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Georgia Tech hands UVA rare loss in conference play

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Georgia Tech hands UVA rare loss in conference play

ATLANTA (AP) -- Malcolm Brogdon hopes Virginia accepts coach Tony Bennett's challenge to his players.

"We've got to find five guys who want to come out and play hard every night," Brogdon said, "regardless if we're at home or on a visiting court."

Brogdon scored 19 points and London Perrantes added 13, but their efforts weren't enough to keep No. 4 Virginia from losing 68-64 to Georgia Tech on Saturday.

The loss was a rare second in a row for Virginia (12-3, 1-2), matching its league loss total of each of the last two years when it won consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season titles.

"Just the play on the glass, the struggling -- it's a fine line," Bennett said. "Maybe the players will believe me and maybe when I say it, some who don't believe me will, but it is a fine line between successful and being not successful."

Quinton Stephens, Adam Smith and Nick Jacobs each scored 16 points and Georgia Tech won its biggest ACC game under fifth-year coach Brian Gregory. The Yellow Jackets (11-5, 1-2) got four 3-pointers apiece from Stephens and Smith.

Virginia has dropped two straight in the ACC for the first time since it lost at Boston College and Florida State in March 2013. The Cavaliers' loss at Virginia Tech on Monday snapped a seven-game winning streak in that series.

"We just couldn't get the stops on the defensive end," Brogdon said. "Stephens hit a couple of big 3s down the stretch."

Gregory, whose job was in danger when last season ended, began the game just 19-53 in league play, but he watched his team take a 15-point lead late in the first half before Marial Shayok's 3 forced a 49-all tie with 6:09 remaining.

The Jackets stayed calm, though, going on an 11-0 run to put the game out of reach on two 3s by Stephens and one by Smith.

"We expected to win, but we're not going to downplay it," Stephens said. "This was a huge win for us."

Georgia Tech ended a seven-game skid in league play, while Virginia never led after Stephens' 3 made it 7-6.

Bennett isn't sure what kind of approach he will take with his team early next week, but he definitely plans to address the dropoff.

"I don't know," he said. "We're in for a fight. We've got to improve."

TIP-INS

Virginia: The Cavaliers had won three straight and eight of nine against Georgia Tech. ... Virginia began the game shooting 57.6 percent in the second half this season, but they missed 18 times from the field to finish the second 20 minutes at 41.4.

Bennett started 7-foot, 260-pound C Mike Tobey instead of Isaiah Wilkins to get an edge on the boards. Tobey finished with seven points and seven rebounds. ... Wilkins, at 6-7, 230, had a big putback to cut the lead to 49-46. ... Shayok started instead of Darius Thompson and had six points.

Georgia Tech: G Marcus Georges-Hunt, the team's leading scorer this season, finished with five points on 1 for 6 shooting. ... Stephens made his first start of the season as Josh Heath came off the bench. Gregory also started F James White for just the third start of the season with Jacobs working as a reserve. White had a game-high nine rebounds.

The Jackets have outrebounded 13 opponents. ... Charles Mitchell, the ACC's leading rebounder, had an offensive board and a putback to make it 45-36, but he finished with just six points and six boards.

UP NEXT

Virginia: hosts No. 12 Miami on Tuesday.

Georgia Tech: visits Notre Dame on Wednesday.

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Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice

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USA TODAY Sports

Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice

After two games, it looks like Michal Kempny is already moving up in the lineup.

At Sunday’s practice, Kempny played on the team's second defensive pairing, lining up on the left of John Carlson. Previously, the Czech defenseman had been playing on the right of Brooks Orpik. The move to the left allows him to play on his natural side as he is a left-handed shot.

Here are the pairs from Sunday’s practice:

Dmitry Orlov – Matt Niskanen
Michal Kempny – John Carlson
Brooks Orpik – Christian Djoos
Jakub Jerabek – Madison Bowey

Acquired on Monday from the Chicago Blackhawks, Kempny has played in two games for the Capitals and has received glowing reviews thus far.

“He's a really good pro, that's what sticks out,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He takes care of himself, he works at his game off the ice and with the guys, he has fit in very well.”

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“I've gotten to play a little bit with [Kempny] the last couple games,” Brooks Orpik said. “I think he's a guy that, he moves pretty well and he moves the puck pretty well and likes to keep things pretty simple. He's very consistent and predictable so he's very easy to play with.”

When the Capitals first acquired Kempny, it seemed like the best fit for him would be alongside Carlson. It’s a natural fit with Kempny being a left-shot and Carlson a righty. It also bumps down Christian Djoos to a third-pair role which is preferable to having a rookie in the top-four come the playoffs.

Should Kempny play well with Carlson, that would likely solidify Washington’s top two pairs. The Orlov-Niskanen pair was not going to be changed and Carlson was going to be on the second pair. The only question was who would ultimately play with him in the postseason?

The third pair, however, remains a work in progress.

The Caps will have to wait at least another day for the debut of their second recent acquisition as Jakub Jerabek cannot yet play due to visa issues and will miss Monday's game, reports Isabelle Khurshudyan.

Considering the issues Washington has had on defense, they would not have brought in another defenseman just to be a healthy scratch. He will get his shot to earn a spot in the lineup.

