Virginia coach Tony Bennett took the blame for a poor approach in No. 23 Virginia's 24-point loss at No. 5 North Carolina nine days ago.
On Monday night, he gave his team the credit for make a new approach work in a 53-43 victory against the Tar Heels in Charlottesville, N.C.
Kyle Guy scored 17 points, London Perrantes had 13 and the Cavaliers used a small lineup to neutralize the Tar Heels' size advantage. It produced the lowest-scoring game for North Carolina in Roy Williams' 14 years as coach, and the lowest overall since 1979.
"We made a commitment about three weeks ago or two weeks ago that we're just going to be a better defensive team by the end of the year," said Bennett, whose team had already ranked as the stingiest scoring defense in the country much of the year. "We just have to be."
Against the Tar Heels, the smaller, quicker lineup forced 12 first-half turnovers and freshmen sharpshooters Guy and Ty Jerome gave Perrantes to offensive lift Virginia needed, hitting all four of the Cavaliers' first-half 3-pointers as they took a 27-23 lead into the locker room.
The Tar Heels (25-6, 13-4) got within 40-39 with 9:26 left, but Perrantes made back-to-back 3s, rousing the crowd at John Paul Jones Arena to deafening levels. When Jack Salt added a putback that lingered on the rim, then dropped, the outcome seemed certain.
Guy, who got his second straight start, has energized the offense. He scored 19 in a victory at North Carolina State on Saturday.
"If he's hitting shots and we can get him going quick, we're going to find him. We're able to get in the lane and make drives and kicks or we have any sets we run for him, if he's able to get going, he spaces and opens the floor for a lot of people," said Devon Hall, who scored 11.
North Carolina, averaging 86.2 points, scored just four points in the game's last 9:26.
"Tonight I don't think it was as much what we did wrong as much as how good their defense was," Williams said.
The Tar Heels, who had won four straight, were led by Joel Berry II with 12 points. ACC player of the year contender Justin Jackson managed just seven points after missing seven of 10 shots, and the team shot just 35.4 points (17 for 48). They were 4 for 16 from 3.
After ending their longest losing streak since Bennett's first year on Saturday, Isaiah Wilkins thinks Virginia is rebounding well.
"It's just one win," he said. "One win changes a lot for the confidence. We got the win at N.C. State and guys are back shooting the ball. We got a swagger back and a little confidence back."
No. 11 Baylor 71, No. 10 West Virginia 62
Ishmail Wainright is the lone senior for 11th-ranked Baylor, and was recognized with a video tribute after his final home game.
This also likely was the Ferrell Center finale for Johnathan Motley, a standout junior and potential NBA lottery pick who delivered quite a farewell to Bears fans if this was indeed his last game there.
Motley scored 19 of his 23 points after halftime in a 71-62 victory over 10th-ranked West Virginia on Monday night in Waco, Texas. The Bears avenged a 21-point loss in Morgantown on Jan. 10, when they were playing their first-ever game as No. 1 in the AP Top 25 after winning their first 15 games.
"It was about getting him a W," Motley said of Wainright. "I made sure I did everything I could ... everybody else followed."
When asked if it was his last game in Waco, Motley responded, "I don't know, man. I'm just glad we got the 'W' for Ish."
Al Freeman had 12 points with two late 3-pointers and Jo Lual-Acuil added 11 points and 10 rebounds for Baylor (24-6, 11-6 Big 12), which ended the game with a 30-13 run over the final 9 minutes.
"Defensively, we got real tentative," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "And really they just beat us to death on the glass."
The Bears, who finished with a 43-23 rebounding margin, controlled the ball and the tempo over the final stretch.
Before three turnovers in the final minute, when the Mountaineers scored the game's last four points, Baylor didn't have a turnover in its big run to go ahead.
"If you can get stops, and then get in transition, that's so big and so critical," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "When they score they set up the press. And by the time you get it across half court, you're ready for a water break."
Jevon Carter had 18 points and nine rebounds for West Virginia (23-7, 11-6), which led 49-41 after his jumper with 9:04 left. The Mountaineers didn't score again until his nifty basket 3 minutes later — when he drove, stopped, twisted and then scored with a short jumper — that put them ahead for the last time.
Tarik Phillip had 12 points and Elijah Macon 11 for the Mountaineers.
Between those Carter baskets, Baylor scored nine points in a row for its first lead of the second half. Motley had seven of those, including a two-handed slam that became a three-point play after he was fouled and another tough inside basket.
When Carter finally scored again put WVU up 51-50, Lual-Acuil had another inside basket before Wainright had a steal and breakaway layup.
