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Cavs play final matches of Challenge this week

No. 5 Kentucky or Cleveland State will face team in Cancun following tomorrow

November 21; Charlottesville, VA USA; Virginia forward Mike Scott shoots against ORU. Virginia defeated Oral Roberts University 76-55.
November 21; Charlottesville, VA USA; Virginia forward Mike Scott shoots against ORU. Virginia defeated Oral Roberts University 76-55.

Virginia will travel to Cancun during Thanksgiving Break to play its final two games of the Cancun Challenge. After having defeated Rider and Oral Roberts at John Paul Jones Arena last week, the Cavaliers will face Stanford tomorrow and then either Cleveland State or Kentucky on Wednesday.

Which team Virginia will face later in the week is dependent on which of the four teams emerge with wins tomorrow. The winner of the Virginia-Stanford game will play the winner of the Kentucky-Cleveland State game, while the losers of those two games will meet in a final match Wednesday.

The Cardinal are coming off a 99-69 rout of Florida A&M and will look to improve their current .500 record with a win against Virginia (3-1, 0-0).

"We are going to watch film on them and see what they are all about," sophomore guard Sammy Zeglinski said. "We are going to go in there and keep playing the way we've been playing defensively and try to compete."

If the Cavaliers wish to continue their success at the Cancun Challenge, they must contain sophomore guard Jeremy Green, who scored a season-high 21 points while grabbing eight boards and going four-for-seven from beyond the arc in the Cardinal's victory against Florida A&M.

Against Oral Roberts last week, the Cavaliers had trouble containing the three and allowed the Golden Eagles to shoot 7-for-11 from long distance in the first half. In the second period, though, Virginia clamped down and held its opponent to 0-for-6 on three-point attempts - a change partially effected by the addition of sophomore center Assane Sene to the lineup.

"That's where I thought [Sene] helped us, is where we didn't have to trap the post," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "We could play a little more one on one in the post and stay at home on shooter."

Sene, who was suspended the first three games of the season for conduct detrimental to the team, saw limited playing time as a result of both a sprained ankle suffered in practice and foul trouble. Nevertheless, in only 13 minutes he posted seven rebounds and a career-high eight points, while bolstering the Cavaliers' defense in the paint.

Against Stanford, Sene must try to avoid his seemingly persistent foul trouble, so that Virginia's frontcourt can do its best to contain senior forward Landry Fields. Fields, who posted his sixth career double-double in Stanford's game against Florida A&M, will try to capitalize on his overall athleticism and versatility off the dribble against the Cavaliers.

"They've got a very fine player in Landry Fields," Bennett said. "He's terrific. I watched the Stanford game - they were off in the game that I watched them. They are capable. They sometimes use four guards. They'll be solid. Hopefully, we'll play a solid brand of basketball."

After its game against Stanford, Virginia will play the winner of the Kentucky-Cleveland State game the very next day.

"I almost feel like an NBA team [having] as many games as we are playing with not a lot of rest," Bennett said. "So we will hopefully be energized."

A lack of downtime, though, might seem like only a slight obstacle in comparison should Virginia face Kentucky. The No. 5 Wildcats possess a level of all-around talent and quickness that the Cavaliers have yet to encounter this season, and are expected to easily make their way past Cleveland State.

"They're definitely going to be the best team we've played so far," sophomore guard Sylven Landesberg said. "What we've been doing is great, but for a team like Kentucky, we're definitely going to have to step it up another level."

Kentucky is not only the best team Virginia would play thus far, but also currently the highest ranked team on the squad's entire schedule. With the Cavaliers' ACC schedule still weeks away, a showdown with the Wildcats could be an early opportunity for the Cavaliers to gauge where they stand in relation to the nation's most recognizable teams.


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