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.''

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.

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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.