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November 12, 2006If you didn't know better, you have thought the ending was scripted. Virginia, playing its first regular season game in its shiny new 15,000-seat facility, overcame a 13-point halftime deficit to rally past 10th-ranked Arizona at the John Paul Jones Arena. Sean Singletary led the Cavaliers with 25 points and sis assists, while Mamadi Diane played the role of unlikely hero with 25 points of his own in the victory.
The Wildcats used an 18-2 run in the opening half to seize control of the game and eventually would lead 45-26 at one point.
UVa clawed back to within 13 at the half and then dominated the action after halftime.
"We wanted to attack and be physical," said Singletary of the second-half rally. "They had great scorers, but they didn't want to defend and I'm not sure they wanted to be physical."
Virginia got within five twice early in the final 20 minutes and took the lead for the first time since early in the game when Diane banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 80-79 with 5:43 to play.
"I called it after if it was halfway there," said Diane with a laugh of his bank shot.
The Cavaliers (1-0) would trail only one more time after that, and they hit 8 of 10 foul shots in the final 4:11 to seal the win.
"On a night like this, I couldn't be any prouder to be the coach of this basketball program," UVa coach Dave Leitao said. "I didn't anticipate a 93-90 game, but I'll obviously take it. And again, I could be wrong, but I think we played one of the very best teams in the nation today."
The Cavaliers scored 57 points in second half and shot 59 percent from the field to post the come-from-behind win. They also got to the foul line 28 times after halftime, making 21.
"We need to learn to play defense without fouling," Wildcats coach Lute Olson said. "We just need to do a much better job with the foul situation."
Jason Cain added 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavaliers, while J.R. Reynolds, who was only cleared to play 30 minutes before tip-off because of an eye injury, scored all 10 of his points after halftime.
For Arizona, Ivan Radenovic poured in a team-high 24 points, while Marcus Williams and Jawann McClellan each added 18.
"We just went out there with the desire to win, and we knew what we needed to do," said Diane, who was 8 of 9 from the floor and 5-for-6 from 3-point range. "We played hard, and it's a great win. But we still realize it's only our first game of the season."