Winning memories spur up-tempo VCU against Duke

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Winning memories spur up-tempo VCU against Duke

For many college basketball programs, previous encounters with Duke invoke painful or at least losing memories. Quite the opposite for Virginia Commonwealth - and now the program's current roster has its own opportunity to add a "we beat Duke" chapter to the school's history.

Following Friday's win over No. 19 Memphis, VCU (3-1) faces the fifth ranked Blue Devils (4-0) in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas. Giving Duke's ranking and prestige, this game has the illusion of David vs. Goliath to the uninitiated, but quite the opposite to those aware of previous events.

Over the last two seasons, the Shaka Smart-coached Rams have reached the NCAA Tournament's Final Four and the third round this past March. Since winning the National Championship in 2010, Duke bowed out in the round of 16 in 2011 and last year dropped its opening game against Lehigh.

Last season's loss was the Blue Devils earliest exit since 2007, the year VCU stunned Duke 79-77 for the program's first NCAA Tournament win in 22 seasons. Current Oklahoma City Thunder guard Eric Maynor scored 22 points that day five seasons ago in VCU's only meeting against Duke. His free throw line jumper with a second remaining propelled the Rams to what at the time was the biggest win in the program's history.

In the next battle with Duke, once again it will be VCU's backcourt leading the way. To call the Rams up-tempo would not accurately describe the rapid pace Smart choreographs for his squad, especially on defense. Spearheaded by guards Treveon Graham, Darius Theus, Briante Weber and Rob Brandenberg, VCU's relentless pressure forced 22 turnovers against Memphis, leading to 33 points.

Graham leads the Rams in scoring with 14.5 points, just ahead forward Juvonte Reddic (14.3), the team's top post option. Weber and Theus combine for 5.5 steals per game while the Rams average 9.75 3-pointers per game.

Even though Duke has perimeter threats of its own, including sharpshooter Seth Curry (18.3 ppg), VCU would be wise to keep the tempo moving considering the Blue Devils' interior power. 6-foot-10 Mason Plumlee is averaging 21.3 points while shooting a staggering 71.4 percent from the field. Mason Plumlee. The senior dominated with 20 points and 17 rebounds in Thursday's 89-71 win over Minnesota.

The challenge is not lost on Smart, who will battle coaching wits with Duke's famed leader Mike Krzyzewski for the first time.

"Playing Duke, what an incredible opportunity,'' Smart told the Associated Press "We'll be facing arguably the best program in the nation and with no argument the best coach in the modern era.

"But we won't fold up to the test.''

Tyler Cavanaugh sparks George Washington to 3rd straight win

Tyler Cavanaugh sparks George Washington to 3rd straight win

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Tyler Cavanaugh scored 22 points and sparked a breakaway run in the second half as George Washington defeated George Mason 83-74 on Sunday to pull even with the Patriots in the Atlantic 10 standings.

Cavanaugh has scored 19 or better in the Colonials' last three games, all wins, and has topped 20 points a dozen times this season. Sunday, the senior made 8 of 17 shots, grabbed seven rebounds and had three assists. With the lead at 57-54 and 8:19 to play, Cavanaugh drove for a score that started a 15-9 run over the next 3-1/2 minutes that gave the Colonials some breathing room in a game that saw 10 ties and nine lead changes.

The win lifts George Washington (16-13, 8-8) into a three-way tie for sixth place in the A-10, and owns the tie-breaker over both George Mason (18-11, 8-8) and La Salle.

Marquise Moore led George Mason with 20 points and six assists. Yuta Watanabe scored a season-high 18 and Jaren Sina 16 for George Washington, which had a season-low five turnovers against 17 assists.

MORE NCAA: NO. 2 MARYLAND WOMEN TOP MINNESOTA TO CLINCH 1ST PLACE TIE

No. 24 Terps struggle again at home, fall to unranked Iowa 83-69

No. 24 Terps struggle again at home, fall to unranked Iowa 83-69

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Freshman Jordan Bohannon scored a career-high 24 points, hitting 8 of 10 3-pointers, to help Iowa breeze past fading No. 24 Maryland 83-69 Saturday night.

Tyler Cook had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawkeyes (16-13, 8-8 Big Ten), who improved to 2-7 on the road this season. Iowa led by seven at halftime and erased any shred of suspense by taking a 16-point lead with 10:28 remaining.

The Hawkeyes went 16 for 26 beyond the arc in avenging a home loss to Maryland on Jan. 19.

Bohannon came in averaging 9.2 points per game and shooting 37 percent from 3-point range. Cook, who's also a freshman, scored only eight points in the first meeting between the teams.

Kevin Huerter scored 13 points for Maryland (22-7, 10-6). Since opening 20-2, the Terrapins have lost five of seven and three in a row.

Eager to rebound from a home loss to Minnesota, the Terrapins came out flat against an Iowa team that had beaten only Rutgers on the road.

Maryland's biggest lead was two points, and the Terps never led after relinquishing a 24-23 advantage midway in the first half.

Maryland went 11 for 34 from 3-point range and took only nine free throws.

Cook scored 15 points and Bohannon drilled four 3-pointers to help Iowa take a 47-40 halftime lead.

The Hawkeyes went 8 for 12 from beyond the arc, outrebounded Maryland 20-14 and limited standout guard Melo Trimble to three points on 1-for-5 shooting.

Huerter opened the second half with a 3-pointer to give the crowd hopes of a comeback, but Bohannon nailed three 3s in a 10-1 spurt that made it 58-44.

Trimble finished with 10 points, going 1 for 9 from beyond the arc.