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Terps, Williams travel to JPJ

Cavs face tough inside presence in sophomore Williams; guards will need to perform more consistently

The Virginia men's basketball team knows what to expect from the Maryland squad tonight at John Paul Jones Arena. The Cavaliers know to expect sophomore forward Jordan Williams to lead the way. What they do not know is who among the Cavaliers will take charge.\nVirginia (11-8, 2-3 ACC) has been plagued by inconsistency this season. The Cavaliers started the season 9-3 with impressive wins against then-No. 15 Minnesota and Virginia Tech before losing five of its last eight games, including a puzzling loss to an upstart Seattle team. Still, the team is heading into tonight's match after a 72-64 win against Georgia Tech Saturday.\nOne of the main reasons for the Cavaliers' instability is the lack of one dominant player to rely on each game. Senior guard Mustapha Farrakhan leads the team with 13 points per game followed by freshmen guards KT Harrell and Joe Harris with 10.5 and 10.3 respectively, but no one has established himself as the go-to guy for each game.\nIn fact, these averages can be deceptive, as individual performances fluctuate drastically from night to night. Farrakhan, for example, shot 7-14 for 18 points in a 50-49 win against Norfolk State only to go 1-12 for six points just two days later against Seattle. Harrell and Harris have encountered similar problems.\n"I can't always say, 'This guy needs to step up,'" Coach Tony Bennett said. "It's been different guys at different times who have led us. But when some of our veterans can play at a high level as Mustapha did against Georgia Tech, that's certainly very helpful."\nIn addition to inconsistent performances, Virginia has struggled to close out games effectively. The Cavaliers had halftime leads against both Duke and North Carolina, but fizzled in the second half of each game to lose both matchps.\n"We're still just trying to be as good as we can for the entire game," said Bennett, who has turned the team's focus to finishing strong. "We've had stretches of solid basketball and we're trying to put it together for a longer stretch."\nIn contrast, Maryland (12-7, 2-3 ACC) has a proven scorer in Williams, the 6-foot-10, 260-pound forward that has certainly made himself known this season. He has already set a school record with 13 consecutive double-doubles, the most recent of which came in Maryland's 79-77 win against Clemson Saturday. Averaging 17.6 points and 12.1 rebounds, Williams has established himself as one of the ACC's premier big men and has reached double figures in both scoring and rebounding in 17-of-19 games this season.\n"Jordan [is] a player who can really change a game when he gets going," Bennett said. "He presents problems just with his size, his touch, his ability to play on the glass. Somebody better do a good job of making him earn it. We have to be aware of him in all aspects of the game."\nWith senior forward Mike Scott sidelined for the season with an ankle injury, the Cavaliers most likely will look to 7-foot junior center Assane Sene to contain Williams. If Virginia can neutralize Williams' presence, the Terrapins will not have much to fall back on. Apart from Williams, only senior guard Cliff Tucker averages double figures in points with 11.6 per game.\nBoth teams enter tonight's game tied for fifth in the league, with the winner joining Clemson, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech in fourth place. For Maryland, Saturday's 79-77 win against Clemson helped wash away the aftertaste of the program's worst home defeat in 12 years when it fell to Virginia Tech Jan. 20, 74

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