NCAA

The VCU-George Mason rivalry is back and it’s beautiful

The VCU-George Mason rivalry is back and it’s beautiful

BY TYLER BYRUM

FAIRFAX, VA -- There was a double dose of Havoc defense in EagleBank Arena on Friday night.  A high-paced contest with 36 turnovers combined, led the fast break Rams to a 73-64 victory over George Mason.

Bodies were flying, fan bases out-shouting each other and the teams on the court played like it was a Lakers-Celtics battle.

Remember the old CAA VCU vs. George Mason matchups? That’s what you got in Fairfax, Virginia to kick off Atlantic 10 conference play.

JeQuan Lewis was the front of the charge with 26 points and was one of three Rams that reached double figures. Mo Allie-Cox was a rebound shy of a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds.

Looking to run the Patriots out of their own building, VCU (11-3, 1-0) pushed the pace early. Off every defensive rebound they pushed the transition, after every basket VCU played with a full court press; Mason simply could not keep up.

Leading to a 13-0 run in the first half, the Rams built a 19-7 advantage that the Patriots would slowly chip away at for the remainder of the first.

Behind a home crowd that George Mason (10-4, 0-1) has not seen in years, Mason made it 36-35 at half.

Combating the Rams size, Mason pounded the paint with bodies, providing their own havoc, and forced the Rams to shoot over them. Focusing on defensive rebounding, Mo Allie-Cox and Justin Tillman were held to only three offensive boards in the first half.

However, there is only one team though that can control the Havoc, and that is VCU.

Keeping the tempo racing, Mason could not keep up with the Rams. Full court pressure limited the Patriots to a shorter shot clock and careless passes gave the Rams 16 points off turnovers. Dominating the paint, 44-32, VCU never allowed the Patriots to take the lead in the second half.

After the Patriots attempted to beat the Rams at their own game, VCU commanded the glass in the second half. Winning the battle of the boards 42-31, against a team that came in with a plus-10 rebounding advantage, limited Mason’s second chance points and kept momentum on the Rams side.

Shutting down the double-double machine in Marquise Moore (10 points, six rebounds), coming in with eight double-doubles on the season, became a pivotal turn for the Rams. The only way to cover Moore is with a quick guard on the outside and an agile big in the paint: Lewis and Allie-Cox.

In the second half he only brought in one board.

VCU jumps to an early lead in the conference standings with them and the Patriots having the best non-conference record in the league.

The rematch will not take place until the end of the season on March 4, but it will surely be one to watch in Richmond.

MORE NCAA HOOPS: THE MATCHUP: VIRGINIA TECH VS. #5 DUKE

UVA's Tomas Woldenstae's game-winner stuns Tar Heels in Chapel Hill

UVA's Tomas Woldenstae's game-winner stuns Tar Heels in Chapel Hill

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Tomas Woldetensae scored 18 points and made the go-ahead 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left to lift Virginia past North Carolina 64-62 on Saturday night.

Mamadi Diakite added 15 points for the Cavaliers (17-7, 9-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won for the fifth time in six games.

Woldetensae's winning shot came after North Carolina's Christian Keeling made three free throws to give the Tar Heels a 62-61 lead with 10.3 seconds left. Keeling had been fouled by Woldetensae while attempting a 3-point shot.

Casey Morsell and Kihei Clark each scored 10 points for Virginia. The Cavaliers won back-to-back games against North Carolina in Chapel Hill for the first time in program history.

Garrison Brooks scored 20 points to lead North Carolina (10-15, 3-11), which lost its fifth consecutive game.

Cole Anthony added 17 points for the Tar Heels, but his half-court heave at the buzzer wasn't close. Keeling scored 11 points.

North Carolina lost despite shooting 50% from the floor against the Cavaliers, who entered the game with the nation's top scoring defense and field-goal percentage defense.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers have returned to their winning ways just in time. Virginia's NCAA Tournament chances were fading a month ago during a three-game losing streak, but the Cavaliers have gone 6-2 while grinding out five wins by five points or fewer since then.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels remained winless in February, starting off their second month in a row with five consecutive defeats. They are one loss away from clinching their first losing record for a regular season since 2001-02.

UP NEXT

Virginia: The Cavaliers host Boston College on Wednesday night, looking to avenge the Eagles' 60-53 win in the teams' first meeting on Jan. 7.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels play Monday night at Notre Dame, which they defeated 76-65 on Nov. 6 in each team's season opener.

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P.J. Horne's career night carries Virginia Tech past Pittsburgh

P.J. Horne's career night carries Virginia Tech past Pittsburgh

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- P.J. Horne scored a career-high 18 points to lift Virginia Tech to a 67-57 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Horne hit 6 of 9 from the floor, including a career-high four 3-pointers for the Hokies (15-10, 6-8 Atlantic Coast Conference), who snapped a five-game losing streak. Jalen Cone added 12 points and four 3-pointers for Virginia Tech, which hit 12 3-pointers in the game.

Au'Diese Toney and Justin Champignie scored 12 points each to lead the Panthers (15-11, 6-9), who lost for the fifth time in the past seven games.

Horne, who came into the game averaging 7.1 points per game, made 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions in the final 3:30 to help the Hokies hold off the Panthers. Virginia Tech led by as many as 19 in the second half before Pittsburgh cut the lead to 59-53 on a layup by Abdoul Karim Coulibaly with 3:21 remaining.

Horne, though, hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 3:06 to go to push the Tech lead to 62-53, and after another Coulibaly layup with 2:51 remaining, Horne connected again, hitting a 3-pointer from the same spot to give the Hokies a 65-55 lead. Pittsburgh got no closer.

Xavier Johnson finished with 11 points for Pittsburgh, which shot just 35% (21 of 60) in losing its fifth straight road game.

BIG PICTURE

Pittsburgh: Securing an NCAA Tournament berth is probably a bit much to ask of this young squad, but an NIT bid is certainly an attainable goal. However, the Panthers need to find a cure for their first-half woes, particularly on the road. Pittsburgh entered the game shooting 32.4% in the first half of its previous five road games (four losses) and continued the trend Saturday, shooting 26.9% in the first half in falling to the Hokies.

Virginia Tech: A week off certainly did wonders for the Hokies, who desperately needed a win after dropping five straight games. Like the Panthers, the Hokies probably aren't going to make the NCAA field unless they can make some noise in a brutal upcoming stretch. Tech plays Miami on Wednesday, then takes on Duke (road), Virginia (home) and Louisville (road).

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