The Series vs. Virginia Tech
Virginia leads the series with Virginia Tech 67-44. The Cavaliers defeated the Hokies 58-57 in Richmond last season, and have won seven of the last nine meetings and 18 of the last 23. UVa leads 12-5 in games played in Roanoke in the series.
Since the Roanoke Civic Center opened for the 1971-72 season, Virginia has won eight of 12 games against the Hokies in the building. Against all opponents at the Roanoke Civic Center Virginia is 11-4 (.733).
This is the 64th consecutive season the Cavaliers and Hokies have met (every season since 1934-35). They have played 91 games in that span. Virginia's next oldest opponent in terms of consecutive seasons played is Maryland (51 straight seasons).
The Cavaliers' 67 wins against Virginia Tech make the Hokies Virginia's second-most defeated opponent in school history. UVa has defeated VMI a record 95 times.
This is the 112th meeting in the series, the fourth-most played series in school history. North Carolina is Virginia's most frequent opponent with the two teams having met 150 times.
Don't Be Surprised By the Unusual Tonight
Virginia and Virginia Tech have hooked up in some interesting games and wild finishes through the years.
The Cavaliers won 58-57 last season in Richmond in a game that hinged on the last shot. The Hokies had two opportunities to win in the last 10 seconds, but weren't able to connect. Brendan Dunlop missed a runner in the lane, but got the rebound and called timeout following a mad scramble with five seconds left. With time running down, Tech's Jim Jackson drove into the lane and lost control of the ball. Norman Nolan grabbed the ball as Virginia held on to win.
Virginia's 63-62 victory three years ago in Richmond was a tight contest throughout. Harold Deane's running jumper in the lane with 17.2 seconds remaining proved to be the winning basket for UVa. The Hokies' Shawn Smith had a chance to win it for Tech in the final seconds, but his jumper rimmed out and Tech could not control the rebound as time expired.
Jason Williford was Virginia's hero in that game. Playing in his final college game in his hometown, he brought the Cavaliers back from a seven-point deficit in the game's final 2:34. He scored eight of Virginia's last 10 points in the final two minutes to rally the Cavaliers. He made a steal in the backcourt, converted it into a lay-up, drew a foul and hit the ensuing free throw with 53.8 seconds left to put UVa ahead for just the second time in the second half at 61-60. Tech's Ace Custis made two free throws with 34.3 seconds left to set the stage for Deane's game-winning basket.
Virginia shot over 50 percent from the field only once during the 1993-94 season, but it came in a 70-61 win over the Hokies in Roanoke. The Cavaliers shot 51.1 percent in defeating the Hokies.
The 1989 meeting played at the Richmond Coliseum is the second-highest scoring game in UVa history. The Cavaliers needed overtime, but posted a 113-106 win.
Virginia built a 16-point lead early in the second half of the 1993 game in Richmond, but scored only 12 points in the final 16 minutes and dropped a 59-53 decision to the Hokies. The Cavaliers made five field goals in the second half, including three in the final 18 minutes.
Virginia posted a 61-57 double overtime win at the Roanoke Civic Center in 1992. The Cavaliers shot 33.3 percent from the field for the game and managed to pull out the win.
That was the lowest Virginia had shot and won since January 12, 1977. On that day, the Cavaliers shot 28.9 percent (13 of 45) in a 55-50 win over ... Virginia Tech.
No Conclusions Based on Common Opponents
The Cavaliers and Hokies have four common opponents this season, but you can't make any prediction about the outcome of tonight's game based on those games.
Both teams have faced Liberty, North Carolina, VMI and William & Mary.
Common results show both schools defeated William & Mary and lost to North Carolina.
The Cavaliers and Hokies diverge greatly in their results against VMI and Liberty.
The Cavaliers turned in one of their best all-around performances of the season in defeating VMI 92-55 on December 22, while the Hokies lost to the Keydets 73-65 on New Year's Eve.
Virginia Tech gained a big 80-47 win over Liberty on December 1, but the Cavaliers fell to the Flames 69-64 last Wednesday.
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 45.8 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 15 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 177 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 .398 67.9
Jones' career .408 67.1
Nolan Tops 1000, Staples Nears 1500
Norman Nolan has been on fire offensively since Christmas, averaging 26.8 points per game since Santa Claus made his rounds.
His hot streak has enabled him to become the 32nd player in school history to score 1000 career points. He is 32nd in Virginia history with 1009 points.
Curtis Staples is 21 points away from becoming the 11th player in school history to score at least 1500 points. He is 11th on UVa's all-time scoring list with 1479 points.
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 17.2 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 33 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, eight 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.
Last 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 0.89:1 assists-to-turnover ratio.
Virginia has had more turnovers than assists in each of the last two seasons.
Nolan Sizzles on the Offensive End
Norman Nolan has been hot on the offensive end since Christmas, averaging 26.8 points per game since the holiday.
He has scored 31, 30 and 29 points in his last three outings.
He became the first Cavalier since Junior Burrough to score 30+ points in back-to-back games when he scored 31 points against Wake Forest and 30 against Liberty. (Burrough did it in the ACC Tournament during his senior season in 1994-95.)
Nolan scored 29 points Saturday against North Carolina and fell just short of joining UVa scoring great Buzzy Wilkinson as the only players in school history to post three consecutive 30-point outings.
Wilkinson had four streaks of at least three 30-point games in his career. He had two six-game streaks, a five-game streak and a three-game streak.
He ended his career with the three-game streak in 1955, the most recent time a Cavalier topped 30 points three games in a row.
Nolan 11th in School History
Norman Nolan has led Virginia in rebounding the last two seasons and is bidding to lead for the third consecutive season in 1998. So far he holds a wide lead in the team rebounding race with an 8.9 rebounds per game average.
