NCAA

Benkert's 3 TD passes lead Virginia past Duke for comeback win

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USA Today Sports

Benkert's 3 TD passes lead Virginia past Duke for comeback win

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- There was adversity aplenty for Virginia in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener against Duke.

Kurt Benkert threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown in a miserable first quarter for him. The Cavaliers' offense couldn't get going against an aggressive defensive front for the Blue Devils. And Duke went ahead late in the second quarter, 14-7.

But unlike recent Virginia teams, the Cavaliers bounced back and won 28-21 on Saturday. Benkert threw three touchdown passes as they reeled of 21 straight points, the defense held Duke to 255 yards and made a stand in the closing minutes to finish off their third consecutive victory Saturday.

"Our offense made timely plays, we made timely stops," senior linebacker Micah Kiser said. "That's why we won it."

Sophomore wide receiver Joe Reed, whose first season ended with a 2-10 record, was a bit more excited.

"We feel like we have the whole season in front of us," he said. "We feel like nobody can beat us, just positivity all around."

Benkert settled down after Jeremy McDuffie intercepted him and returned it 42 yards. A big part of why was that Virginia, whose offensive line was not giving the quarterback time against an aggressive and effective pass rush, went to a short passing game.

"I think it helps a lot when we get the ball out quick because it tires those guys down," he said of the defense.

The Cavaliers (4-1, 1-0) also continued their best start since the 2007 team started 7-1.

Duke's Daniel Jones, meanwhile, had his second consecutive brutal effort against the Cavaliers for Duke (4-2, 0-2). The quarterback, who threw five interceptions and fumbled once in a 34-20 loss last year, completed 14 of 42 passes for 124 yards and two more interceptions.

"I think it comes down to us, and us being able to execute," Jones, who also rushed for 36 yards on nine tries, said. "It shouldn't be about the (opposing) defense, and that is not to say that I don't give them credit, but we have got to do a better job of executing."

Quin Blanding returned Jones' first interception, off a deflection, 58 yards for a touchdown, the first of his career. It gave Virginia a 7-0 lead after just 4:52, but McDuffie's pick-6 11 minutes later drew Duke even in a first quarter in which the teams combined for 37 yards.

"The story was pretty simple," Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. "We have issues in the passing game. It has somewhat disappeared. When we are open, we are missing them. When we hit them, there are some dropped. It's just malfunctioning."

Benkert finished 24 of 43 for 182 yards. He hit Olamide Zaccheaus for an 11-yard score 45 seconds before halftime to make it 14-14, and gave the Cavaliers a 28-14 lead with touchdown passes of 5 and 17 yards to Doni Dowling, the latter with 7:08 remaining.

The Blue Devils drove into Virginia territory on their final possession with Jones completing four consecutive passes, but sacks by Chris Peace early in the drive and freshman linebacker Chris Snowden -- on only his second play in the game -- slowed the drive, and two incompletions turned the ball back to Virginia.

Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

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Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

PITTSBURGH -- No. 1 Virginia allowed just seven points in the first half and secured the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title outright with a 66-37 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Freshman guard De'Andre Hunter came off the bench to lead the Cavaliers (26-2, 14-1 ACC) with 14 points in a game that didn't take big offensive efforts from Virginia's regulars. Of the five starters, only guard Ty Jerome exceeded his season average with 13 points.

The game was never competitive, as Virginia started on an 8-0 run and Pitt didn't make a field goal until Jared Wilson-Frame hit a 3-pointer at the midway point of the first half.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett rested most of his regulars in the second half. Reserve Nigel Johnson added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

Parker Stewart led Pitt (8-22, 0-17) with 12 points, all on 3-pointers. Pitt had next to no presence inside. The Panthers were outscored 28-8 in the paint and out-rebounded 36-24. Seven of Pitt's 11 made field goals were from beyond the arc.

Report: Former Terp Diamond Stone included in federal documents detailing NCAA violations

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USA Today Sports

Report: Former Terp Diamond Stone included in federal documents detailing NCAA violations

A bombshell article published Friday morning by Pat Forde and Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports details potential NCAA violations involving more than 20 schools and 25 players.

Several of the biggest names and programs in college basketball were referenced in the Yahoo! report, including former Maryland Terrapin, Diamond Stone.

According to documents and bank records that are part of an FBI investigation, Stone received $14,303 while a freshman at Maryland, a clear violation of NCAA rules. 

Former NBA agent Andy Miller of ASM Sports was the primary handler dishing out incentives, which included cash advances, entertainment expenses and travel expenses for high school and college prospects.

Other players referenced in the documents include Dennis Smith who played at North Carolina State, Isaiah Whitehead from Seton Hall, DeMatha star Markelle Fultz who played at Washington and Edrice "Bam" Adebayo who went on to play at Kentucky. 

Player's and their families from Duke, Michigan State, USC, North Carolina, Texas and Alabama were also included.

Stone played for the Terps during the 2015-16 season before declaring for the 2016 NBA Draft. He was selected 40th overall by the New Orleans Pelicans and traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. 

RELATED: DIAMOND STONE ADMITS TO 'MISTAKES' DURING FRESHMAN YEAR AT MARYLAND

Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon postponed Friday morning's media availability, but he did release the following statement through the school.

"Late last night we were alerted of a report associating one of our former student-athletes with an agent. We are extremely disappointed, and we will fully cooperate with any investigation. I do not have a relationship with Andy Miller or anyone from his agency, and at no time have I ever had a conversation with Andy Miller or his agency regarding any Maryland basketball player. We remain steadfast in upholding a program of integrity that reflects the values of our University community."

Stone did end up signing with a different agency.

While this is still under investigation, large consequences for the NCAA can be expected.

The NCAA also released a statement following the news. 

These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America. Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules. Following the Southern District of New York's indictments last year, the NCAA Board of Governors and I formed the independent Commission on College Basketball, chaired by Condoleezza Rice, to provide recommendations on how to clean up the sport. With these latest allegations, it's clear this work is more important now than ever. The Board and I are completely committed to making transformational changes to the game and ensuring all involved in college basketball do so with integrity. We also will continue to cooperate with the efforts of federal prosecutors to identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts.