NCAA

UVa outlasts the Tribe: 5 takeaways

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UVa outlasts the Tribe: 5 takeaways

Virginia put the tough loss to Notre Dame behind them on Saturday by earning their first win of the season. The Cavaliers held on for the 35-29 win over William & Mary despite a late surge from the Tribe.

Here are the five big takeaways from the game:

Can't close: Virginia's inability to close cost them against Notre Dame and it almost cost them again against the Tribe.

After going into halftime with a 21-20 lead, UVa looked like they were going to pull away with 14 points in the 3rd quarter. Yet, W&M battled back and Virginia gave them every opportunity to stay in it.

Virginia lead 35-20 at the beginning of the 4th quarter. W&M was stopped on a 4th and 5, but were given a new set of downs after Mike Moore was called for roughing the passer. If not for an outrageously terrible play call on the goal line, that should have resulted in at least three points for the Tribe. On Virginia's next possession, W&M blocked a punt out of the end zone for a safety, then scored a touchdown on the resulting drive. Virginia went three and out, missing an opportunity to kill the clock as the Tribe had no timeouts remaining.

W&M got the ball back with a chance to win it and yet another defensive penalty on fourth down gave the Tribe life as Maurice Canady was nailed for holding. Finally, finally Virginia was able to hold W&M, but they made things very interesting.

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Step back for the defense: A week after holding Notre Dame to only 207 passing yards, you would expect the defense to have no trouble against the Tribe, but that was not the case. W&M managed 226 through the air as the defense sold out to stop the run. Malik Zaire could only manage 115 passing yards and one touchdown on seven completions. Steve Cluley went 23-for-36 for 226 yards and three touchdowns. Even more troubling was the fact that the Tribe scored on each of their first four possessions.

The defense focused on the run as they should have given the tendencies of their opponent. In doing so, however, they were almost beaten by a weak pass attack. That is something the Cavaliers will have to fix.

Matt Johns comes back to Earth: Speaking of taking a step back, Matt Johns was not quite as lights out this week. His stats were not terrible as he was able to complete 17-of-23 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions, one of which was right to the chest of linebacker Josh Dulaney who Johns clearly never saw.

Johns was also helped by Taquan Mizzell who took a screen pass 80 yards for a touchdown. It was a very average day for Johns to say the least. He will have to be better if the 'Hoos hope to reach the six-win plateau.

Special plays from special teams: This game featured two things you rarely see. In the third quarter, Canady returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown. It was the first time Virginia has had a punt returned for a touchdown since 2004.

Later in the third quarter, Ian Frye lined up to kick a 46 yard field goal. Frye's kick went off the left upright, but W&M was called for running into the kicker giving Frye another shot from five yards closer. The normally reliable Frye missed again, however, this time hitting the right upright.

Have you ever seen a kicker miss two-straight field goals by hitting each upright?

Rebound game: It was ugly and way closer than fans had hoped, but this is a very big win for the Cavaliers. Given that this game was sandwiched between the Notre Dame and Boise State matchups and since it came after last week's devastating loss, this was a definite trap game for Virginia. When the Tribe began to battle back, however, the Cavs did not hang their heads or fall apart. They buckled down for the win.

There are far more positives to be gained from an ugly win than there are from a close loss. With their incredibly tough non-conference schedule, UVa was expected to start the season 1-3. Had they lost this game, you could have kissed their chances of reaching a bowl this season goodbye already, just three games in.

This kind of effort won't be enough to beat Boise State or most of the teams remaining on their schedule, but it was a win and for today, that's good enough.

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Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

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USA TODAY Sports

Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

The pieces are starting to come together for Patrick Ewing.

On Monday the Georgetown Hoyas picked up perhaps the biggest (literally and figuratively) target of the transfer market, Omer Yurtseven.

From North Carolina State, the transfer from Istanbul Turkey will have two years remaining of eligibility. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he is not allowed to play for the 2018-19 season.

