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Feb. 10, 2014

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP)Joe Harris hasn’t had to score as much this season for No. 17 Virginia as he did a year ago. When the Cavaliers had their hands full with Maryland on Monday night, though, Harris showed he can still carry the day.

Harris scored 19 points, 16 after halftime, and Virginia stretched its winning streak to eight games by beating Maryland 61-53 in the Terrapins’ last visit as an ACC rival.

“We were having trouble scoring the ball a little bit tonight and things weren’t coming as smoothly as they have been in the past, so I think he tried to put it in his hands, and he did,” guard Malcolm Brogdon said of Harris.

Brogdon added 14 points and Akil Mitchell had 13 for the Cavaliers (20-5, 11-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who continued their best start in conference play since the 1981-82 team opened 12-1.

“There’s a reason they’re 11-1 in the league,” Terps coach Mark Turgeon said. “When the game was on the line, their seniors stepped up, made some big plays for them. The defense stepped up.”

Seth Allen scored 15 points and Dez Wells had 12 for Maryland (14-11, 6-6), which had won three of four.

The Terps and Cavaliers were tied at 35 when Harris scored on a drive.

After a block by Maryland, Justin Anderson soared at the other end to block a shot by Maryland’s Roddy Peters near the rim and saved the ball. He started a fast break that moments later was capped by Harris’ 3-pointer from the right corner, arousing a crowd that had grown quiet by the tight ballgame.

“Huge momentum swing,” Harris said. “That was a big play and that was an unbelievable block.”

A dunk by Darion Atkins and Brogdon’s 17-footer pushed the lead to 44-35.

It was 52-41 with just under 5 minutes to play when the Terps staged a rally, getting seven points from Nick Faust and a basket from Wells in a 9-2 run that brought them within 54-50. But Harris hit the front end off a 1-and-1 with 1:03 to play, Maryland missed at the other end and Harris’ two free throws sealed it.

“I expect him to be good. He’s a great player,” Turgeon said, noting that Virginia has been “pounding” opponents and Harris hasn’t needed to be the offensive focal point like last season. “Tonight he had to do it. He had to step up, and he did.”

Virginia had led by at least 19 points in nine of its previous 10 ACC wins, and Mitchell said the close game was beneficial.

“When it’s tough games like that and you’ve really got to find ways to pull it out, that’s when you find out what a true team is about,” he said

The victory was Virginia’s sixth straight in the series.

As the clock wound down in the final minute, Cavaliers fans stood chanting “ACC! ACC!” to mock the Terrapins’ move to the Big 10 next season.

Consecutive 3-pointers by Harris gave Virginia a 33-29 lead in the opening minutes of the second half, but the Cavaliers then went nearly 4 minutes without a basket as the Terps pulled even at 35.

The Cavaliers trailed 17-13 before scoring eight straight points, the last four by Mitchell. Maryland promptly launched a 9-2 run, but Brogdon found Mitchell under the basket with an inbounds pass from halfcourt with 1.8 seconds to play in the half. Mitchell’s dunk made it 26-25.

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