Harris leads Virginia past No. 19 Wolfpack

201301292010726353997-p2.jpeg

Harris leads Virginia past No. 19 Wolfpack

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Joe Harris scored 22 points, seven during a game-ending 13-6 run, and Virginia beat No. 19 North Carolina State 58-55 on Tuesday night, the Cavaliers' fourth straight victory.

Akil Mitchell added 14 points for Virginia (15-5, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), including an 18-foot jumper that put them ahead to stay, as the second-stingiest defense in the country put the clamps on.

North Carolina State (16-5, 5-3), which arrived averaging nearly 80 points per game, became the 17th team, including all seven ACC opponents, to be held under 60 points by Virginia.

C.J. Leslie, playing despite being under the weather, led the Wolfpack with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Richard Howell had 12 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Leslie missed what would have been a tying free throw with 3:20 left, and when Jontel Evans hit two from the line with 26 seconds left, the lead was three. The Wolfpack never got off a good shot in the closing seconds.

The Wolfpack suffered a critical loss midway through the first half when point guard Lorenzo Brown limped off with what appeared to be a left ankle injury. He got medical attention on the bench, went to the locker room, came back and got more attention, but appeared significantly hobbled and didn't return.

Without their floor leader, the Wolfpack looked sloppy at times, especially down the stretch.

After Harris put Virginia ahead 52-49, Leslie hit two free throws. Harris' drive made it 54-51 and Scott Wood's 3-pointer with 4:20 to go tied it.

Mitchell's jumper restored Virginia's lead with 3:53 left, and a free throw by Leslie with 3:20 to go was all the Wolfpack could manage over the last 4 minutes of the game.

Trailing for the first 27 1-2 minutes, Virginia finally went ahead on Mike Tobey's 15-foot jumper with 12:26 to play. The game was tied at 40 and 42 before a dunk by Leslie, Wood's 3-pointer and Howell's drive more than negated Evan Nolte's 3-pointer for Virginia, putting N.C. State ahead 49-45.

But Virginia drew even again with the help of two turnovers as Harris hit two free throws and Tobey scored underneath. Harris got T.J. Warren into the air from the left corner, then jumped and leaned into him, drew the foul and three shots. He made them all, giving Virginia a 52-49 lead.

That set up the finish.

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

usatsi_9827747.jpg
USA TODAY Images

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.

MORE NCAA: Should Georgetown consider letting John Thompson III go?