Charlottesville, Va. -- University Hall
7:00 p.m., ESPN (Mike Patrick, Len Elmore)
"Between [our two centers], there is a limited amount of game-time experience ... [Hansbrough's] a tremendous load down low and a guy that draws a ton of contact. He's got over 100 free throws already for them in 12 games. It will be another challenge for those guys." -- Dave Leitao
"[Singletary]'s got some intestinal fortitude of which I really don't know if I've ever seen before. It's almost to the point where you get that mentality from a boxer or a football player, somebody in one of those full-contact sports. He has something that he can go to that makes him get up early, get in the gym, that makes him take hits and fall down and get back up." -- Dave Leitao
"We'll have to see how our young kids bounce back going to Charlottesville and playing up there. Virginia got a great road win at Blacksburg. It's going to be a challenge. We'd want to be in a position where we would go up there and be as confident as we could be, but I've always thought you gained more confidence by playing harder and that's what we're going to try and do on Thursday night." -- Roy Williams
Season To Date: The Pete Gillen era left the UVa fan base tired of mediocrity. And while Gillen didn't leave much for Dave Leitao to work with, the first-year head coach has already excited the fans with his team's inspired play -- and surprising 2-2 ACC start. Now, granted, the Cavs haven't played anyone from the top tier of the ACC (Ga. Tech, Clemson, FSU, Va. Tech), but as North Carolina found out already, a road win in the ACC is no easy task and UVa won at Virginia Tech on Sunday, 54-49. Few expect anything but a last place finish for the Cavs this season in light of their limited number of scholarship players (8) and new coach, but their four ACC opponents have already learned that the Cavs are going to put up a fight this season. Their two losses in conference were in overtime to FSU and a loss at Georgia Tech that likely could have gone the other way had Singletary not had the worst shooting night of his career (3-23 FG). UVa has had two other games worth noting. They notched a win in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge against Northwestern, in which the Cavs committed only 8 turnovers. And, perhaps most impressive of all was the December game at No. 10 Gonzaga, as the Cavs actually were ahead mid-way through the second half before falling apart late (Singletary posted a career-high 35 points).
Single-Star: In a conference that lost a number of elite point guards to the NBA last spring, Virginia sophomore Sean Singletary was arguably the best one that returned. This season, he's been the Cavs' all-around star. Singletary is averaging 18.0 points, 4.9 assists (though over the last seven games, he's averaging 6.4 assists), 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 steals and is shooting 43.3 percent on three-point attempts. In other words, he's looked upon to do just about everything for this team, and that can be tiring. "The scoring load, running the team, being the cheerleader, leading the defensive charge, everything kind of falls on his shoulders, and he's such a caring guy that he takes more pride in it than most people," Leitao said. "So that leads to a little bit more fatigue. We've just got to continue to try to get him more rest when necessary."
No Name Frontcourt: Tunji Soroye, Jason Cain, Laurynas Mikalauskas. You probably haven't heard of them, but this is the trio that will be given the task of stopping Tyler Hansbrough. Soroye and Cain weigh 212 pounds a piece, so that's not a lot of bulk up front in UVa's starting lineup, but more importantly the three post players have 15 fouls to give and they're not afraid to use them -- having combined for 127 fouls thus far (9.0 per game). Soroye and Mikalauskas have each fouled out of the last two games. However, led by Cain (8.0 rpg) and with some help from the backcourt, the Cavs have been a surprisingly good rebounding team. In their four ACC games, they're averaging a +8.8 advantage on the boards. On the offensive end, the trio doesn't provide much, which is an area Leitao is trying to improve. "We'll see if there's a couple of adjustments that we can make to lighten up the load on the perimeter by giving the guys down low an opportunity to make some plays, just to keep the defense honest and those guys involved in the game," the UVa coach said.
No Place Like Home: Several UVa players are performing much better at home than on the road. Starting small forward Adrian Joseph is averaging 7.4 more points per game at U-Hall. Starting shooting guard J.R. Reynolds has shot 9 percentage points better on three-pointers at home. Though freshman guard Mamadi Diane, who has started 11 games but now comes off the bench, is the best case study. On the road, he's shooting poorly (27% FG, 17% 3pt) and has been a liability with the ball, sporting a woeful 0.23 assist-to-turnover ratio. At U-Hall, however, Diane has been one of the Cavs' top perimeter shooters (47% FG, 43% 3pt), while posting an impressive 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Series History: Carolina leads the series with Virginia, 118-47. UNC leads the series, 23-17, in games played at University Hall and 40-30 in games played in Charlottesville. The Tar Heels swept a pair of games from the Cavaliers last season — a 110-76 rout in Charlottesville and an 85-61 win in Chapel Hill. Prior to last year's win in University Hall, Virginia had beaten Carolina five straight times in Charlottesville (dating to Feb. 20, 1999). In that game in 1999, Carolina trailed by two when Ademola Okulaja hit a three-pointer with 1.4 seconds left to pick up a 67-66 win for UNC. Carolina has won back-to-back games in Charlottesville only twice in the past 20 years (1998 and 1999; 1987 and 1988). (courtesy UNC Athletic Comm.)
Projected Starters: 44 Sean Singletary (6-0, 174, So.) – 18.0 ppg, 4.9 apg 02 J.R. Reynolds (6-3, 197, Jr.) – 14.8 ppg, 3.4 apg 30 Adrian Joseph (6-7, 195, So.) - 10.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg 33 Jason Cain (6-10, 212, Jr.) – 8.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg 21 Tunji Soroye (6-11, 212, So.) - 2.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.7 bpg Key Reserves: 24 Mamadi Diane (6-5, 185, Fr.) – 8.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg 11 Laurynas Mikalauskas (6-8, 241, Fr.) – 4.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg 12 Billy Campbell (6-0, 184, Sr.) – 1.2 ppg 15 T.J. Bannister (5-11, 176, Jr.) – 0.5 ppg
Singletary ... Reynolds
Joseph ... Soroye