Miami takes Coastal lead, tops Virginia Tech 30-12

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Miami takes Coastal lead, tops Virginia Tech 30-12

MIAMI (AP) -- Stephen Morris threw for two early touchdowns, both set up by Virginia Tech special-teams miscues, and Miami took a step forward in the chase for the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division title by beating the Hokies 30-12 on Thursday night.

Duke Johnson had a 7-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and finished with 217 all-purpose yards for the Hurricanes (5-4, 4-2), who snapped a three-game slide.

Logan Thomas had a 73-yard scoring run on a quarterback draw for Virginia Tech (4-5, 2-3), which lost to Miami for just the third time in the last 10 meetings. The loss also ensures the Hokies' streak of eight straight 10-win seasons will end this year.

The win puts Miami a half-game ahead of Duke and North Carolina in the Coastal race, though the Tar Heels are ineligible for postseason play, including the ACC title game.

The Hokies and Hurricanes are two of the best teams on Thursday night -- a combined 34-8 record entering the game, Virginia Tech with a 19-5 mark, Miami 15-3.

And the Hokies were 25-2 in ACC games played in November.

Now, they're 25-3, all three losses coming to Miami, and the Hokies had plenty of chances in this one.

Virginia Tech outgained Miami 421-347, ran 82 plays to the Hurricanes' 58, and still lost. A blocked punt led to one Miami touchdown, a big return by Johnson set up another, and that was about all the offense for the Hurricanes.

Somehow, it was pretty much all Miami needed.

Thomas was 19 for 37 for 199 yards and two interceptions for the Hokies, and rushed 22 times for 124 yards. Morris completed 13 of 28 passes for 170 yards.

For years, special teams were an absolute strength of Frank Beamer's teams at Virginia Tech -- so much so, they earned the moniker "Beamer Ball." But on Thursday, not only did the Hokies allow the blocked punt (a play where Virginia Tech's A.J. Hughes mishandled the snap before trying to get the kick away) and an 81-yard return by Johnson, but kicker Cody Journell also missed a field goal and a point-after attempt.

And eventually, Miami broke through.

The Hurricanes failed to convert any of their first nine third-down attempts, but when Morris connected with Rashawn Scott for 26 yards in the fourth quarter, Miami was in business. Five plays later, Johnson plowed just across the goal line, putting Miami -- clad in an all-orange ensemble, a break from the norm -- up by 15.

The first quarter set the tone for everything. Virginia Tech ran 26 plays to Miami's seven, outgained the Hurricanes 129-36 and had its offense was on the field for all but 2:29 of the period -- and trailed 14-3.

Miami's two touchdown drives were a combined 35 yards, lasting four plays. Gabe Terry's blocked punt started a drive that ended with Morris finding Allen Hurns with a 16-yard scoring pass, and the long return by Johnson led to Morris hitting Mike James for another touchdown, also from 16 yards out.

Justin Jackson, North Carolina too much for Virginia

Justin Jackson, North Carolina too much for Virginia

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Justin Jackson scored 20 points to help No. 10 North Carolina beat No. 14 Virginia 65-41 on Saturday night, keeping the Tar Heels alone in first in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Kennedy Meeks had all of his 13 points and seven rebounds after halftime for the Tar Heels (23-5, 11-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). They shot 47 percent and led by double figures nearly all night against the ice-cold Cavaliers.

UNC led 34-22 at halftime, never let Virginia closer than nine then ran off 10 straight points to take a 25-point lead and send the Cavaliers to their first three-game skid in a single season in six years.

Marial Shayok scored 13 points to lead Virginia (18-8, 8-6), who went 10 minutes without a basket at one point during the second half and missed its first 17 3-pointers for the game as the Tar Heels turned it into a rout.

Virginia shot 28 percent for the game and finished at 2 for 20 from 3-point range to go with a season-low point output, with every missed shot becoming magnified as the Tar Heels stayed in attack mode.

It was also was the second-lowest point total by an opponent in UNC's Smith Center, just a basket better than Clemson's 39 points here in 1995.

UNC finished with a 44-26 rebounding advantage, with much of that edge coming after halftime behind Meeks.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers offered up a worst-case scenario Saturday night. If Virginia's defense can't rattle an opponent, the Cavaliers' limited offensive punch gives them little margin for error.

UNC: This was one of several tough games for UNC coming down the regular-season stretch. Winning this rematch of last year's ACC Tournament championship game by a lopsided margin has to be a boost to an already confident team.

UP NEXT

Virginia: The Cavaliers return home Monday night to host Miami.

UNC: The Tar Heels have another big home game, hosting No. 8 Louisville on Wednesday night.

George Mason rallies late but falls to Rhode Island, 77-74

George Mason rallies late but falls to Rhode Island, 77-74

BY TYLER BYRUM

FAIRFAX, VA – Coming down the final seconds of the game, Rhode Island was able to hold off a resilient George Mason squad after blowing an 18-point lead in the second half to win, 77-74.

Stanford Robinson scored a team-high 21 points off the bench in a homecoming affair for the Paul VI Catholic High School graduate. From behind the arc, Robinson was a perfect 3-for-3 and brought down two huge offensive rebounds late in the contest.

In the final minute though, it was Robinson who gave the Patriots hope as he missed two free throws with less than two seconds left in the game.

Grabbing his fifth rebound of the contest to go along with 22 points, Jalen Jenkins threw up a full-court heave that was just a foot wide of the basket. 

From the onset, Rhode Island (17-9, 9-5) had the size advantage but was going against the NCAA’s best rebounding guard, Marquise Moore. Bringing down 31 rebounds, 14 being offensive, the Rams scored 13 pivotal second chance points. Moore, though, would manage to record his 17th double-double of the season (19 points, 10 rebounds). 

This was Moore's fourth straight double-double, which is helping his case as one of the favorites for the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. 

E.C. Matthews was another one of the Rams to rack up the points in EagleBank Arena. With 18 points on 15 shots, Matthews kept the Rams alive after the team allowed the Patriots to go on a 21-3 run.

The Rams consistently shot over the Patriots with five players recording a three-point basket. In the first half, the team shot 54 percent from behind the arc and had rolled to a 39-26 lead at the break.

George Mason (18-9, 8-6) was able to climb back after an insurmountable 18-point deficit minutes into the second half. Highlighting the scoring run, Otis Livingston II (nine points and seven rebounds) was able to hit a fadaway to bring Mason within four and the crowd to their feet.

Throughout the contest, the Patriots drew 23 fouls and made 31 of their 36 free throw attempts. This kept numerous Rams in foul trouble and forced Dan Hurley to go deep into his bench and use 11 players.

“That was one that we needed desperately,” Hurley said “We’ve done a lot of soul searching; we’ve also dealt with a lot this year.”

The victory gives Rhode Island a much-needed win after falling to Fordham 53-43 earlier in the week. Moving up to third place in the Atlantic 10, the Rams now use the momentum from this game in order to climb back in the NCAA tournament bubble.

Falling in this game, George Mason now is on the outside looking in for one of the conference’s coveted double-byes in the conference tournament.