If he leads the team in rebounding again this season he would be the first Cavalier since Ralph Sampson to pace the team for three straight seasons. Sampson led all four years from 1980-83.
Nolan has grabbed 623 rebounds in his career, 11th in school history. Wally Walker is currently 10th with 665 career boards.
Staples Closing in On 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 4.1 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 eight 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 344 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. 1. Dennis Scott, Ga. Tech, 1988-90 351
7. Allan Houston, Tennessee, 1989-93 346
8. 2. Curtis Staples, Virginia, 1995-98 344
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 was among the top-five in the ACC in scoring--third, averaging 21.2 ppg--and in rebounding--fourth, averaging 8.9 rpg entering Saturday's games.
He was also 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 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 eight days ago. He also pulled down 12 rebounds for his fourth consecutive "double double."
His "double double" streak ended at four last Wednesday against Liberty when he scored 30 points and grabbed eight boards.
He just missed getting back into the "double double" column again Saturday vs. top-ranked North Carolina, but still led the team with 29 points and eight rebounds.
His play in the last six 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
North Carolina 11-20 7-9 8 29
Last 6 avg. 54.2% 70.2% 9.8 26.8
Season Avg. 54.8% 60.9% 8.9 21.2
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.
One of the two has led Virginia in scoring in every game this season. There have been 12 games this season where the duo has ranked 1-2 in scoring.
Nolan leads the team in scoring, averaging 21.2 points per game.
The senior from Baltimore, Md., turned in a fabulous Rainbow Classic in Hawaii recently. 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, 30 and 29 points in the last three games.
Staples had a rough night against Liberty, scoring just two points, but bounced back with a 20-point effort against top-ranked North Carolina on Saturday. He is the only other Cavalier in double figures, averaging 17.7 points per game
He paced Virginia 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 (583 of 1040).
Staples Works on the Boards
Curtis Staples has a well-deserved reputation as one of the nation's top long-range shooters, but an overlooked aspect of his game is his rebounding ability.
Standing just 6-3, Staples is second on the team in rebounding this season with a 4.8 rebounding average. His average should come as no surprise as his 4.6 rpg mark was second among ACC guards last season.
He tied his career high with a team-leading nine caroms against Delaware on November 25. He nearly equalled that performance with eight rebounds against Duke on December 6. His eight rebounds were more than any Duke player had in the game.
In the last 30 years, Cornel Parker is the only Cavalier perimeter player to average more than five rebounds per game in a season. A 6-7 swingman, Parker averaged 6.9 boards per game in 1992-93.
Nolan Shines in Hawaii
With many NBA scouts in attendance at the Rainbow Classic in Hawaii, power forward Norman Nolan picked the perfect opportunity to have three of the best performances of his career.
He began the tournament with a 23-point, 11-rebound effort against Nebraska in the first round. Two days later against Brigham Young he scored a game-high 24 points and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds in a 72-54 Virginia win. New Mexico State didn't have much luck slowing the senior from Baltimore, Md., as Nolan scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
His three "double doubles" were the most of any player in the Rainbow Classic. In fact, he was the only player with more than one.
For the tournament he finished third in scoring with 71 points (behind Kansas' Paul Pierce and Nebraska's Tyronn Lue). He was the tournament's second-leading rebounder with 31 boards, one fewer than Lester Earl of Kansas.
Hand Starts Last Six at the Point
Freshman Donald Hand has started the last six games at point guard for the Cavaliers. He returned to the starting line-up for the Rainbow Classic after not starting the previous three games and played a key role in Virginia's win over Brigham Young.
The rookie from Paterson, N.J., tossed in a career-high 14 points and added four assists to pace the Wahoos. Twelve of his points came in the second half as Virginia withstood a furious BYU rally. He connected on three three-pointers in the final nine minutes to spur Virginia.
Hand started all three games in Hawaii, scoring 22 points, handing off six assists and shooting 53.8 percent from the field.
His scoring has been down a bit in the last three games. He didn't score against Wake Forest eight days ago, but led the Cavaliers with five assists in 25 minutes of action.
Against Liberty last Wednesday, he scored two points and handed out one assist as the Cavaliers fell 69-64. He scored three points before fouling out against top-ranked North Carolina on Saturday.
He is expected to make his seventh consecutive start this evening, the longest streak of his brief career. He is tied for second on the team in assists with fellow newcomer Chezley Watson with 41 and is averaging 4.5 ppg. Hand leads the team with 19 steals.
Big Game Hunter
Sophomore center Kris Hunter has not seen a lot of action this season, averaging just 11.0 minutes per game. Recently his minutes have increased dramatically, due in large part to making things happen when he's been put in games.
He began his recent run of contributions December 13 in a game against VCU. The Cavaliers were somewhat sluggish midway through the first half and Hunter provided a spark. Shortly after entering the contest he slammed home a Curtis Staples shot to arouse the crowd. For the game, he played 12 minutes and scored a career-high six points. He also grabbed four rebounds (all on the offensive end), blocked two shots, added an assist and made a steal.
In the seven games since then his contributions have been just as valuable.
Using his wiry frame, he worked his way inside for two crucial second half tip ins as the Cavaliers downed Wake Forest in overtime eight days ago.
Hunter was one of Virginia's few bright spots in the loss to Liberty last Wednesday with unquestionably his best all-around performance. He recorded career highs in several areas including rebounds (nine), assists (two), blocked shots (four), minutes (25) and points (six to tie high).
His numbers lately, shown below, may be modest, but he has given Virginia an added weapon off the bench.
First 7 Games* Last 8
FG% 50.0 52.6
FT% 0.0 72.7
Off. Rebs. 2 12
Rebounds 3 27
Assists 1 5
Blocks 4 10
Min./g 5.8 13.6
Points 4 28
* Played in four of first seven games