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Hoos Host Hokies in Thursday Night Battle

Jeff Jones, courtesy UVa Media RelationsIt wasn't the loss at Wake Forest that left fans in confusion, it was the way in which it happened.  On Thursday, Virginia hosts in-state rival Virginia Tech at John Paul Jones Arena.  Sylven Landesberg is no longer in foul trouble and Calvin Baker is back with the team.  Things are looking good already.  Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m.

The loss to Wake Forest on Saturday puts Virginia at 12-5 overall and 3-1 in the conference, still tied for first with Maryland.  Virginia Tech comes in as 15-3, 2-2 in the ACC. The Hokies narrowly escaped Boston College in Blacksburg by 63-62 last Saturday.

This is going to be a good matchup between the two squads.  The key for Virginia is to keep the pressure on Virginia Tech's offense.  Simply put, Virginia needs to contest every shot and not allow deep or even moderate penetration.  UVA's pack-the-line defense should be able to hold up against the Hokies' pull-the-trigger offense.

Virginia's the third best team in the country when it comes to protecting the ball, allowing just over 10 turnovers per game.  This statistic will be challenged tonight as Virginia Tech's defense is one that emphasizes creating steals and turnovers.  Sylven Landesberg and company will need to look to attack the screen if they plan on scoring some big points against these Hokies.

Perhaps this is restating the obvious, but a matchup of Landesberg against VT's Malcom Delaney could be troublesome if Delaney continues attacking, either on defense or on offense.  Landesberg, as we learned last game, can be prone to fouls, though I think Tony Bennett won't let him sit out for over twelve minutes in the first half again.  On the other hand, Delaney has been injured on and off this season, and his ankle may cause him troubles.  Delaney currently averages 19.5 points per game, leading the ACC in this category. 

Virginia Tech's Jeff Allen is a thug.The other big factor is, which Jeff Allen are we going to see tonight?  The junior forward averages 11.2 points per game and leads the Hokies in rebounding, at 7.8 a game. But he's proven to be among the streakiest of plays in the conference, and it's never sure who comes out of the locker room each half.

As a team Virginia Tech is averaging 72.3 points a game and allowing an average of 59.9 points a game. The Hokies are shooting 43.2 percent (457-1057) from the field, including 33.3 percent (92-276) from three-point range, and 68.6 percent (295-430) from the free-throw line. Virginia Tech ranks first in the conference in scoring defense.

Virginia leads the series with Virginia Tech 79-50, and the Cavaliers have a 32-10 advantage in games played in Charlottesville. UVa has won two of the three games played at John Paul Jones Arena in the series.

The game is televised on Comcast SportsNet.