Virginia traveled to Winston Salem to face the Demon Deacons on Saturday. The Cavaliers, picked to finish 11th in the 12-team conference, went in as the only undefeated team in the ACC, on an eight-game winning streak. Over the course of the next 40 minutes, however, it was Wake Forest that showed that they belong in ACC title race discussions. With the 69-57 loss, Virginia dropped to a tie for first place in the ACC with Maryland at 3-1.
The final score does not do justice to what a blowout the game truly was. This was the first true road test for the Cavaliers, and they were exposed by a bigger, stronger Wake Forest squad. Early foul trouble for both Sylven Landesberg, who eventually fouled out of the game, and Mike Scott, led to a game that just got out of hand.Landesberg picked up his secound foul when trying to rebound his own miss at 12:28 in the first half. First year head coach Tony Bennett pulled Landesberg out of the game and kept him on the bench for the remainder of the half.
"When they started spreading the lead out, it was real nerve-racking," said Landesberg, last year's ACC rookie of the year. "I just wanted to get back in and help, but I couldn't."
Without the team's leading scorer, Virgina closed out the half in an 8+ minute scoring drought and down 34-15. Landesberg — who picked up his third foul less than a minute into the second half — ended the 10-minute field-goal drought on a runner to make it 36-17 with 18:47 left. He finished with 18 points to match his season average with a second-half flurry before fouling out with 2:18 left.
The Cavaliers' 15 points in the first half are their fewest in the first half since 11/29/93 vs. Connecticut (trailing 44-15).
The Cavaliers fell behind by as much as 24 in the second half, and closed it to within 10 after a 13-0 run by Virginia late in the second half.
"They do [the Pack-Line] well with their length, and this is their third year of playing this system defensively," Bennett said. "There just aren't as many holes in it as I saw on our end. As you get better defensively, your anticipation gets better, and you understand the focus of it, and they certainly did a nice job. I think my dad would probably disown me and claim Dino as his son after this game."
Virginia returns to action in John Paul Jones Arena this Thursday against in-state rival Virginia Tech. Tip-off for that game is 7:00p.m.