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January 27, 2006Virginia (10-6, 4-2) at Duke (18-1, 6-0)
When: 7:00 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 28
Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium
Radio: Duke Radio Network
Series: Duke leads 106-47
Last Year: Jan. 16, 2005-@ DU 80, UVa. 66; Mar. 11, 2005- DU 76, UVa. 64
Dave Leitao is the 10th head coach in Virginia basketball history and has the Cavaliers playing much better than many preseason forecasters expected and riding a three game ACC winning streak after some bad early losses out of conference.
Taking over the Virginia program after stints at Northeastern and DePaul, Leitao has his team in position where they can legitemately think about a postseason tournament berth if they can tread water over the next four games, which include road trips to Duke, NC State, and Maryland wedged around a home tussle with Wake Forest.
Leitao has amassed a 90-75 overall record in five plus seasons as a head coach and guided DePaul to three straight postseason appearances during his tenure with the Blue Demons.
Liberty W 79-44
at Richmond W 59-43
at Arizona L 81-51
Northwestern W 72-57
at Georgia Tech L 63-54
Fordham L 62-60
at Gonzaga L 80-69
Loyola (Md.) W 98-59
UMBC W 77-66
Hartford W 71-62
at Western Kentucky L 78-68
Clemson W 64-58
Florida State L 87-82 (OT)
at Virginia Tech W 54-49
North Carolina W 72-68
Miami W 71-51
Did you know...?
Duke and Virginia rank 1-2 in the ACC in field goal percentage defense. The Blue Devils lead the league by allowing just 27.2 percent from three point range while Virginia is second at 29.4 percent.
Virginia ranks last in the ACC in steals with only 5.3 per contest and also rank last in assist-to-turnover ratio at 0.78
Virginia's Sean Singletary ranks in the ACC's top 10 in six statistical categories.
Of Josh McRoberts' 59 made field goals this season, 24 of them have been dunks.
ALL EYES ON...
Sean Singletary-Singletary is the engine that makes the Cavaliers go. Easily one of the best players in the ACC and many observers choice as the league's top point guard, Singletary can do a little of everything to help his team. In his last seven games, he has averaged better than 21 points a game. His assist-to-turnover ratio isn't as good as it could be, but he makes up for it with his scoring. Virginia's best chance for an upset is to put the game in Singletary's hands and let him try to break down Duke's defense off the dribble. If he can penetrate the lane, he is capable of taking a game over. Singletary could very well be on the floor for 40 minutes against Duke. He's averaging 37 minutes a game in ACC play.
J.R. Reynolds-The junior guard from Oak Hill Academy teams with Singletary to form a very formidable backcourt. He was given freshman All-ACC honors two years ago had an up and down sophomore campaign. Now in his third year, he's a big reason why Virginia has been able to exceed several expectations. He has good shooting range and is capable of big nights, such as his 32 point performance in the conference tournament last year against Miami. If Singletary can get in the lane, Reynolds will be waiting for kickout opportunities.
Adrian Joseph-The 6-foot-7 slashing forward has more than doubled his production of a year ago. As a physically more mature sophomore, he's averaging double figures and giving Virginia another versatile threat from either inside or outside, though he will hoist more than his fair share of perimeter jumpers. He has started five of six league games and has had some good moments. Virginia could use some more activity from him on the glass, where the Cavs have been getting outrebounded in league play.
Tunji Soroye-A long and slender sophomore, the 6-foot-11 Nigerian is basically a non factor on the offensive end of the floor. He's anything but absent on defense however, where he's blocked 37 shots to easily lead the team. Some of those blocks come because he has a tendency to leave his feet too often though, evidenced by his frequent foul trouble (fouled out of seven games). Duke fans may remember Soroye from last year's ACC Tournament, when he blocked five shots and yanked six rebounds in 21 minutes of action.
Jason Cain-Cain has bulked up a bit since last year, getting his 6-foot-10 frame up to more than 200 pounds. That has allowed him to be more effective on the boards, as he has upped his rebounding average to just below eight. He's seen increased minutes in conference play. He's not a good free throw shooter but he has been hitting nearly 55 percent from the field in league play.
Mamadi Diane has given Virginia a good boost as a freshman. The 6-foot-5 Diane comes from storied DeMatha High School and has made himself an immediate factor. He logs about 20-25 minutes per game and gives the Cavaliers an added versatile defender on the perimeter. His offensive game is still pretty raw. Laurynas Mikalauskas is the first Lithuanian to play at Virginia. He has emerged as a strong factor in the last two games, averaging 11 points and 6.5 rebounds in victories over North Carolina and Miami. He's a physical presence with rare beef for a European player at 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds. T.J. Bannister and Billy Campbell are both upper classmen guards who will likely see time on the perimeter, but neither is an offensive threat.
Analysis and prediction
The key for Duke will be to establish Shelden Williams on the low block, much like they did at Virginia Tech Thursday night. Virginia lacks beef inside and The Landlord could very well have his way if he gets the ball enough.
Defensively, the Devils could run into some trouble if they can't stop Singletary's incredible playmaking skills. The Devils have had problems keeping quick guards out of the lane, and Singletary could very well be the best one Duke has faced this year.
This game will likely be played with a defensive tilt to it, as both teams excel at stopping the three point shot and both teams have held conference foes to right at 40 percent field goal shooting.
Duke will win the game if they get standard production from Williams and pound the offensive glass against a size challenged opponent. McRoberts could be on tap for another big game following his solid showing at Virginia Tech.
Singletary and Reynolds are talented enough to keep this game interesting, but Duke will fend them off before the home crowd at Cameron.