Sidney Lowe thought his team had solved that problem. Not since playing at Cameron nearly a month ago had the Pack gotten off to a poor start, a string of five games that resulted in a 3-2 record. But the same old Wolfpack team showed up on Tuesday night. The Pack fell behind 16-0 to start the game and never lead against the Cavaliers, falling 69-58 at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.
With the loss, the Pack falls to the 10th place in the ACC standings with a 5-10 record including a 1-7 record on the road in conference. It will try to improve its ACC tournament seeding when it finishes the regular season schedule at home against Florida State this weekend. The Pack would need to capture a tournament victory to receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Neither team shot well from the floor, as the Pack hit 41 percent and the Cavaliers hit just 40 percent. But Virginia hit on 10-of-21 of its 3-point attempts and hit 17-of-20 from the FT line, account for well over half of its offensive output on the night. By contrast the Pack shot only 6-for-16 from behind the arc and hit 12-of-16 from the line.
The Pack also had trouble taking care of the ball, coughing it up 15 times during the game. Tracy Smith and Lorenzo Brown combined for nine of those turnovers and the Cavaliers had just nine total as a team in the game.
Javi Gonzalez was the only bright spot for the Pack, coming off the bench to score a team-high 16 points and dish out four assists. Smith scored 10 but had just three rebounds, while Brown and Scott Wood each added 9 points. Richard Howell had 10 rebounds for the Pack but was just 2-of-7 from the field.
The start of the game couldn't have gone much worse for the Wolfpack, who fell behind 16-0 thanks to a comedy of errors on both sides of the ball. The Pack gave up four 3-pointers, almost all of them wide-open looks, while managing to even hit the rim on offense just three times in that span.
But the Pack answered with a run of its own, getting back within a point thanks to a 17-2 run. Gonzalez and CJ Williams helped spark the run for the Pack, as Gonzalez scored nine points and Williams picked up a pair of steals to help their team rally.
The two teams stayed close for the rest of the half, though the Pack never took a lead and Virginia went to the halftime locker room a 32-28 lead. The Cavaliers finished the half just 5-of-14 from behind the arc despite their hot start while the two teams each shot 41 percent from the floor.
The Pack started the second half in a similar fashion to how it started the game, falling behind quickly as the Cavaliers jumped out to a double-digit lead on a 3-pointer from Will Sherrill. This time, though, the Pack couldn't rally a comeback. The visiting team cut into the lead several times but never got closer than six during the half, dropping its seventh road game in league play this year.