BATON ROUGE, La. -- Antonio Blakeney scored 20 points as LSU held off North Florida 78-70 in a non-conference game Friday.The Ospreys, who trailed by 12 points with slightly more than six minutes remaining in the game, reduced their deficit to four over the next two minutes. A basket by Romelo Banks left the Tigers (3-0) ahead 67-63 with 4:11 left.Blakeney then scored six of his 20 points in the last 3 1/2 minutes to enable LSU to pick up the victory. Blakeney made two field goals and a pair of foul shots. Brandon Sampson had a field goal and two free throws in the stretch for the Tigers.This was one of those games where you keep trying to play better as the game goes along, said Blakeney, who scored 26 points in LSUs previous game against Southern Mississippi. You just try to correct the mistakes that you make. I am just happy we got the win.Blakeney was one of four LSU players to score in double figures. Duop Reath had 17 points before fouling out late in the game. Sampson scored 16 points and Aaron Epps added 14.It was a grind game for us in the second half with the way (North Florida) came back, Tigers coach Johnny Jones said. Our guys grinded it out defensively and they executed offensively. Our guys closed out the game well with plays made by Blakeney and several other guys.Four players also scored in double figures for North Florida (1-3). Chris Davenport led the Ospreys with 16 points. Banks, Aaron Bodager and Dallas Moore each had 13 points.North Florida had lost decisively to its first two power conference opponents this season -- Auburn and Miami.Were growing up, North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll said. We didnt let the lead LSU built in the second half demoralize us. We cut it to four points and the guys just kept on fighting. We left so much on the table with 20 turnovers and going 13-for-28 at the free throw line.BIG PICTURELSU: The Tigers were unable to put North Florida away for good until the final minute. LSU saw a nine-point first-half advantage cut to one point at the break. Then, the Tigers lost most of a 12-point lead down the stretch.NORTH FLORIDA: The performance by the Ospreys was quite different from the one two nights earlier against Miami. North Florida scored just 56 points while losing by 38 points to the Hurricanes. The Ospreys outrebounded LSU by ten and shot 44 percent from the field.RUNNING THE SHOWJalyn Patterson played point guard instead of starter Skylar Mays for LSU for most of the game. Patterson only scored one point, but handed out a career-high eight assists and committed just two turnovers in 27 minutes.GROUP EFFORT ON THE BOARDSNorth Florida was able to stay within striking distance of LSU all night because of its work on the boards. It was a team effort for the Ospreys as six players grabbed at least six rebounds. The leader was Romelo Banks, who was credited with nine rebounds.IMPROVED DEFENSELSU coach Johnny Jones has emphasized that his team must play more effectively on the defensive end of the floor this year. North Florida made 44 percent of its field goal attempts -- the highest mark by a Tigers opponent so far this season. LSU has not allowed more than 70 points in any of its first three games. The last time the Tigers had a three-game stretch of not giving up more than 70 points came in the first three games of last season.UP NEXTLSU: The Tigers will play away from home for the first time this season in the Battle 4 Atlantis at Paradise Island, Bahamas. LSU will meet Wichita State in an opening-round game Wednesday.NORTH FLORIDA: The Ospreys will return home to face their second non-Division I opponent of the season. North Florida will take on Florida National on Tuesday. 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Robinson finished with 17 points, all but two in the second half, and Lawson had 14 after halftime and finished with a game-high 11 assists as the Nuggets handed Dallas its first home loss in eight games this season. J.J. Hickson led Denver with 22, and Kenneth Faried added 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech clash, once the premier matchup in the ACCs Coastal Division with the two teams accounting for nine of the 11 division titles since the league split into two groups for the 2005 season, doesnt have quite the buzz about it this year.Only the No. 14 Hokies (7-2, 5-1 ACC) remain in title contention going into Saturdays game (3:30 p.m ET, ESPNU) at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va. They are tied with North Carolina at the top of the division standings but are in control in the race for a berth in the championship game because they hold the tiebreaker over the Tar Heels.If they win their final two conference games (they finish the regular season against Virginia on Nov. 26), it wont matter how the Tar Heels fare in their two remaining contests (Duke and North Carolina State). Lose one of the two and the Hokies would need the Tar Heels also to lose once to gain the title game berth.Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets (5-4, 2-4) will be playing to obtain bowl eligibility, something that eluded them a year ago when they struggled to a 3-9 record.Nevertheless, first-year Hokies coach Justin Fuente sees a big challenge in taking on the Jackets and their ground-oriented, clock-killing, triple-option attack.It forces you to make the most of your time on offense, Fuente said. You dont see the (spread option) every day, and theyre very good at running it.Fuentes defense holds opponents to 327 yards per game to rank 17th in the country in total defense with only 126 of that coming on the ground.While coach Paul Johnsons offense is producing about 27 points and 257 yards per game rushing and is coming off a 334-yard rushing performance in a loss to North Carolina last week, the Jackets have struggled on defense.The Tar Heels torched the Jackets for 636 yards in winning 48-20 last weekend, that after Duke went for 559 the week before in a game the Jackets managed to win 38-35. The 636 yards were the second-most total yards allowed in school history, behind only the 667 given up to a Joe Monttana-led Notre Dame team in 1977.dddddddddddd.Its definitely embarrassing, Jackets safety Corey Griffin said. Im embarrassed, the teams embarrassed, coach Johnson is embarrassed ... the whole coaching staff.Tackling, or lack of it, was a major issue.Theres a ton of missed tackles and a ton of missed whatever, Johnson said. If you cant cover them, you cant cover them. Not getting much of a pass rush and not being able to cover is a deadly combination.Against that defense, the Hokies will be putting up a fast-paced offense that is averaging nearly 78 plays and 35 points. The Hokies have averaged 193 yards rushing and 251 passing.But they are coming off one of their least efficient games of the season. In their 24-21 road win over Duke last week, they recorded their third-lowest yardage total of the season (399) and second-lowest passing total (192).Quarterback Jerod Evans passed for only 192 yards against the Blue Devils, but led the Hokies in rushing with 83 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Evans is Techs leading rusher for the season with 533 yards and four touchdowns. He also has 21 touchdown passes, three short of Tyrod Taylors school record of 24 set in 2010.Running back Travon McMillian bounced back with 72 rushing yards and a touchdown after being held to minus-3 rushing yards at Pittsburgh the week before. McMillian is second on the team in rushing with 527 yards and four touchdowns.For the Jackets, quarterback Justin Thomas is second on the team in rushing with 561 yards to freshman B-back Dedrick Mills 578. He has completed 63 of 115 passes for 1,208 yards and seven touchdowns and only one interception.The key for the Jackets is efficiency.Theres just no margin for error, Johnson said. Were not good enough offensively to have any margin for error. Its just the way it is.Virginia Tech won five of the last six meetings, including 23-21 last season in Atlanta. 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dasg234, 11.11.2018 15:43