Entering the game with a scoring average just under 80 points per game (77.0) and a balanced attack, the Cavaliers are certainly capable of spoiling Duke's 12 game win streak and silencing the Cameron Crazies. For Duke, the key will be avoiding yet another slow start, and finding the shooting rhythms for guard J.J. Redick and Daniel Ewing, both of whom have struggled of late.
Meet the Cavaliers
C- Elton Brown (6'9, 250, SR) – a big body who has shown flashes of dominance throughout his first three seasons, has apparently put it all together this year. Averaging 15 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, Brown has recommitted himself to being a true post presence in the lane for Virginia. Though he still tends to float away from the basket at times, Brown knows how to use his wide frame to seal off his opponent and go to the rim with either hand.
Though foul trouble plagued him last season, it hasn't surfaced with the same severity this year, as he's only committing 2.1 fouls per game and has been DQ'ed only once. One source of trouble has been his free throw shooting (just 61%) despite getting to the line several times per contest.
Jason Clark (6'8, 235, SR) – Reminds many analysts of Clemson's Chris Hobbs in that he's a scrappy low post player who seems content battling for loose balls and can make life difficult for anyone inside the paint, including bigger players. Offensively he's not going to kill you, but has a knack for making the correct play and can convert near the hoop (63% FG).
This year he's a spot starter, averaging just over seven points and nearly six rebounds in 28 minutes of action per night. His best performance of the season came in Virginia's 80-79 victory over Western Kentucky. There, the senior logged 16 points and nine rebounds while playing a remarkable 42 minutes.
Devin Smith (6'5, 240, SR) – Probably Virginia's best player, Smith has battled injuries over the last two years, and still proved to be UVa's biggest offensive threat. After surgery in the off season, Smith reported to camp at 230lbs, and looked great early on before getting banged up again recently.
As has been his calling card, he once again battled back and played hurt and is averaging nearly 18 points and seven rebounds, while shooting 39% from the perimeter. So far he's torched Iowa State for 40, and Richmond for 26 before the injury forced him to sit out of the Tech and Wake games. He returned to the lineup against Miami to log 21 points and six rebounds in 28 painful minutes. Still, he's noticeably hurting and is limited in how many minutes he can go at full strength.
Then again with his physical gifts, he's been able to still prove to be among the ACC's elite forwards. His size and speed could cause problems for Duke.
G- J.R. Reynolds (6'3, 195, SO) – Last year Reynolds made his name against Duke, hitting from the perimeter in the Cavaliers' loss at Cameron. That game was a microcosm of the rest of his season, and to a bigger extent, his career to date. Reynolds is a big guard with a nice stroke from three point land, but who is quick enough to drive to the basket against bigger defenders. He does, at times struggle on both the defensive end and with shot selection.
This year his perimeter shot has taken a small step back (down to 35%), and he's shooting less than 40% from the floor while having the second highest number of attempts on the team. Still, he's third on the team in scoring at 12 points per game, and is the team's best free throw shooter at 89%.
Sean Singletary (5'11, 175, FR) – Last year's group of Cavaliers never had a true point guard as Majestic Mapp finally gave up on his basketball career, and Reynolds filled in with spot duty. This year Philadelphia native Singletary was a highly rated recruit, and has stepped in well for UVa in the early going. As he continues to become more and more comfortable running the offense, his numbers have improved steadily.
His best game of his young career came against Auburn when he lit the Tigers up for 25 points, five assists, and seven rebounds. However, he struggled against the league's best two guards, logging a combined eight points, and nine fouls in losses against Jarret Jack's Georgia Tech and Chris Paul's Wake Forest teams. However, despite defensive troubles, he managed to take care of the ball with veteran like poise, maintaining a 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio against the All American candidates.
On the season Singletary is averaging 9.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per contest.
One thing the Cavaliers have is quality depth. Backing up the starting five are a trio if capable reserves led by sophomore swingman Gary Forbes (6'6, 210), an athletic combo wing who has struggled with his perimeter jumpshot (18%) this year, but has improved his slashing ability and uses his big frame to get to the rim where he can finish with either hand. After Forbes comes Trinidad native Adrian Joseph (6'7, 200, FR), a tremendously athletic big forward, albeit quite raw in terms of skills. Sophomore T.J. Bannister played well in spots at the point last season, but has been moved to the second team with the emergence of Singletary. Bannister, like many of his teammates, has had trouble shooting this season (17% from 3), but is a capable ball handler. Other reserves of note include backup freshman big man Donte Miller (6'8, 244) and Jason Cain (6'9, 205).
*- The Blue Devils have won the past nine games in Cameron Indoor Stadium vs. Virginia and 43 of the 51 contests overall in the arena against the Cavs. Under Mike Krzyzewski, Duke is 40-15 vs. Virginia.
*- Duke has now started a season 12-0 seven times in 25 seasons under Mike Krzyzewski, including 2004-05
*- Duke has limited six of its first 12 opponents to less than 60 points and an overall average of 59.2 points per outing
Sources indicate that junior forward Shavlik Randolph may see spot duty against Virginia after suffering from mononucleosis. He has now been cleared for full contact in practice.