Mason, UVA battle for tempo in Commonwealth clash


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.

College Football Playoff projections: Ohio State still controls its own destiny


College Football Playoff projections: Ohio State still controls its own destiny

No longer among the ranks of the unbeatens, Ohio State’s playoff chances certainly took a hit Saturday with their loss to Penn State.

But let’s not start digging their grave just yet.

Michigan now sits atop the Big Ten East standings, but they still have to finish the season with the big game against the Buckeyes. And it’s at Ohio State.


The truth is, if the Buckeyes win out, they still will win the Big Ten East and will have a chance to play (likely) either Nebraska or Wisconsin for the conference championship.

Will the committee really leave a one-loss Big Ten champion out of the playoff? Perhaps, if either Baylor or West Virginia remain undefeated, but if the winner of the Big 12 has at least one loss, it’s hard to see how either team would get in over Ohio State.

Again, assuming they win out, the Buckeyes will have beaten Oklahoma in Norman, Wisconsin in Madison, Nebraska, Michigan and the Big Ten West winner. Neither Baylor or West Virginia can match that resume.

So let’s not declare Ohio State’s playoff hopes done just yet. Their biggest challenge is likely rival Michigan, and the Wolverines have to travel to Columbus. That’s a very tough place to play, especially if you’re wearing maize and blue.

Will the Buckeyes ultimately reach the playoff despite their loss to Penn State? Who else will join them? Found out here in this week’s updated College Football Playoff projections.

Worth accounts for 5 TDs as No. 24 Navy beats Memphis

USA Today Sports

Worth accounts for 5 TDs as No. 24 Navy beats Memphis

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Will Worth and No. 24 Navy played keep-away with Memphis while running the Tigers into the ground.

Worth rushed for a career-high 201 yards and three touchdowns, and the Midshipmen put on a dazzling display of ball control in a 42-28 victory Saturday.

In addition to operating the triple option in near-flawless fashion, Worth completed three of four passes for 85 yards and two scores.

"We take what we can get, and today, the quarterback run game was there," Worth said. "We could manage that and set up a couple of pass plays to be able to score through the air. It's just executing the game plan."

The last Navy player to reach the 200-yard mark on the ground was Keenan Reynolds in 2014.

Worth carried 31 times and orchestrated an attack that held the ball for nearly 40 minutes. That left high-scoring Memphis little time to counter-punch.

"It was kind of hard because we weren't doing a great job of getting off the field defensively," Tigers coach Mike Norvell said. "Offensively, it's hard to be in rhythm, it's hard to stay in rhythm."

The Midshipmen (5-1, 4-0 American Athletic Conference) gained a season-high 447 yards on the ground, averaging 6 yards per carry.

The victory put Navy in sole possession of first place in the AAC West and served as a suitable encore for its 46-40 upset of defending league champion Houston two weeks ago.

Navy's 14-game home winning streak is its longest at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium since the facility opened in 1959.

Tony Pollard returned a kickoff 100 yards and Riley Ferguson completed 25 of 40 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns for Memphis (5-2, 2-1). But the Tigers simply couldn't score enough to offset the damage inflicted by Navy's sensational running attack.

"They kind of got after us up front and we had a couple of assignment issues," Norvell said. "But I just thought they did a great job executing."

Worth's second touchdown run put Navy ahead 28-14 early in the third quarter. Memphis responded with a 9-yard TD pass from Furguson to Daniel Hurd.

As the clock wound down in the third quarter, Navy faced a fourth-and-4 at the Memphis 18. Norvell called a timeout, forcing the Midshipmen to deal with the possibility of a field goal try into a stiff wind. Instead, Navy sent its offense on the field and went up 35-21 on a touchdown pass from Worth to Tyler Carmona .

After Memphis again got within a touchdown, a 52-yard completion by Worth led to a 32-yard field goal try by Bennett Moehring. The kick clanged off the left upright with 5:40 to go.

But a fumble by Tigers wide receiver Roderick Proctor was recovered by Navy with 3:39 remaining, and Worth clinched it with a 1-yard plunge.

Worth, a 6-foot-1 senior, started the season as a second-string quarterback but was elevated to starting status after Tago Smith injured his right knee in the opener.

"Here's a kid who was a backup, kept his mouth quiet," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "Now he's doing great things."


Memphis forced 18 turnovers in its first six games, but the only one it got Saturday was when Worth hit the pylon trying to score a touchdown and lost control of the ball. The result was a touchback for the Tigers, whose lone turnover -- Proctor's fumble -- was far most costly.


Memphis: The Tigers came in as a slight favorite because their offense hadn't scored fewer than 24 points in any game. But the defense wasn't up for the challenge of Navy's running attack, and now Memphis needs help to get to the AAC title game.

Navy: The Midshipmen have proven they don't need Reynolds at quarterback to make the triple option sing. Navy's running game is tricky, shifty and just about unstoppable for teams not accustomed to chasing the quarterback, fullback and slotback all over the field.


Memphis: The Tigers host Tulsa next Saturday night at the Liberty Bowl.

Navy: The Midshipmen face AAC East Division co-leader South Florida (6-2, 3-1) on the road Friday night.