Charlottesville, Va. - John Paul Jones Arena,
9 p.m., ESPN-HD (Mike Patrick, Bill Raftery)
"Everybody is disappointed in ourselves because we know what we're capable of and we know that we're not playing our best basketball. Last game, we competed, though. But even when we compete, we know that's not good enough, because we still didn't come out with a win. But we've just got to be hungry again." – UNC forward Danny Green
"[It] was obviously disappointing, but at the same point in time — if you're going to try to be the best in this business, you have to forget about it in all of about 10 seconds. You have to move on, and that's what we did… The few times I've gotten to see him play, he's fit in really well. Everybody, including myself, expects him to have a terrific career. He's a terrific prospect."" – UVa head coach Dave Leitao told the Charlottesville Daily Progress, about losing in-state prospect Ed Davis to North Carolina
Season to Date: Virginia enters Thursday night's contest with a 7-6 (1-1 ACC) record. The Cavaliers won their first three games of the season, before losing their next three in close fashion to Liberty (86-82), Syracuse (73-70) and Minnesota (66-56). Leitao's squad defeated Georgia Tech (88-84 OT) in its first ACC contest on Dec. 28 in Atlanta, before falling to Virginia Tech (78-75) in Blacksburg on Saturday.
ACC Frosh of the Year? Freshman guard Sylven Landesberg earned ACC Rookie of the Week on Monday for the fifth time this season. The Flushing, N.Y. product is averaging 18.5 points per game (4th in the ACC), and has scored double figures in 11 of the Cavaliers' 13 contests. The 6-foot-6, 205-pound guard has not taken advantage of the cupcakes on the schedule, either – he scored 20 points against Virginia Tech and posted 26 and 25 points, respectively, against Georgia Tech and Xavier. Landesberg ranks second in the ACC with 7.8 free throw attempts per game, and his eight 20-point games leave him just one game short of tying Ralph Sampson's all-time UVa mark.
Youth Movement: In addition to Landesberg, Virginia starts two other freshmen in seven-foot center Assane Sene (3.7 ppg, 5.3 rebounds per game) and point guard Sammy Zeglinski (11.4 ppg, 4.2 assists per game), as well as sophomore Mike Scott (11.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg). Underclassmen have made 43 of the 65 starts this season for the Cavaliers, and have scored 53.7 points (70.7 % of offense) and grabbed 24.2 rebounds (66.7 % of team total) per outing.
Defensive Struggles: North Carolina has shot below 30 percent in the second half of both conference losses this season, but it appears as though Virginia's defense may provide the perfect remedy, as the Cavaliers currently reside in the cellar of the ACC in field goal percentage defense, allowing their opponents to shoot 42.1 percent from the floor. Leitao's club also ranks 10th in steals (6.4) and 11th in blocked shots (4.3).
Offense More of the Same: Unfortunately for Virginia, its offensive production is not much better than its defense. The Cavaliers rank 11th in the ACC in both field goal percentage (.429) and 3-point field goal percentage (.307), as well as holding down the 10th spot in assists (13.5).
Last Meeting: An injury-riddled Tar Heel squad defeated the Cavaliers, 75-74, in Charlottesville on Feb. 12, 2008. Tyler Hansbrough led North Carolina with 23 points and seven rebounds, including an off-balanced jump hook with 21 seconds left to play to give his squad a 75-71 lead. Wayne Ellington contributed 19 points and five rebounds and Deon Thompson added 12 points and six rebounds.
Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Virginia, 122-48. The Tar Heels own a 41-31 record in Charlottesville, and a 1-0 mark at John Paul Jones Arena.
Projected Starters: 13 Sammy Zeglinski (6-0, 179, Fr.) – 11.4 ppg, 4.2 apg 15 Sylven Landesberg (6-6, 205, Fr.) - 18.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg 24 Mamadi Diane (6-5, 204, Sr.) – 4.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg 32 Mike Scott (6-8, 233, So.) - 11.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg 5 Assane Sene (7-0, 234, Fr.) – 3.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg Key Reserves: 4 Calvin Baker (6-2, 186, Jr.) – 7.5 ppg, 2.7 apg 12 Jamil Tucker (6-9, 241, Jr.) – 7.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg 2 Mustapha Farrakhan (6-4, 179, So.) – 5.9 ppg 23 Jeff Jones (6-4, 200, So.) – 4.4 ppg
Landesberg ... Zeglinski
Scott ... Baker
Sene ... Tucker
(Photos courtesy AP)