It was a game of ties and lead changes Saturday night against in-state rival Virginia Tech, but in the end, Virginia dropped the 61-55 contest in a decision that wasn't made until the final two minutes of the game. The Cavaliers fall to 14-8, 5-4 ACC as they continue this daunting stretch which includes four road trips in five games.
Virginia had the 51-48 lead with 1:51 to go before Hokies' Jeff Allen made a layup and converted it to a three point play after a Mike Scott foul. Thirty-three seconds later, Allen hit his fourth three-pointer of the season to take the lead for the final time, as the Hokies used a 13-4 run over the final 2 minutes to seal the victory.
Scott had his third consecutive double-double, with 20 points and 13 rebounds. This season, he has been shooting 53.2% from the field (109-205). Sylven Landesberg added 17 points and 6 rebounds, and is now averaging 18.0 points per game. Despite the all-around solid job at shutting down one of the ACC's top scorers in Malcolm Delaney, Virginia simply did not have the firepower that was necessary to beat NCAA Tournament-bound Virginia Tech.
But the Cavs don't have much time to dwell on this loss, as the team looks to face Maryland tonight in College Park after the original game was postponed last Wednesday due to inclement weather. They are staying at the Greenbelt Marriott, which Coach Bennett claims to have the best omelet bar he's ever had.
Maryland, who sits near the top of the ACC, simply needs to defend their home court to make it into the tournament. But Virginia is likely treating each game going forward as a must-win situation, as the 5-4 ACC team will need to finish out the final seven games strong in order to account for some bad out-of-conference losses and a generally weaker schedule. For Bennett, it doesn't matter if this game is in College Park or Charlottesville.
"If your system is solid, you hope that it can hold up in tough settings," Bennett said. "You hope that home or away, you can be competitive."
Maryland currently sits at 16-7, 6-3 ACC, and has won six of its last eight games. The Terrapins are led by senior guard Greivis Vasquez, who averages 18.0 points, 6.2 assists, 4.7 reboudns, and 1.5 steals per game, and is a strong contender for ACC Player of the Year. Maryland averages 79.1 points per game and allows 65.5, so it will be interesting to see how well Bennett's defense will hold up against this squad.
Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN360.com and the Virginia Sports Radio Network.