Hoyas down UCLA; face No.1 Indiana next

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Hoyas down UCLA; face No.1 Indiana next

Inconsistent play combined with a missing sense of urgency during season-opening wins over Duquesne and Liberty proved obvious without Georgetown's head coach and players later concurring. Having All-American candidate Otto Porter for only six minutes in one game and out entirely in another did not help. An admitted case off the look ahead's with a matchup against a ranked UCLA on the horizon, also not helpful.

With Porter back and the UCLA contest on the day's agenda, the Hoyas (3-0) performance against the Bruins Monday night went the way of famed wrestler Bret Hart: excellence of execution.

The prize for turning in an impressive 78-70 win in the semifinals of the Legends Classic in Brooklyn? Georgetown faces top-ranked Indiana on Tuesday. Playing in the other semifinals, the Hoosiers, downed Georgia 66-53 despite an off scoring night from National Player of the Year candidate Cody Zeller.

There was little off about Porter and the Hoyas, who led 31-29 at halftime, surged ahead with a 12-0 run opening the second half before putting the game away with another late run in the final minutes. Markel Starks paced four double-digit scorers with 23 points on 9 of 14 shooting, Greg Whittington tallied 13 points with three 3-pointers and the Hoyas shot 54.5 percent from the field.

However, it's no coincidence the stepped up effort followed Porter's return. The 6-foot-8 forward finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, five blocks, three steals and sank both of his 3-point attempts. That's some serious stat stuffing, that's why scouts view the sophomore as a potential lottery pick.

Another dose of hot shooting and do-everything play from Porter and the other Hoyas will be required for the clash against Indiana (4-0). After missing a plethora of 3-pointers early on against Georgia, the Hoosiers found their range, particularly guard Jordan Hulls, who drained 4 of 6 from beyond the arc and finished with 14 points in the 66-53 win over the Bulldogs.

Zeller, considered by many the top returning player in the country, finished with only six points. Don't count on consecutive bad nights offensively for the skilled 7-footer, though the Hoyas have tons of length they can throw at the Player of the Year candidate. Upper Marlboro native Victor Oladipo paced Indiana with 15 points.

Three thoughts heading into tonight's showdown with Indiana, the first meeting between the two traditional basketball powers since the 1979-80 season.

* The Hoyas length, especially when Georgetown coach John Thompson III employs at least four 6-foot-8 players on the court at the same time in his zone defense, can be an intoxicating visual. Though the Hoosiers shot 5 of 16 from beyond the arc versus Georgia, they are knocking down 3's at a 38 percent clip. Winner of this matchup likely wins the game.

*Before Monday night, Starks' career game came last Dec. 28 at then No. 4 Louisville when the then sophomore guard made 7 of 8 shots for a career-high 20 points in a Georgetown win. That player has rarely showed up since. In the following 20 games including the opening two this season, Starks had not topped 11 points. More than simply tallying points, the chatty guard often played with more bark than bite. That led to fewer minutes in spots as last season progressed and raised some concern about the Hoyas backcourt this season considering the youth behind Starks. Against UCLA, the aggressive and confident version showed, one that also finished with a career-high four steals. More of that against Indiana would go a long way toward a Georgetown triumph.

* Effective inside and on the break, Zeller shot 62 percent from the field while averaging 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds last season as a freshman. Mere stats did not define Porter's strong freshman campaign. They won't during his second year on the Hilltop either, they we can already see the numbers growth potential from Georgetown's de facto point guard. While not paired in a direct matchup, no doubt comparisons between the equally instinctive sophomore' become part of the game's backdrop. Giddy up.

Jerod Evans' 4 touchdowns carry Virginia Tech past East Carolina

Jerod Evans' 4 touchdowns carry Virginia Tech past East Carolina

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) -- Jerod Evans said that he needed to clean up some things during Virginia Tech's upcoming off week.

The Hokies' fan base may be wondering what exactly that is. His play so far has been sparkling.

Evans, the Hokies' starting quarterback, threw three touchdown passes and rushed for one to lift Virginia Tech over East Carolina 54-17 on Saturday.

The Hokies (3-1) scored on their final five possessions of the first half, including all four of their second-quarter possessions, to overwhelm East Carolina (2-2) and snap a two-game losing streak to the Pirates.

Evans completed 13 of 20 passes for a career-best 282 yards and rushed for a career-best 97 more. He has thrown at least three touchdown passes in three of the Hokies' first four games and is completing 67 percent of his passes.

"I missed a couple of things here and there," Evans said. "I have a lot of things that I can get better at for sure."