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Standing at 7-0, the center helped power the Wolfpack to an NCAA tournament bid this past season. Averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a contest, Yurstseven earned All-ACC Third Team honors in the 2017-18 season. He also touted a 58.3 shooting percentage and was not afraid to pull it up from deep either (22 made three-pointers).

NC State lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 8 Seton Hall, but he was limited due to foul trouble with only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes of play.

Initially, he is the option to fill the void that Jessie Govan will leave, whether that is during this offseason or next. Already the team has lost power forward Marcus Derrickson

Yurtseven will just be another frontcourt talent for Ewing with the Hoyas.

It was widely reported that he was considering playing options, both in the United States and abroad before this announcement. Easily he has the talent to go in first round of the NBA Draft whichever year he declares.

On the same day, the Hoyas also announced the signing of four-star guard James Akinjo.

After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year

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USA TODAY Sports

After historic season, Virginia's Tony Bennett named AP Coach of the Year

SAN ANTONIO -- Virginia coach Tony Bennett isn't going to waver from his foundation, whether it's the philosophy that built the Cavaliers into a contender or the big-picture perspective that helps him handle the sting of a historically improbable loss.

Both ends of that approach are fully on display now as he is named The Associated Press men's college basketball coach of the year.

Bennett won the honor Thursday after his Cavaliers set a program single-season record for wins, dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference and reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since the Ralph Sampson era. Yet that wildly successful season ended abruptly in the most unexpected way: with the Cavaliers falling to UMBC to become the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16-seed in NCAA Tournament history.

"They experienced things a lot of guys don't," Bennett said in an interview with the AP. "That kind of success? Oh my gosh. And then that kind of loss? ... But again, their body of work deserves to be celebrated.

"And then so much of what society looks at -- it begs the question -- is it just about how you do in March? Or is it about the whole thing? It's a fair debate (on) what matters. But I told them: I wouldn't trade this team for anything. Even the experiences, as hard as they are, this is part of the process."

Bennett was the runaway winner for the award, which is being presented at the Final Four. He earned 50 of 65 votes from AP Top 25 writers with ballots submitted before the start of the NCAA Tournament.

Tennessee's Rick Barnes was second with five votes after leading the Volunteers to 26 wins and an NCAA bid despite being picked to finish 13th in the 14-team Southeastern Conference. First-year Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann was third with four votes.

This marks the second time Bennett has won the award, the other coming in 2007 when he was at Washington State.

In Bennett's ninth season, the Cavaliers (31-3) went from being picked to finish sixth in the ACC to winning the regular-season race by four games -- the first to win the ACC by that wide a margin since 2000. It then won the ACC Tournament to complete a 20-1 run against league opponents.

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Virginia also reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time since December 1982 and stayed there the final five weeks of the regular season, the last two unanimously.

And yet, the 48-year-old coach knows much of the focus will be on how things ended: that 74-54 loss to the Retrievers while playing without ACC sixth man of the year De'Andre Hunter.

Dealing with a roster of players in pained disbelief, Bennett said he has told them that they have "an unbelievable captive audience" waiting to see how they would handle it.

"I said how you respond to this will matter to your mom and dads, to your brothers, your sisters, your friends," Bennett said. "If they see that you're not fake about it, that yeah, of course you're going to be discouraged and down after a loss like that, but that you're OK. You can live with it.

"I said: you don't know the power that that's going to have in their life and in your life."

Bennett said he appreciated other coaches offering support, which included Syracuse Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim noting: "If I could hire a coach in this country and I could get Tony Bennett, there would be nobody in second place."

He said he's still reviewing what worked and what didn't, but "certainly you don't overreact" by changing everything that had brought the Cavaliers to this point.

This is, after all, a program that has been a 1-seed three times in the past five seasons with three ACC regular-season titles.

And Bennett won't be deterred from chasing more, even if it means stumbling a few more times on the way to reaching his goals.

"You better have something beyond the opinion of man or just how you feel, because this stuff is fleeting," Bennett said.

"So that's where obviously my faith is everything to me. You hear people talk about their faith in the lord and the relationship with the people that they care about, their family and their trusted friends. Those things stand the test of time. And that's what you have to draw from. And then you move on."