Mason, UVA battle for tempo in Commonwealth clash

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Mason, UVA battle for tempo in Commonwealth clash

Rather than do a traditional game preview for tonight's George Mason-Virginia matchup tonight at the Patriot Center, we're going notebook style...

*Without suspended center Erik Copes, the Patriots starting five won't look the same against UVA  - or the first three games - as it will the rest of the season. Barring injury setbacks, expect Paul Hewitt to trot out forwards Jonathan Arledge, Anali Okoloji and Johnny Williams with Sherrod Wright and Bryon Allen in the backcourt, the coach told CSNwashington on Thursday.

*As for a specific key to the Commonwealth Clash (catchy, right? Just made it up. Feel free to use it), look no further than the game's pace, which will be dictated on the defensive end. During the preseason, I wrote about Hewitt's desire for a more up-tempo offensive approach this season even though in 2011-12 the Patriots led the CAA in scoring with 70.4 points per game. Those plans will be tested against the half-court loving Cavaliers, who under coach Tony Bennett led the ACC in scoring defense last year, allowing opponents only 54.2 points per game. In last season's meeting in Charlottesville, Virginia did even better, holding George Mason to 48 points in a 20-point win. On the other side, the Patriots defensive designs won't include the shot-blocking Copes. Even with the physical center available in the previous meeting, Virginia shot 60.5 percent from the floor.

"It’s a case of case which team is more effective on the defensive end," Hewitt said. "Tony's teams historically don't give up a lot of points or easy baskets. We have to grind it out."

*So, the Patriots want to push the ball and have the scoreboard humming (or at least be semi-active).That means having a strong traffic cop of a point guard and one that limits turnovers. Allen had his moments during an up-and-down sophomore campaign -- led the team with 123 assists, but also tied Ryan Pearson with a team-high 89 turnovers -- but will need to find a happy medium against the consistently pesky UVA defenders. The good news is that after missing two weeks with what Hewitt called a pulled muscle in his back, Allen has "looked good over last 3-4 days."

*Virginia's starting lineup may include three freshmen, including former Montrose Christian star swingman Justin Anderson, center Mike Tobey and guard Taylor Barnette. The trio would likely join junior forward Akil Mitchell and junior guard Joe Harris, who takes over the scoring burden now that Mike Scott has moved onto the NBA.

"Joe Harris is obviously a terrific player. Terrific scorer, has size." Hewitt said of the 6-foot-6 who averaged 11.3 points and shot 38 percent from 3-point territory last season.

While the Cavaliers frontcourt lacks a scorer like Scott, a prolific double double machine, Hewitt says the unit "is deeper, more athletic."

*Last season Virginia finally made the long climb back to the NCAA Tournament. George Mason most recently reached the ultimate March Madness in 2011 and of course did the Final Four thing in 2006. Part of Hewitt's plan for getting the green and gold back in the field of 68 this season involved beefing up the non-conference schedule. The push starts Friday, for both teams.

"Great opportunity, but here we are here at the start of season, striving for same thing," Hewitt said. "People here remember '06 and '11. That's what were trying to do starting Friday."

*As for the suspensions to Copes and Vaughn Gray, Hewitt offered no specific details. "Student athletes probably today are probably under more scrutiny than in 25 years of coaching," Hewitt said. "Not an excuse, both made mistakes." Hewitt expects to have both plays back for the second round of the Paradise Jam tournament.

Former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer appointed to CFP committee

Former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer appointed to CFP committee

IRVING, Texas – Former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and Robert Morris University President Chris Howard have been added to the College Football Playoff selection committee.

The three new members will begin three-year terms next season. College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock also announced in a statement Tuesday that Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt will return next season as the committee chairman and his term will run through February 2018.

Beamer, Smith and Howard replace Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr. Alvarez and Rice completed three-year terms this past season. Carr resigned from the committee during last season, his first on the panel, because of health issues.

Hancock also announced that the term for former Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson will extend through February 2019.

Beamer retired after the 2015 season, his 29th as Virginia Tech's head coach. He went 238-121-2 with the Hokies and led them to 23 consecutive bowl appearances.

Smith is in his 12th year as athletic director at Ohio State after serving as AD at Arizona State, Eastern Michigan and Iowa State. He also played and coached football for Notre Dame in the 1970s and early 1980s.

The 46-year-old Howard is one of the youngest university presidents in the country. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and former starting running back for the Falcons football team. Howard was a Rhodes scholar, attending Oxford University from 1991-94.

"All three played college football. And they will continue the CFP tradition of committee members with high integrity and a passion for college football," Hancock said in a statement.

RELATED: THE 25 UGLIEST UNIFORMS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Perrantes, No. 19 Virginia roll past Clemson

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Perrantes, No. 19 Virginia roll past Clemson

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Virginia's London Perrantes thought about getting to Clemson a little early. After all, who doesn't love a parade?

"I thought that was cool," Perrantes said of the Clemson's football national championship parade and ceremony Saturday morning. "I wish I got to witness that. It was crazy packed coming in here."

Perrantes put on a show of his own in the game, making four 3-pointers and scoring a season-high 25 points to lead the 19th-ranked Cavaliers to a 77-73 victory against the Tigers.

It was the senior's second straight game with 20-plus points after coach Tony Bennett encouraged him to shoot more often.

"He kind of gave me that confidence to go out and play," Perrantes said.

The Cavaliers (13-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) shot 58 percent from the field in their second straight win since dropping two in a row to Pittsburgh and Florida State. Marial Shayok tied his career high with 17 points, and Isaiah Wilkins finished with eight points and 13 rebounds.

Virginia blew a nine-point lead in the second half, but Perrantes stepped up for the Cavaliers down the stretch. After Clemson tied it at 70 on Jaron Blossomgame's three-point play with 2:18 left, Perrantes made his fourth 3-pointer to put Virginia back in front.

Perrantes pushed the lead to 75-70 with another basket with 41 seconds left, prompting many of the fans to head for the exits.

"When we need him the most he shows up," Shayok said. "When he's rolling, everybody's rolling."

It was a festive day at Clemson (11-6, 1-4), with the school holding a big party to celebrate its first national championship in football in 35 years. But the basketball team dropped its fourth straight game since winning nine in a row.

Blossomgame led the Tigers with 22 points, and Avry Holmes and Gabe DeVoe each scored 15.

"This is our fourth league game that's come down to the last minute and we've only won one," said Brad Brownell, Clemson's seventh-year coach. "That's frustrating for all of us."

The Cavaliers shot 10 for 18 on 3-pointers, just the second time this season they finished with double-digit baskets from behind the arc.