With two new defensemen in tow, obviously the team will need to experiment over the next few days and weeks to find the right combinations.

“We're going to have to probably spend at least the next 10 to 12 games doing that and then we'll have to sort of settle in,” Trotz said. “With eight defenseman, you sort of want to see which guys you’re going to play and who to play as partners and sort of a little bit of ranking. If someone goes down, who's filling that extra role?”

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2018 Big South Tournament Bracket, How to watch, Dates, Preview, Location

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2018 Big South Tournament Bracket, How to watch, Dates, Preview, Location

The Big South conference had a surprising start to their league play this year with preseason favorites UNC-Asheville and Winthrop losing two of their first three games.  Since, things have settled down in the Big South with those two squads separating themselves from the pack late in the season.

This 2017-18 season, the Big South is a single bid conference but does have opportunities to get a couple of teams into the NIT. Depending on how this tournament plays out, there may be two or three teams in the second biggest tournament in the country.

READ MORE: NCAA TOURNAMENT BUBBLE WATCH

Like always the tournament will be hosted at multiple sites. The first round will be on campus-sites with the No.7 and No. 8 teams hosting their respective games. From there, the remaining teams will head to Asheville, NC for two rounds as the Bulldogs earned the No. 1 seed. The highest remaining team will then host the championship game.

Home-court advantage will clearly be a factor for which ever team hosts, but it has also been a theme of the Big South. Combined, the entire conference is 88-38 at their home court. Only Liberty has a winning record on the road at 5-4. The host of the quarterfinals and semifinals, UNC-Asheville, is 13-1 at Kimmel Arena. The lone loss being against Liberty.

Only one year in this format, Winthrop won the championship in 2016-17 as the hosts.

TOURNAMENT INFORMATION:

When is the Big South Tournament?

The Big South Tournament will be Tues. Feb 27, March 1-2, and the Big South championship is on March 4.

Where is the Big South Tournament?
The Big South tournament will primarily be hosted at Kimmel Arena in Asheville, North Carolina. The higher seeds will host the first round match-ups. The Big South Championship will also be at the highest seed’s home court.

How to watch the Big South Tournament?

The Big South Tournament will be televised as a part of ESPN’s family of networks, excluding the first round. The first round can be seen on the Big South Network, the quarterfinals and semifinals will be streamed on ESPN3, and ESPN will televise the Big South Championship.

Who is the defending Big South Champion?

The Winthrop Eagles won the 2016-17 Big South Championship after hosting the main portion of the tournament. It was the Eagles 11th Big South Championship in their history, the most ever in the Big South.

2018 BIG SOUTH TOURNAMENT BRACKET:

First Round – Tuesday, Feb. 27

No. 9 Presbyterian at No. 8 Charleston Southern 7:00 pm (Big South Network/ Roku)
No. 10 Longwood at No. 7 High Point                     7:00 pm (Big South Network/ Roku)

Quarterfinals - Thursday, March 1

7/10 Winner vs. No. 2 Radford                     1:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
No. 6 Gardner-Webb vs. No. 3 Winthrop   3:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
8/9 Winner at No. 1 UNC Asheville              7:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
No. 5 Liberty vs. No. 4 Campbell                  9:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)

Semifinals - Friday, March 2

TBD vs. TBD                          6:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
TBD vs. TBD                          8:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)

Big South Championship - Sunday, March 4

TBD vs. TBD                          1:00pm, higher seed host (ESPN)

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PREVIEW:

Even as the No. 3 seed and losers of their last two games, Winthrop is probably still the favorite heading into the tournament. Their offense is one of the highest scoring in all of college basketball (80.7 ppg), with Xavier Cooks scoring 17.6 ppg (3rd in Big South). However, the Eagles’ offense is not powered entirely behind three-point shooting, it is done with balance on both sides of the ball. They have the best two-point shooting percentage in the league (47.3 percent), lead the Big South in rebounding averages, blocks, and field goal defense. In addition, their guards’ three point shooting ability is pretty good too at 37.5 percent and making 9.5 deep balls a game.

However, when they go quiet from long range or another team matches their three-point shooting for a contest, they are susceptible. Also as defending champs, they have been here before and are motivated to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

As the Big South tournament hosts, UNC Asheville will have a leg up on the competition, but they have not been as dominant as a top seed should be. The Bulldogs are one of the most consistent teams in the conference with all five starters scoring in double figures each game. If one is betting, they are the safe bet to win it all based on what is mentioned above.

While Radford was a pleasant surprise throughout league play, do not anticipate that they will be a contender. They are eighth in scoring in the conference (68.2) and around the same mark when it comes to shooting. Their defense has bailed them out as probably one of the top defensive units in the league, but their leading scorer is a post player, Ed Polite Jr.  (13.6 ppg) and if shut down in the paint, there is no offense.

Liberty is the darkhorse in the Big South Tournament. The do boast the best defensive numbers in the conference (64.0 points against per game) and have a high-powered offense, although it is spotty.  Two players are shooting well above 40 percent or better from behind the arc. Dominating the boards, they limit other team’s second chance opportunities. Do not bet against the Flames in a one-on-one contest.

PICK: No. 3 Winthrop