Jan. 8, 1998

Virginia to Face Top-Ranked North Carolina

Virginia at North Carolina
January 10, 1998 at 1:30 p.m.
Dean E. Smith Center
Chapel Hill, N.C.

Virginia (1997-98 record: 8-6 overall/1-1 in the ACC) plays top-ranked North Carolina this Saturday (Jan. 10) at 1:30 p.m. at the Dean Smith Center.

Television: Saturday's game is being televised by on the Raycom/Jefferson-Pilot ACC network and on ESPN2.

Radio: All UVa games are heard on the Virginia Sports Network originating at WINA/WQMZ in Charlottesville. Mac McDonald calls the play by play. Jim Hobgood provides the analysis.

The Series vs. the Tar Heels

North Carolina leads the all-time series with the Cavaliers 109-40. The Tar Heels have dominated the series in games played in Chapel Hill, winning 54 of the 57 meetings. The Cavaliers are winless at the Smith Center (0-12). Virginia's wins in Chapel Hill occurred on: February 24, 1911 - UVa 18, UNC 15; January 25, 1973 - UVa 84, UNC 78; and February 3, 1981 - UVa 80, UNC 79 in overtime.

Attempting to End Smith Center Drought

The Cavaliers try to reverse a trend by winning in Chapel Hill Saturday afternoon. The Cavaliers have not won on the Tar Heels' home court since an 80-79 overtime win at Carmichael Auditorium on February 3, 1981. The Smith Center has not been a successful arena for the Cavaliers as their 0-12 all-time record attests. Virginia has suffered from some scoring droughts in the Smith Center through the years. The Cavaliers have scored fewer than 70 points in six of their last seven games in the Smith Center. The Cavaliers average 64.8 points per game against UNC at the Smith Center, while the Tar Heels average 79.8 vs. UVa. Virginia has shot better than 42 percent from the field at the Smith Center only once (50.8 percent in 1985-86) and is shooting 38.6 percent all-time in the building. Carolina is shooting 49.8 percent all-time against UVa at the Smith Center and has shot at least 50 percent six times.

Keys to the Game

Virginia needs to shoot the ball well Saturday afternoon to help its chances to win. The Cavaliers are 4-14 against North Carolina under head coach Jeff Jones, but are 3-1 when they out-shoot the Tar Heels. The Wahoos are 1-13 when the Tar Heels out-shoot them. A look at the two teams' field goal percentages over the last seven seasons is below. The winner is listed in bold.

Year/Site   UNC UVa
1990-91
UVa         .464    .400
UNC         .500    .356
ACC Trn.    .471    .400
1991-92 
UNC         .533    .362
UVa         .446    .472
1992-93 
UNC         .476    .400
UVa         .474    .313
ACC Trn.    .379    .414
1993-94
UVa         .462    .483
UNC         .390    .309
ACC Trn.    .491    .403
1994-95
UNC         .482    .418
UVa         .452    .439
1995-96 
UVa         .386    .322
UNC         .471    .400
1996-97
UVa         .385    .481
UNC         .517    .355
ACC Trn.    .519    .371
During Jones' Career:
Combined    .458    .393
UVa wins    .436    .468
UVa losses  .465    .373
Cavaliers Face the Nation's Top-Ranked Team

The North Carolina game is just Virginia's third conference game of the season. In an odd twist, this marks the second time this season the Cavaliers have faced the nation's #1 team on the road in a league game.

Virginia lost at Duke 103-59 on December 6 in its ACC opener when the Blue Devils sat atop the polls.

This is the 18th time in school history the Cavaliers have played the #1 team in the nation.

The Cavaliers have not fared well against top-ranked teams, posting a 1-16 all-time record. Virginia's lone win over the #1 team was an 86-73 win over North Carolina in Charlottesville on January 30, 1986.

Virginia has faced North Carolina eight times when the Tar Heels were ranked number one and have lost eight.

For those who are curious--Virginia's 77-69 win over #3 Duke on Jan. 17, 1993 is the highest ranked team the Cavaliers have ever beaten on the road.

A look at Virginia's games against North Carolina when the Tar Heels were ranked #1 is below.

Date    Site                    Result
2/11/57 UVa UNC,                 68-59
1/9/82  UNC UNC,                 65-60
3/7/82  Greensboro (ACC Trn.)UNC, 47-45
2/10/83 UNC UNC,                64-63
1/18/84 UNC UNC,                69-66
2/9/84  UVa UNC,                85-72
1/30/86 UVa UVa,                86-73
3/13/93 Charlotte (ACC Trn.)UNC, 74-56
Staples Fires Blanks in Personal Nightmare

Sharp-shooter Curtis Staples labelled his performance in the loss to Liberty Wednesday night as the worst night of his career. To review briefly, Staples scored two points and missed all eight field goal attempts, including seven three-point attempts. His two points are tied for the third-lowest total of his career. He was held scoreless twice during his freshman season (by Old Dominion and Wake Forest). The game was just the seventh of his career in which he failed to make at least one three-point basket. Two occurred last season, while four came during his freshman season. Staples is Virginia's second-leading scorer, averaging 17.5 points per game.

Field Goal Shooting Improves this Season

Virginia has not been known recently for its field goal shooting proclivity, but so far this season the Cavaliers are shooting 46.0 percent from the field. This is a marked improvement from last season's mark of 42.7 percent. Virginia has topped the 40-percent mark in every game this season. The season high is 58.9 percent vs. VMI on December 22, while the low is 41.0 percent vs. New Mexico State. Last season UVa topped 45 percent 12 times in 31 games, and shot less than 40 percent from the field in 10 contests. Already this season Virginia has topped 45 percent nine times in 14 games. The Cavaliers' field goal shooting percentage this season is their best since shooting 46.0 percent in 1988-89.

