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Wednesday's college basketball: Stifling defense helps Purdue blow out Virginia

Associated Press

West Lafayette, Ind. — Purdue coach Matt Painter packed his lineup with more scoring punch Wednesday night.

Sasha Stefanovic made sure it paid off.

Purdue center Matt Haarms (32) celebrates with fans following the team's victory over Virginia.

Just hours after learning he would make his first career start, the sophomore guard poured in a career-high 20 points, Jahaad Proctor added 16 and the Boilermakers shut down No. 5 Virginia with a 69-40 rout in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

“Anytime you want to loosen up a defense that’s trying to prevent the ball from getting into the paint – and they’re so good at that – you’ve got to be able to make some shots,” Painter said. “You can see tonight, he (Stefanovic) can really change some things with his ability to shoot.”

It was a milestone night not just for Stefanovic.

For the first time in the 52-year history of Mackey Arena, the Boilermakers (5-3) beat a top-five team from outside the Big Ten. They held their sixth straight opponent under 60 points, their longest stretch since 2010-11. And yes, they even got the satisfaction of snapping the Cavaliers’ 13-game winning streak, a little more than eight months after Virginia outlasted Purdue in overtime during a classic Elite Eight game in the NCAA Tournament.

This time, Purdue left nothing to chance.

Stefanovic started the game with three straight 3-pointers to help the Boilermakers take charge early. He finished with six 3s and played a big part in helping the Boilermakers seal it, too.

And a matchup that was expected to be a low-scoring game between two of the nation’s stingiest defenses never materialized. Instead, the Boilermakers made it look easy against the defending national champs by making 13 3-pointers – the most allowed by Virginia (7-1) all season.

“When you go against a team that’s that well-coached and that intense and that physical, it kind of takes your breath away,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said. “We played on our heels all game and I had a feeling there was going to be extra motivation with that setting.”

Jay Huff had 11 points and Mamadi Diakite finished with 10 to lead Virginia, which finished with its lowest point total since a 65-39 loss to Florida in March 2017.

Purdue never really gave the Cavaliers a chance.

After the teams opened the game with four straight baskets, Purdue dug in, locked down and seized control with a 12-0 run over nearly seven minutes to take a 26-9 lead late in the first half.

Virginia never got closer than 12 the rest of the game and it only got worse in the second half when Purdue extended a 32-17 halftime lead to 43-22 in less than five minutes.

Even after the Cavaliers looked as though they might make a charge, cutting the deficit to 51-36 with 7:37 left, the Boilermakers scored 16 in a row.

“We’ve been struggling to shoot it lately,” Proctor said. “”When Sasha gets it going, it makes the game a lot more fun. It makes it easier. So I want to thank Sasha for that one.”

More Big Ten/ACC Challenge

(At) No. 3 Maryland 72, Notre Dame 51: Jalen Smith had 15 points and a career-high 16 rebounds as Maryland cruised past Notre Dame in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Eric Ayala scored 14 points and Aaron Wiggins added 11 for the Terrapins (9-0), off to their best start since winning 10 in a row to open the 1998-99 season.

John Mooney had 17 points and 12 rebounds for Notre Dame (6-2), which had won six straight since beginning the season with a loss at North Carolina.

After falling behind 9-4, Maryland allowed just four points over the next 12:31.

No. 6 Ohio State 74, (at) No. 7 North Carolina 49: Duane Washington Jr. had 18 points and No. 6 Ohio State shot 54% after halftime to hand the Tar Heels their most lopsided home loss under Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams.

E.J. Liddell added 12 points for the Buckeyes (8-0), who led just 29-27 at halftime. But Ohio State’s offense started knocking down shots while the defense continued making things difficult on the Tar Heels (6-2) just as in the first 20 minutes.

Ohio State outscored UNC 35-13 over the final 15 1/2 minutes to break the game open in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The lead steadily grew until the Buckeyes had surpassed last January’s 83-62 win by Louisville here that stood as the Tar Heels’ worst in the Smith Center under Williams.

Cole Anthony scored 15 points to lead the Tar Heels, though he had to leave briefly during the first half when he sustained a cut near his hairline while being fouled, leaving blood running down the center of his forehead. North Carolina shot just 27.4% and played much of the way without freshman big man Armando Bacot, who exited in the first half with a left ankle injury.

The Tar Heels were returning home from a third-place showing in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas, ending with probably their best complete-game performance to grind out a close win against No. 13 Oregon. Yet Williams said Tuesday the Tar Heels aren’t playing at a fast enough tempo and their offense, putting it simply, “is not very good.”

That unit found itself up against one of the nation’s toughest defenses in this one. And things only got more difficult when the 6-foot-10 Bacot crumpled to the court after a tip-in at the 12:48 mark, writhing in pain before being helped off by two teammates while putting no weight on his injured ankle.

Ohio State finished with a 48-32 rebounding advantage and had four players score in double figures.

(At) Georgia Tech 73, Nebraska 56: Michael Devoe scored 26 points and Georgia Tech pulled away in the second half.  Devoe was essentially a one-man team as the Yellow Jackets (4-2) seized control.

