Previewing Virginia

How will the Tar Heels respond to Wednesday's stunning loss? Saturday's game against No. 19 Virginia - one of the nation's top defensive teams - should provide the answer. Tip-off at the Smith Center is set for 1 p.m. and will be televised by the ACC Network.

North Carolina (20-4, 7-2) vs. Virginia (19-4, 6-3)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
1:00pm -- ACC Network (Tim Brando, Mike Gminski)


"Mike's had a very good year. Certainly a lot of the defenses are gearing up to stop him. But he's played hard. He's hit big shots for us, and he's been terrific. Like I said, I'm very happy for Mike that after having to sit out last year you can see the maturity in his game and the improvements he's made." - UVa head coach Tony Bennett on senior forward Mike Scott

"They were efficient. The ball was moving topside, guys were screening and getting people open and the looks were there. They were playing together, and the same thing defensively. That's what you hope for, that's why you practice hard and what you prepare for and when it comes together it's nice to see. We showed some spurtability, we were pretty good on the glass, and got some transition buckets. But because we did it once doesn't mean it will show up again, so we'll need to be at a very high level come Saturday." – Bennett on his team's play against Wake Forest on Wednesday night


Season to Date: No. 19 Virginia enters Saturday's contest with a 19-4 (6-3 ACC record). The Cavaliers dropped their third game of the season to TCU, 57-55, but responded with 12 straight victories, including an upset over No. 14 Michigan (70-58) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Tony Bennett's squad has lost ACC games at Duke (61-58) and Florida State (58-55), as well as a home stunner to rival Virginia Tech (47-45).

ACC Player of the Year Candidate: Mike Scott (17.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg) missed the 2010-11 season after needing a pair of surgeries on his left ankle, but the senior forward has made up for lost time in impressive fashion. The Chesapeake, Va. product currently ranks in the ACC's top 10 in scoring (4th), rebounding (6th), field goal percentage (1st, 60.3), free throw percentage (8th, 81.0), offensive rebounds (9th) and defensive rebounds (4th). Scott has been the driving force for Virginia's resurgence this season and has elevated his game in ACC play, averaging 18.7 points and nearly leading the Cavaliers to an upset at Duke with 23 points and nine rebounds. He has earned ACC Player of the Week honors three times and has now made 11 straight field goals, one shy of the school record set by Bobby Stokes in 1977-78.

Dynamic Defense: ACC media and fans knew what style of play Bennett was bringing to Charlottesville from Pullman, Wash., but there were plenty of skeptics concerning his defense-defining pace and whether it would be successful in the up-and-down tendencies of the ACC. So far, so good. The Cavaliers lead the nation in points allowed per possession (0.84), rank second in the country in scoring defense (51.1) and 21st in field goal percentage defense (39.1). Virginia has held 10 opponents under 50 points this season, which represents the most by an ACC team in the shot clock era. One reason for that level of success is that the Cavaliers are holding their opponents to 6.6 second-chance points per game.

Zeglinski's Senior Showcase: Fifth-year senior guard Sammy Zeglinski (8.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg) has provided the Cavaliers with a valuable perimeter scoring threat this season, knocking down 36.0 percent of his 3-pointers. The Philadelphia native ranks fifth in school history in career 3-pointers with 182. Zeglinski has made at least three 3-pointers in eight games this season, including five games with four 3-pointers.

Man Down: Seven-footer Assane Sene fractured his right ankle against Georgia Tech on Jan. 19 and underwent surgery the following day. He is expected to be out approximately six weeks, which lines up with Virginia's regular season finale against Maryland. The senior center, hailing from Saint-Louis, Senegal, had started all 17 games for Virginia, averaging 4.9 points and 3.7 rebounds.

Food for Thought: Virginia is 15-0 when scoring at least 60 points this season.

Random Fact of the Day: All four of the Cavaliers' losses have been by three points or less. Virginia had a chance to win or tie on the final possession in three of those contests.

Last Meeting: The Tar Heels defeated the Cavaliers, 62-56, on Jan. 8, 2011, in Charlottesville, Va. UNC trailed by as many as 11 points in the second half, but an 8-0 run late in the game allowed the Heels to take a 52-50 lead with 3:15 remaining. Tyler Zeller led North Carolina with 12 points.

Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Virginia, 125-49. UNC has won seven of the last eight meetings between the two programs.

Projected Starters:
1 Jontel Evans (5-11, 188, Jr.) - 6.2 ppg, 3.7 apg
13 Sammy Zeglinski (6-1, 184, Sr.) - 8.5 ppg, 2.8 apg
12 Joe Harris (6-6, 211, So.) - 12.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg
23 Mike Scott (6-8, 237, Sr.) - 17.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg
25 Akil Mitchell (6-8, 234, So.) - 4.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg

Top Reserves:
22 Malcolm Brogdon (6-5, 215, Fr.) - 6.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg
32 Darion Atkins (6-8, 222, Fr.) - 2.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg

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(Photos by US Presswire)

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