Virginia Wins with Defense

UVa has built a reputation for outstanding defensive play over the last 20 years and the tradition continues this season. Virginia's opponents have shot 50 percent or better from the field in only 16 of the last 176 games dating back to the 1991-92 season. Virginia's defensive statistics under head coach Jeff Jones are listed below.

Year    FG% D   PPG allowed
1990-91  .442   68.5
1991-92  .424   65.2
1992-93  .405   69.3
1993-94  .394   65.7
1994-95  .390   66.8
1995-96  .394   68.8
1996-97  .409   65.0
1997-98  .393   66.9
Jones' career    .408   67.0
Two Nearing Scoring Milestones

Curtis Staples and Norman Nolan are both nearing career scoring milestones. Staples has scored 1459 points in his career and needs 41 points to become the 11th player in school history to score at least 1500 points. He is 12th on UVa's all-time points list. Nolan needs 20 points to become the 32nd Cavalier to score 1000 career points. With 980 career points, he is 35th on the school's all-time list.

Cavaliers Must Cut Down on Turnovers

Turnovers are one thing that drive basketball coaches crazy. And this season turnovers have been a big bugaboo for head coach Jeff Jones and his staff as the Cavaliers are averaging 17.5 turnovers per game and have three games of 20+ turnovers. The Cavaliers have 77 more turnovers than the opposition so far this season. They have also attempted 50 fewer shots despite having more offensive rebounds than their opponents. An inability to maximize their scoring chances has doomed the Cavaliers in several games this season as they have lost two games by five points, and others by four and 11 points. Strangely, two of Virginia's three-lowest turnover totals have occurred in losses. The Cavaliers turned the ball over just 12 times against Richmond in the opener, but the Spiders scored 12 points off those turnovers and won by four points in double overtime. Wednesday, the Cavaliers turned the ball over 12 times against Liberty. However, the Flames turned the extra possessions into 18 points and won by five points. Overall this season the Cavaliers have a 0.88:1 assists-to-turnover ratio. Virginia has had more turnovers than assists in each of the last two seasons.

Nolan and Staples Provide Scoring Punch

As Virginia's leading returning scorers, it is no surprise that Norman Nolan and Curtis Staples have carried the scoring load this season. Through 14 games one of the two has led Virginia in scoring in each game. Nolan leads the team in scoring, averaging 20.6 points per game. The senior from Baltimore, Md., turned in a fabulous Rainbow Classic in Hawaii last week. He led the Cavaliers in scoring and rebounding in all three games, registering "double doubles" in all three contests. Since returning to the mainland, Nolan hasn't showed any signs of slowing down by scoring 31 and 30 points in the last two games. Staples had a rough night the last time out against Liberty, scoring just two points. Still, he is the only other Cavalier in double figures, averaging 17.5 points per game He paced the Cavaliers in the two games leading up to the trip to Hawaii with 20 points against VCU and 23 vs. VMI. Between them, Staples and Nolan have scored more than half of Virginia's points this season (534 of 967).

Staples Shoots for ACC Record

Curtis Staples is known as one of the top three-point shooters in the nation. So far this season he is living up to his reputation, leading the nation with an average of 4.0 three-pointers per game. He has led the Cavaliers in scoring four times, reaching the 20-point plateau each time. Staples has tossed in at least five three-pointers in seven games this season, including a season-best seven threes in the opener against Richmond. In that game he connected on seven of 15 from behind the arc and scored 26 points. He is eighth in NCAA history (and second in ACC history) with 339 career three-point field goals. His place on the NCAA and ACC career three-point lists is below.

NCAA    ACC Player, school, years   3FGM
    1.  Keith Veney, Lamar/Marshall, 93-97  409
    2.  Doug Day, Radford, 1990-93  401
    3.  Ronnie Schmitz, Mo.-K.C., 89-93 378
    4.  Mark Alberts, Akron, 1988-93    375
    5.  Jeff Fryer, Loyola Marymount, 87-90 363
    6.  Dennis Scott, Ga. Tech, 1988-90 351
    7.  Allan Houston, Tennessee, 1989-93   346
    8.  Curtis Staples, Virginia, 1995-98   339
Nolan Leads ACC in "Double Doubles"

Counted on to carry the scoring and rebounding load inside for the Cavaliers, Norman Nolan is excelling in both areas this season in what is shaping up to be the best season of his career. He is among the top-five in the ACC in scoring--third, averaging 20.6 ppg--and in rebounding--fourth, averaging 9.0 rpg. He is tied with Georgia Tech's Matt Harpring for the ACC lead with nine "double doubles." Nolan had six "double doubles" last season and now has 19 for his career. He turned in a fabulous Rainbow Classic last week in Hawaii, recording "double doubles" in all three Virginia games. Upon his return to the mainland, Nolan picked up where he left off in Hawaii by tying his career-high of 31 points against Wake Forest last Sunday. He also pulled down 12 rebounds for his fourth consecutive "double double." His "double double" streak ended at four Wednesday against Liberty when he scored 30 points and grabbed eight boards. His play in the last five games is outlined below.

                FG      FT      Reb.    Pts.
Nebraska        10-22   3-6     11      23
Brigham Young   10-16   4-8     10      24
New Mexico St.  8-19    8-10    10      24
Wake Forest     14-24   3-4     12      31
Liberty         11-17   8-10    8       30
Last 5 avg.     54.1%   68.4%   10.2    26.4
Season Avg.     54.8%   59.0%   9.0     20.6