Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
Wednesday, 7 p.m., ESPN
"Virginia has won its last three games, so we know we've got them on an upswing. ... In this league, you hope that your kids are mature enough to understand that Wake Forest loses at Florida State and it's a 40-point game the second time. So the point swings can be huge in this league, depending on how your team is playing at that particular moment. Sometimes you catch a team at a bad time, and then they come back around and they're playing real well." -- Roy Williams
"I don't think [a blowout] will happen again. They've got a phenomenal team. They have some great, great players; and yeah, the last time we played them they played great and we were very poor. We put our heads down and got a little discouraged. They shot the ball great. We played Virginia Tech and had gotten back at 1:15 in the morning [on the Friday before Saturday's noon tip in Charlottesville]. It's a fact. We had to get up at 7:30 on Saturday, so we weren't fresh at all. But no matter what happened, they would have whacked us that day." -- Pete Gillen
First Meeting with UNC: The Tar Heels quickly ended their U-Hall losing streak, jumping to a 35-10 lead, which grew to 62-26 at halftime and ended up a 110-76 final score. The Tar Heels shot 60% FG (61% 3pt) for the game and held Virginia to 25% first-half shooting. Jawad Williams (23 pts) and Sean May (20 pts) led the UNC scoring assault.
Season To Date: The Cavs showed early promise with a November win over Arizona, but barring a miraculous late-season turnaround they'll miss on the NCAA Tournament yet again -- and head coach Pete Gillen will exit Charlottesville. From Jan. 2 to Feb. 2, Virginia went 2-8, likely sealing their fate. Why the struggles? Lack of depth and committing more than twice as many turnovers as opponents are two clear reasons.
Injury Report: Freshman forward Adrian Joseph (5.1 ppg) has missed the last four games with a quadriceps injury and hopes to return Wednesday. Senior defender/rebounder Jason Clark (6.7 ppg, 5.2 ppg) was dismissed from the team six week ago for academic reasons.
Slow Down: While he's not proud to admit it, Pete Gillen has found a successful offensive formula for making his team competitive in the ACC -- play a guard-heavy lineup, spread out and slow it down. This approach has produced three straight wins over NC State, Florida State and Virginia Tech by limiting turnovers and frustrating opponents. But Gillen notes that he actually did it for defensive reasons. "We're playing this new style to play better defense," he said. "If we play fast, some of our fast-paced guys get tired and then they can't play defense. We play tag and we're not going to outscore teams in the ACC, we're not that type of team. We just try to give ourselves a chance every game. I think our style is not so much helping our offense, I think it's improving our defense a little bit so we have more energy to play defense." The Cavs' opponents are shooting 41.3% over the three-game stretch and averaging only 18.3 field goals per game. For the sake of comparison, UNC had 39 field goals in its win at UVa earlier this season.
One-Two Punch: With a team short on reliable contributors, Devin Smith and Elton Brown have been pretty consistent in filling the box scores. The seniors are UVa's top two scorers and rebounders. Smith has the ability to score in bunches, as evidenced by his 40-point outing at Iowa State earlier this season. Brown, at 6-9, 255 pounds, is a load in the post and when he maintains his focus can post double-doubles.
Emerging Star?: Smith and Brown are UVa's top producers, but if last Saturday was any indication, Gary Forbes could be next in line. The 6-6 sophomore swingman scored 16 of UVa's 21 points during a second-half stretch to lead the Cavs to victory over Virginia Tech. It was the third 20-plus scoring effort of his career and served as a reminder why he was all-NYC two years ago.
Projected Starters: 44 Sean Singletary (6-0, 180, G, Fr.) - 9.7 ppg, 4.0 apg 15 T.J. Bannister (5-10, 170, G, So.) – 4.1 ppg, 3.5 apg 2 J.R. Reynolds (6-2, 200, G, So.) – 10.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg 33 Devin Smith (6-5, 242, F, Sr.) – 16.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg 43 Elton Brown (6-9, 255, C, Sr.) - 14.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg Key Reserves: 23 Gary Forbes (6-6, 210, F, So.) – 9.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg 30 Adrian Joseph (6-7, 200, F, Fr.) – 5.1 ppg 32 Jason Cain (6-10, 205, F, So.) – 2.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg 55 Donte Minter (6-8, 245, F, So.) – 1.5 ppg, 0.6 rpg
Brown ... Smith
Singletary ... Forbes
Reynolds ... Gillen