"This was extremely special. My last one, a great ride four years in the making," Wainright said. "They said it was for me and that's the only thing I can really say about that one. A great team."
No. 1 Kansas 73, Oklahoma 63
Frank Mason III scored 23 points in his final game at Allen Fieldhouse, Devonte Graham hit a series of crucial 3-pointers in the second half and top-ranked Kansas rallied from a 10-point deficit to beat Oklahoma 73-63 on Monday night in Lawrence, Kan.
Graham finished with 16 points and Josh Jackson had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Big 12 champion Jayhawks (27-3, 15-2), who trailed 54-42 before finishing the game on a 31-11 run.
The Sooners (10-19, 4-13) were poised to spring a big upset on the day the Jayhawks ascended to No. 1 for the first time this season. But after they took their biggest lead with just over 10 minutes to go, Mason got the comeback started with a nifty basket inside.
He added a steal moments later to set up Lagerald Vick's 3-pointer, and Jackson scored before Graham hit back-to-back shots from beyond the arc. And when Mason added another basket moments later, the Jayhawks had put together a 17-2 charge that gave them a 64-58 lead with about 5 minutes left.
Kansas slowly drew away to make senior night memorable for Mason, big man Landen Lucas and reserve guard Tyler Self, whose father — Kansas coach Bill Self — called him "my favorite Jayhawk of all time."
Virginia Tech 66, No. 25 Miami 61
Ty Outlaw scored a career-high 24 points to lead Virginia Tech to a 66-61 victory over No. 25 Miami on Monday night in Blacksburg, Va.
Outlaw, who was averaging 5.0 points per game, set a school record with eight 3-pointers for the Hokies (21-8, 10-7 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won their third straight game and fifth in the last six. Virginia Tech also moved to 15-1 at home this season.
Miami (20-9, 10-7), which moved into The Associated Press top-25 for the first time this season earlier in the day, led 50-48 with just under seven minutes to go.
However, the Hokies went on a 12-4 run to take the lead for good. Virginia Tech scored on five straight possessions, with the final five points coming on a 3-pointer by Outlaw and a dunk by Zach LeDay for a 60-54 lead with 2:11 remaining.
Anthony Lawrence led Miami with 18 points.
No. 1 UConn 96, South Florida 68
No. 1 UConn isn't impressed with another undefeated regular season.
The Huskies crave more after winning the past four national titles — 11 overall under coach Geno Auriemma.
"It's not a big story because it's been done so many times," Auriemma said after Monday night's 96-68 rout of South Florida in Tampa completed a surprising run to the ninth perfect regular season in program history.
"At this point, you hate to say it," Auriemma added, "but all we've done ... it's all going to be determined (by) what happens the next four weekends."
Napheesa Collier had a career-high 39 points and 12 rebounds, helping UConn (29-0, 16-0 American Athletic Conference) extend its NCAA record winning streak to 104 games.
Katie Lou Samuelson became the 44th player in program history with 1,000 career points and finished with 16 despite a cold shooting night.
With the Huskies' star going 6 of 19 from the field, including just 3 of 12 on 3-point attempts, Collier dominated inside while making 15 of 19 shots on the way to topping 30 points for the second time in three games.
"I think Napheesa did what she's done all season. I don't think there's anything different. She knows where she wants the ball, she goes to that spot and she gets it and she finishes," Auriemma said. "She's incredibly efficient, she's incredibly consistent. She's just really hard to play against. Our guys don't normally score 39 points, that's a lot of points."
Gabby Williams had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Huskies, who played without injured guard Kia Nurse (right ankle) for the fourth straight game.
UConn (29-0, 16-0 American Athletic Conference) completed its ninth undefeated regular season and moved within one victory having 12 consecutive 30-win seasons. The four-time defending national champions won an earlier meeting against South Florida by 65.
"Collier was special tonight," said USF coach Jose Fernandez, whose team played considerably better than it did during 102-37 loss to the Huskies on the road last month.
The Bulls scored 38 in the first half this time.
"Definitely much better performance than the game up there, that's for sure," Fernandez said. "We go into halftime down 18, and you're shooting close to 50 percent from the floor. What else can you do?"
USF (22-7, 11-5) trailed by as many as 21 in the opening half. The Bulls pulled within 62-48 midway through the third quarter before Samuelson made a long 3-pointer to begin an 18-9 spurt that hiked UConn's lead to 23 heading into the final quarter.
Ariadna Pujol led USF with 16 points. Kitija Laksa had 15 and Lala Flores added 13 for the Bulls.
Tribune reporter Shannon Ryan ranks the Big Ten men's basketball teams through the action of Feb. 26, 2017.(Shannon Ryan)
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