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Virginia seeks revenge against in-state rival

Squad must improve defensive play to shut down Delaney

As the Cavaliers head to Blacksburg tomorrow, they will look to avenge a loss earlier this season to Virginia Tech, during which they saw a 10-point lead dissipate during the game's second half. The Hokies carried this momentum into the game's overtime period, burying the Cavaliers 76-71.

The disappointment was just one of many for Virginia (14-7, 5-3 ACC), as five of the team's seven losses have been by five points or less.

"In order to win, you have to eliminate losing," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "And what will get you beaten? Second-chance points, silly turnovers and giving up transition baskets."

Despite these errors, the Cavaliers are much improved from last year's team, which finished the season 10-18.

"We have a different coaching staff, a new attitude," freshman guard Jontel Evans said. "I think our attitude has changed from last year."

With Bennett's tutelage, the team also has seen substantial progress on defense. The Cavaliers have transformed their ACC-worst defense to the conference's best, limiting opponents to just 61 points per game.

Tomorrow, Virginia will try to lock up the conference's leading scorer, Malcolm Delaney, who has torched defenses for 20 points per game this season. The Hokies (19-4. 6-3 ACC), which thus far are undefeated at home, will enter the matchup riding a three-game win streak. To shut down Delaney and the rest of the squad, Virginia knows it must take its defensive play to an even higher level.\n"We gotta do a better job of boxing out and we have to get the ball out of the paint," senior forward Jerome Meyinsse said.

Although dominant defensively, the Cavaliers have been lackluster on the offensive end, currently ranking 11th among ACC teams with just 69.6 points per game. Sophomore guard Sylven Landesberg has been a rare bright spot in terms of scoring, posting an impressive 18.1 points per game.

Evans, though undeniably strong on the defensive end, has managed just 2.7 points per game this season, struggling to find an open look or an easy lay-in.

"Offensively, I just gotta keep workin' on my shots," Evans said. "You know guys are starting to play off me [and are] not respecting the jumpshot."

The Cavaliers will need to bring it to the Hokies on both sides of the floor tomorrow, as the team hopes to leap-frog its arch-rival, which currently sits a half-game ahead of Virginia in the conference standings.