Evans entered the game with an ACC-best 10 touchdown passes this season. Of more importance to Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente, he has thrown just one interception.

"I think he's pretty good," Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said of Evans. "He's been judicious with the ball and he's going to the right place most of the time. He's been pretty efficient."

Following a punt return for a touchdown by Greg Stroman and a touchdown run by Marshawn Williams that gave the Hokies a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, Evans threw touchdown passes of 24 yards to Isaiah Ford, 13 yards to Travon McMillian and 55 yards to Cam Phillips. That final score gave the Hokies a 38-0 halftime lead.

ECU quarterback Philip Nelson had 362 yards passing and two touchdown tosses to Jimmy Williams. The Pirates had 443 yards of offense, but committed three special teams mistakes, fumbled once and were sacked six times.

"We studied the film well and they had a lot of keys when they were sliding the protection," said Ken Ekanem, who had two of the Hokies' six sacks. "We had a lot of indicators and we knew when someone was going to be left one-on-one. We look forward to one-on-one matchups and pride ourselves on winning those. We did a good job of that today."

THE TAKEAWAY

EAST CAROLINA: Coming off a 20-15 loss at South Carolina and playing its third consecutive game against a Power 5 opponent, the Pirates looked a step slow and out of sorts from the opening kick. They went three-and-out on five first-half possessions. The Pirates hope to regroup now that they have finished the non-conference portion of their schedule.

"That was clearly the best football team that we have played," ECU coach Scottie Montgomery said. "The most physical. The biggest. The fastest. The strongest. The smartest. I thought they competed well in their scheme. They played great emotional football. They leaned on their crowd. They played a complete football game -- as complete as it gets."

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies dominated on special teams, scoring three touchdowns as a result of those units. Greg Stroman scored on an 87-yard punt return, and Cam Phillips blocked a punt that led to an Evans touchdown pass to Travon McMillian. A sack of ECU punter Worth Gregory in the fourth quarter led to a 1-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Brenden Motley.

UP NEXT

EAST CAROLINA: The Pirates open AAC play next Saturday with a home game against UCF. ECU blasted the Golden Knights 44-7 last season for their first win in Orlando since 2008.

VIRGINIA TECH: The Hokies are off next week before taking on North Carolina on Oct. 8 and will be looking to avenge last year's 30-27 overtime loss. The Hokies have won nine of the 12 meetings with the Tar Heels since joining the ACC.

Kurt Benkert rescues Virginia against Central Michigan, 49-35

Kurt Benkert rescues Virginia against Central Michigan, 49-35

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Kurt Benkert threw five touchdown passes, the last three after Virginia had squandered all of a 28-0 lead, and the Cavaliers gave coach Bronco Mendenhall his 100th career victory, 49-35 over Central Michigan on Saturday.

Benkert hit Olamide Zaccheaus with a go-ahead 82-yard pass after the Cavaliers defense forced its first punt since the opening quarter. Virginia (1-3) forced another punt, and Benkert hit Albert Reid for a 5-yard touchdown, capping a 73-yard drive. Taquan Mizzell also scored twice for Virginia on runs of 4 and 53 yards.

"That's a happy group of young men in that locker room," Mendenhall said. "I'm certainly not saying we've arrived, but it's a nice start."

The Chippewas (3-1), seeking their first 4-0 start since 1985, scored on four of five possessions after going behind 28-0 less than 20 minutes into the game.

Cooper Rush for 402 yards and two touchdown passes to Corey Willis, including an 85-yarder, and Amari Coleman read a screen pass perfectly and scored on a 47-yard interception return.

Mendenhall, in his first year at Virginia, was 99-43 in 11 seasons at BYU before coming east.

THE TAKEAWAY

Central Michigan: The Chippewas are a confident team, and showed it even when trailing by three touchdowns in a loud stadium. They used timeouts when Virginia had the ball late in the second quarter to stop the clock, and cashed in with two touchdowns in the last 4 1/2 minutes of the half to get within 28-14.

Virginia: Rush picked apart the Virginia secondary, which lost cornerback Juan Thornhill on the first play of the game. The unit also lacks speed and played off the Central Michigan receivers for much of the day, allowing several long completions that produced third-down conversions. Kareem Gibson was a frequent target, but acquitted himself with a fourth-quarter interception to set up an insurance TD.

UP NEXT

Central Michigan: The Chippewas head into Mid-American Conference play at home against Western Michigan.

Virginia: The Cavaliers, losers of 17 in a row on the road, will try to end that skid as they open their Atlantic Coast Conference schedule at Duke.