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Team travels for Paradise Jam play

Horned Frogs await in tournament

The Virginia men's basketball team will take its talents south of South Beach this weekend as it travels to the Caribbean for the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam.

The Cavaliers (2-0) come off wins this week against South Carolina State and Winthrop and hope to extend the streak this weekend. The tournament features eight teams from around the country, including No. 19 Marquette, which made a Sweet 16 appearance in last year's NCAA Tournament after upsetting No. 3-seeded Syracuse.

Virginia outscored its opponents by 58 points in their first two games and five Cavaliers have already posted 10-point performances. Virginia trailed 44-41 against Winthrop with 10:30 remaining last Tuesday, however, after initially struggling against the Eagles' zone defense.

"Early in the season, zones are usually more effective," coach Tony Bennett said. "Most of your preseason, most people are working against man and gimmick things work."

During the final 10 minutes against Winthrop, however, the Cavaliers' defense shined, allowing only four points while the offense put up 28 during that stretch.

"It's got to start with our defense because that's our bread and butter," junior guard Jontel Evans said. "Once we got stops on the defensive end that led to buckets."

Virginia opens the tournament tonight against Texas Christian University, currently one of the top offensive teams in the country. TCU (2-0) ranks No. 24 in the nation in points per game and No. 6 in assists per game, so the Virginia defense will need to continue its shutdown play during the opening round.

"It will be a good tournament," Bennett said. "Every team there is very good and very athletic, starting with TCU. Most of the teams are very strong ... I just hope we continue to establish that mindset that we had in the second half [of the Winthrop game]."

After playing TCU, Virginia will face either Drexel or Norfolk State. Drexel (1-0) is coming off a victory against Rider in which it hauled in an impressive 45 rebounds and 20 second chance points.

Norfolk State (1-1) lost its season opener against Marquette (2-0) but rebounded with a win against Division III opponent Randolph College. Marquette is the only team in the tournament ranked in the USA Today Coaches Poll and ranks No. 9 in the country in points per game, No. 2 in assists per game and No. 10 in field goal percentage.

As Virginia faces relatively stiffer competition this weekend, senior guard Sammy Zeglinski hopes to return after sitting out for the team's first two games with a minor ankle injury. Last season, Zeglinski played in 24 games and ranked fifth on the team in points per game, and the Cavaliers especially missed his presence against Winthrop.

"I hope we have Sammy," Bennett said. "You could see we were a little uneasy and needed some calming hands and maturity out there in that first half. Sammy certainly brings that. He is progressing, so we'll see where that goes."

Other competitors in the Paradise Jam include Winthrop, Drake and Mississippi. Virginia tips off against TCU tonight at 6 p.m. and will play a total of three teams this weekend.