After watching a 15-point lead dwindle down to just three late in the second half, Virginia fans had only one thing on their mind: "Here we go again!" But a resilient Cavaliers squad battled to the end and came away with the 61-54 victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies, completing their first sweep of the in-state rivals since 2006, when the Hoos went 3-0 against the Hokies.
More than half the points last night came from threes -- 11 of them. Freshman Joe Harris led the Cavaliers shooting 4 of 7 from beyond the arc. Junior Sammy Zeglinski and senior captain Mustapha Farrakhan added three a piece. Farrakhan led the team with 16 points, followed by Harris's 15 and Zeglinski's 10. Junior Assane Sene and sophomore Bub Evans put up 7 a piece -- four of Sene's came off deafening dunks that lighted up the crowds.
Virginia continues to struggle from the charity stripe, shooting 61.5% from the line. Notably, Zeglinski, Harris and Farrakhan each missed a free throw in the final 35 seconds, when it was as close as a two-possession game.
Still, it's hard to take away from this victory. The Hoos were coming off a three-game losing streak and most Virginia fans have dismissed this season as "playing for next year." Certainly few of even the faithful believed that the sweep could be completed.
Not head coach Tony Bennett, though, who credited the win to Virginia overcoming the challenge of "a rivalry game and wanting to get a victory."
"Play to win," Bennett told to the team before the game. "You're playing a team that is a very high-quality team. You battled them the first time. We're a different team now, but you can do a lot of those same things you did the first time to have success against them."
Zeglinski "might have rivaled [some of Malcolm Delaney's unbelievable shots at the end of the game]. Maybe we should tell him to shoot them like that all the time. Points are hard to come by for us, so whenever we can get them-whether it's Jontel [Evans] hitting a big one or [Zeglinski] hitting some tough ones-that's a cushion for us. [Zeglinski] does have a knack for hitting unconventional ones late in the game at the end of the shot clock."
Virginia faces Georgia Tech on the road on Wednesday, followed by Boston College at home next weekend. The Cavaliers beat the Yellow Jackets earlier this year, but had lost to the Eagles on the road.