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Team looks to reverse course

Georgia Tech comes in riding wave of momentum; Virginia players preach sustained 40-minute effort

The Virginia men's basketball team will aim to finish the game strong tomorrow against a team that is starting to get hot.

The Cavaliers (10-8, 1-3 ACC) host Georgia Tech (9-8, 2-2 ACC) at noon and will try to rectify their season after three straight losses in which they have surrendered leads. Against North Carolina Jan. 8, Virginia was leading by as many as 11 points before falling, 62-56. A week later versus Duke, the Cavaliers took the largest halftime lead the Blue Devils have surrendered so far this season but slumped during the second half and lost, 76-60.

The squad almost mounted a comeback of its own against Boston College Wednesday, taking a second-half lead after trailing by 13 points. Virginia fell short yet again, though, and enters tomorrow's game knowing it needs consistent intensity to find success in ACC play.

"We have to be ready to defend, stick to our principles throughout the whole game and don't yield for any part of the game," redshirt junior guard Sammy Zeglinski said.

Playing well for "the whole game" will be even more essential tomorrow against a resurgent Georgia Tech team. After experiencing some early season struggles, the Yellow Jackets ride into John Paul Jones Arena high on convincing back-to-back conference wins. Georgia Tech bested the Tar Heels by 20 points Jan. 16 and just posted the most one-sided ACC win in program history, a 35-point blowout against Wake Forest.

Sophomore guard Glen Rice, Jr. and junior guard Iman Shumpert captained Georgia Tech's win against Wake Forest, with 23 and 21 points, respectively. Rice, Jr. is the son of former NBA player Glen Rice and appears to have inherited some of his father's talent, shooting better than 50 percent from the field and averaging 13.4 points, 2.8 assists and 5.1 rebounds a game. Shumpert stars for the Yellow Jackets, leading the team with 16.4 points, 3.1 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Virginia's top scorer, senior guard Mustapha Farrakhan, averages 12.4 points per game. Freshmen guards Joe Harris and KT Harrell have contributed 10.3 and 10.2 points per night during their impressive rookie campaigns. But it might be sophomore guard Jontel Evans who orchestrates the scoring against Georgia Tech.

"We'll get on the glass or make the next pass when [Evans] touches the paint," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "He's been good for us getting to the lane, probably our best at that, and has been backing it up with some good decisions."

Evans' good decisions have translated into 3.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game, numbers that lead the Virginia team. His ability to create open shots will be crucial against a Georgia Tech defense that held Wake Forest to just 39 points.

Last year, Virginia's strong shooting and sustained effort earned the team a 82-75 win against then-No. 20 Georgia Tech. The Cavaliers weathered 15 separate lead changes, using a 16-4 run late in the second half to ultimately finish on top.

Zeglinski sparked that big run with a three-pointer when the team trailed 55-51. This year, he hopes the team can forget about its recent second half letdowns and play a complete game.

"We have to play 40 minutes," Zeglinski said. "Just play a good 40 minutes"


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