First, he stepped behind the arc to swish a 3-pointer. Then, he slipped inside for a putback after corralling an offensive rebound, leading to a Nebraska timeout that gave the guard a chance to flex his muscles on the way back to his own bench. Finally, Devoe drove to the hoop, banked one in and drew the foul for a three-point play that made it 53-42 with just under 11 minutes remaining.

Georgia Tech had a rare breather down the stretch after four of its first five games were decided by a total of nine points.

Nebraska (4-4), in its first season under coach Fred Hoiberg, couldn’t overcome 32% shooting which only got worse over the final 20 minutes. The Cornhuskers connected on just 8 of 32 shots in the second half.

(At) Penn State 76, Wake Forest 54: Myreon Jones scored a career-high 22 point, Lamar Stevens added 14 points and Izaiah Brockington had 13 for the Nittany Lions (7-1), who never trailed and led by as many as 31 with 6:16 to play.

Olivier Sarr scored 14 points and added 10 rebounds while Andrien White had 10 points for the Demon Deacons (5-4), who trailed 41-23 at halftime.

(At) North Carolina State 69, Wisconsin 54: Jericole Hellems scored a career-high 23 points, Markell Johnson finished with 12 points and C.J. Bryce added 11 for N.C. State (6-2). Johnson beat the halftime buzzer with a 3-pointer from midcourt that started the 29-14 run that put the Wolfpack in control and helped them avenge last year’s 79-75 loss to the Badgers (4-4) in Madison.

Top 25

(At) No. 9 Gonzaga 101, Texas Southern 62: Corey Kispert scored 17 points, Joel Ayayi added 16 and Gonzaga beat Texas Southern to rebound from a loss to Michigan in the Battle 4 Atlantis title game.

Seven players scored in double figures for Gonzaga (9-1). The Zags have 28 consecutive home wins, the second-longest streak in the nation behind Tennessee.

Gonzaga made 12 of its first 15 shots and led 53-30 at halftime before scoring the first nine points of the second half. The Bulldogs have five players banged up, but bounced back from an 82-64 loss to Michigan last Friday that was their most lopsided since 2014.

Tyrik Armstrong had 15 points for Texas Southern (2-6).

(At) No. 20 Colorado 76, Loyola Marymount 64: D’Shawn Schwartz had a season-high 16 points, including a tiebreaking 3-pointer late. McKinley Wright IV also scored 16 points and Tyler Bey had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Buffaloes (7-0), who overcame 18 turnovers and a big performance from Lions junior Eli Scott to remain unbeaten.

Scott finished with a career-high 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.

The Lions came close to pulling off a surprise but went cold down the stretch. Scott’s layup with 4:17 left tied it at 61, but Loyola Marymount didn’t make another field goal until Scott’s dunk with eight seconds left. They missed nine straight shots from the field and three of four free throws.

Loyola Marymount led by four at halftime and built a 43-34 advantage on a 3 by Scott early in the second half. Colorado rallied to get to 49-47 behind a trio of 3-pointers.

The Buffaloes took the lead on a 3, and the teams were tied at 59 when Wright hit a jumper from the wing. Scott tied it on a layup with 4:17 to go.

Schwartz hit his 3-pointer from the corner with 2:41 left and the Buffaloes used strong defense and hit 16 of their last 18 free throws to seal it.

(At) No. 21 Tennessee 72, Florida A&M 43: John Fulkerson scored 15 points to lead five Tennessee players in double figures as the Volunteers trounced winless Florida A&M for their 31st consecutive home victory.

Tennessee (7-1) owns the longest active home winning streak of any Division I team. The Vols haven’t lost at home since falling 94-84 to Auburn on Jan. 2, 2018.

Their latest victory improved Rick Barnes’ coaching record to 699-365 in 32 seasons at George Mason (1987-88), Providence (1988-94), Clemson (1994-98), Texas (1998-2015) and Tennessee (2015-present). Barnes will try to become the seventh active head coach to earn 700 career Division I wins when Tennessee hosts No. 15 Memphis on Dec. 14.

Yves Pons scored 14 points and Olivier Nkamhoua had 11 for Tennessee.

Evins Desir scored 11 for Florida A&M (0-7).

(At) No. 22 Washington 90, Eastern Washington 80: Quade Green had 20 points and eight assists, Jaden McDaniels added 17 points before fouling out and No. 22 Washington beat Eastern Washington 90-80 on Wednesday night.

Coming off the bench for the first time this season, Green provided a spark to a sluggish start by the Huskies. Washington had a season-high 47 points in the first half and the Huskies withstood every challenge in a foul-filled second half from the preseason favorites in the Big Sky Conference.

Outside of a few sloppy stretches, Washington (7-1) also avoided getting caught looking ahead to Sunday’s showdown with No. 9 Gonzaga.

Kim Aiken Jr. led Eastern Washington (4-3) with 26 points, while Jacob Davidson and Tyler Kidd both added 12. The Eagles pulled even at 33-all late in the first half, but Washington outscored Eastern Washington 14-2 over the final 5 minutes of the half to take control.

(At) No. 23 Villanova 80, Penn 69: Saddiq Bey scored a career-high 27 points to lead Villanova over Penn.

The Wildcats (6-2) finally pulled away from the Quakers over the final two minutes to avoid a second straight loss to their Philadelphia basketball rival. Justin Moore converted a three-point play to give Villanova the breathing room it needed to hold off pesky Penn (5-4).