Davis also drew a 15-yard pass interference call when cornerback Demetrious Nicholson latched onto him from behind on a throw to the end zone.

That set up North Carolina at 3, and A.J. Blue ran it in on the next play.

Renner was 19 for 23 in the half for 201 yards, and Davis had 10 catches for 130 yards.

Career-best night from Marial Shayok leads No. 16 Virginia past Georgia Tech

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Career-best night from Marial Shayok leads No. 16 Virginia past Georgia Tech

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Marial Shayok is emerging as the scorer Virginia so badly needs, and making his elevation to the starting lineup look brilliant.

Shayok had a career-best 19 points, the third time in four games he has set or tied his career high, and No. 16 Virginia used a 22-7 run spanning halftime to beat Georgia Tech 62-49 on Saturday.

"Today the guys were finding me and I was just catching and shooting and the ball was going in," Shayok said.

In his first start four games ago, he scored 17 points. He matched it the next game, and then set a new high on 6-for-9 shooting against the Yellow Jackets.

"He's wired to score," coach Tony Bennett said. "He can play off the bounce."

London Perrantes added 11 points, all in the first 7 minutes, for the Cavaliers (15-3, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), Devon Hall had 10 and Jack Salt had five points, six rebounds, a steal, a block and played harassing defense on Georgia Tech scoring leader Ben Lammers.

"There were a few story lines but I don't think there were any bigger than how Jack impacted the game," Bennett said after Lammers was 3 for 12 and scored seven points, less than half his 14.9 average. "Jack was just there. He was a presence."

The victory was the fourth straight for Virginia.

Josh Okogie led the Yellow Jackets (11-8, 3-4) with 14 points, all but one in the first half, and fellow freshman Justin Moore had 10.

The Yellow Jackets pulled within 29-28 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the first half, but Virginia scored the last six points of the half and started the second half with a 16-7 run to lead 51-35 with under 10 minutes to play.

"We've been pretty good at answering runs, but we didn't answer that one," first-year coach Josh Pastner said

Six DMV teams featured in Joe Lunardi's latest bracketology

Six DMV teams featured in Joe Lunardi's latest bracketology

BY TYLER BYRUM

Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Maryland are no brainers that if they keep up the pace that each team is on, they will be dancing in the NCAA tournament come March. In Joe Lunardi's latest bracketology (released on Jan. 19), he has also included three other DMV teams, two hailing from the Atlantic 10, Richmond and VCU, and Morgan State

All six are contenders for their respective conference championship, but according to Lunardi, only Richmond and Morgan State from the list of six would need to win the automatic berth to make the big dance. Every team has a different reason to be in the tournament and it is looking more likely than not that at least five of these teams will be able to maintain their standing. 

If all six can make it another month an a half, it will surpass last season's four teams (Maryland, VCU, Virginia, and Hampton) to make the tournament.

Virginia (#4 seed, ACC):

The Cavaliers (14-3, 4-2) not only have the benefit of being in the best conference in college basketball, but also have made quite a name for themselves the past handful of seasons. With no losses to sub-50 RPI teams, No. 16 Virginia is a near lock to be in the NCAA tournament, barring a huge end of season collapse. In the ACC, they sit at fourth in the conference standings, where it is anticipated that a total of 11 teams in that conference will be in the tournament.

Maryland (#7 seed, Big Ten): 

Quietly the No. 25 Terrapins are becoming one of the best team's in the country after there was some skepticism to start the season. Maryland (16-2, 4-1) has taken advantage of their moderate schedule and has seven top-100 RPI wins, but so far lack the signature win that solidly puts the team in the tournament. Next week the team will get into the heat of conference play where for the remainder of the season will have home and aways against Minnesota, Ohio State, and road games in Wisconsin and Northwestern. A key for the Terps going forward will to continue to win the games they are supposed to win and hopefully squeak one out against the aforementioned teams. 

Virginia Tech (#10 seed, ACC):

Another benefactor of the dominant ACC, Virginia Tech appears to be on track for their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2007 when they lost in the second round. Winning all the games the Hokies (14-4, 3-3) were supposed to win in the first half of the season, and then pulling out a shocker at home against then No. 5 Duke, Virginia Tech is looking solid at this point in the season. The team still has a loaded ACC schedule to get through, including two games against Virginia and a road trip to Chapel Hill, but if the team can finish at or above .500 in conference play they should remain in. Enough has been done early on to prove the team's worth. 

Richmond (#14 seed, Atlantic 10):

The Spiders (11-6, 5-0) do not have a strong at-large resume. Earlier in the year the team had a terrible loss to Oral Roberts, currently at 228 in the national RPI, and did not get a big win to combat the loss. In fact the program's best out-of-conference win this season was over Boston College, which stands at a 165 RPI. Since though, the team has gotten hot in Atlantic 10 play winning five straight and four of those wins being their best on the season. The team does not necessarily have to win the conference championship to make the tournament, but need to continue their stretch in conference and get a couple wins against the top teams, Dayton, Rhode Island, and VCU. 

VCU (#11 seed, Atlantic 10):

Listed as on of the 'last four in,' VCU (14-5, 4-2) took a big hit in their NCAA aspirations after a devastating buzzer-beater loss to Fordham on Wednesday. Their best win is at home against Middle Tennessee, but fell short against Baylor, Illinois, and Georgia Tech to gather another strong victory. Last week the team was looking like a near lock to the big dance, but back-to-back sub-100 RPI losses has the team's outlook for the rest of the season uncertain. If the Rams can avoid anymore upsets, they should remain on the good side of the bubble at the end of the year.

Morgan State (#16 seed, MEAC):

There is no possible way for the Bears (7-10, 4-0) to make it without winning the MEAC championship and even that will be a tall task for this team. From their undefeated conference record, none of the wins came against one of the conference's top five programs. It does not appear likely they will still be on this list a week from now, but a team to keep an eye one once the conference tournament comes around for an automatic berth.

Other possible tournament teams:

From an at-large bid perspective, no other team's in Virginia, Maryland, or Washington D.C. are within striking range. With the strength of their respective conferences, George Washington, Georgetown, and George Mason have outside shots if they were to run the table, or come close to it, and get in the bubble conversation. For all teams though, that seems highly unlikely.

Two other schools have the best chance of making the list seven or eight teams with UMBC and Old Dominion possibly winning their conference championship, the America East, and Conference USA respectively.

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