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Jan. 14, 1998

Cavs Take on Yellow Jackets

Virginia vs. Georgia Tech
January 15, 1998 -- 8:00 p.m.
University Hall
Charlottesville, Va.

The Series vs. the Yellow Jackets
The Cavaliers hold a 24-22 advantage in the series with Georgia Tech, but the Yellow Jackets have won 12 of the last 17 meetings.

Virginia has won 14 of the 19 games in the series played at University Hall.

Virginia won last season's meeting in Charlottesville 68-64 on January 22.

Of the 33 games in the series since the 1983-84 season, only nine have been decided by 10 or more points. Sixteen of the games have been decided by a margin of four points or less with UVa winning nine of them.

Virginia has won the last three overtime contests against the Yellow Jackets, including an 88-85 double overtime affair at University Hall three years ago.

Nolan Among Nation's Best Power Forwards
Norman Nolan may not get the national acclaim that some players get, but he is becoming one of the top power forwards in the game today.

The 6-8, 253-pound senior from Baltimore, Md., came to Virginia as a high school All-American. His first year he played behind Junior Burrough, who nearly led the Cavaliers to a Final Four berth in 1994-95.

Nolan started as a sophomore in 1995-96 and averaged 9.5 ppg and a team-best 7.0 rpg.

He was again the Cavaliers' main man underneath last season and led the team in rebounding (7.4/g), while adding 11.3 ppg.

After a rigorous off-season where he worked hard on his strength and conditioning, and adding to his outside game, Nolan has picked up his level of play tremendously this year and caused ACC coaches and NBA scouts to take notice.

We're unsure what Nolan asked Santa Claus for this Christmas, but it's apparent the jolly man in red filled Nolan's stocking with a variety of offensive moves to score and bundles of rebounds to grab.

Since Christmas, Nolan has put together a series of performances the likes of which haven't been seen by Virginia fans since the days of Ralph Sampson.

Over his last seven games, Nolan is averaging 25.9 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. He's also shooting 53.4 percent from the floor and 73.2 percent from the free throw line.

He has topped the 20-point plateau in each of the last seven games, the best streak by a Cavalier since Wally Walker fashioned two eight-game streaks during UVa's ACC championship year of 1975-76.

These Games are Barn Burners
Even though five of the last six meetings between these two teams have been decided by at least nine points, recent history suggests the two squads will battle down to the wire tonight.

Of the 33 games since the 1983-84 season, only nine have been decided by 10 or more points. Sixteen of the games have been decided by a margin of four points or less with UVa winning nine of them. The Cavaliers have won all three games (1987, 1990 twice) decided by two points.

From 1985 to 1990 the teams played 15 consecutive games that were decided by fewer than 10 points with Virginia winning eight of those games.

A breakdown of the close games in the series since the 1983-84 season is below:

1 point - 3       4 points - 4    8 points - 1
2 points - 3    5 points - 1    9 points - 2
3 points - 6    7 points - 4

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 17.0 turnovers per game and have three games of 20+ turnovers.

The Cavaliers have 85 more turnovers than the opposition so far this season. They have also attempted 48 fewer shots despite having 18 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 week, 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 Tops 1000, Staples Nears 1500
Norman Nolan has been on fire offensively since Christmas, averaging 25.9 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 now 30th in Virginia history with 1029 points.

Curtis Staples is eight 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 1492 points.

Jacket Offense Shoots as Well as Any vs. UVa
While Virginia has a reputation as an outstanding defensive club under head coach Jeff Jones, Georgia Tech has done a good job of shooting the ball against UVa.

Georgia Tech's 56.6 field goal percentage performance in the 1992-93 game at University Hall is the highest field goal percentage allowed by the Cavaliers under Jones.

The Cavaliers have held the opposition to a composite 40.8 percent field goal shooting, while allowing the opposition to score an average of 67.0 points per game, during Jones' head coaching career at Virginia.

But Georgia Tech has defied the numbers, shooting 45.4 percent and averaging 72.3 points per game in 16 games against the Jones-coached Cavaliers. Georgia Tech's field goal percentage against Virginia is the best of any ACC team since Jones became the Cavaliers' head coach.

In Georgia Tech's 11 wins over the Jones-coached Virginians, the Yellow Jackets are shooting 47.9 percent from the field, while averaging 73.5 points.

That is a contrast to Georgia Tech's performance when Virginia wins. In Virginia's five wins over Georgia Tech under Jones, the Yellow Jackets have shot 40.2 percent from the floor and scored an average of 69.6 points.

In the last five Virginia wins dating back to the 1993-94 season, Georgia Tech has not shot better than 43 percent from the field. In the Yellow Jackets' two victories in sweeping the 1995-96 season series, they shot 48.1 percent and 53.4 percent.

In nine of the 16 games against UVa going back to the 1990-91 season, Georgia Tech has topped 46 percent from the field.

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, ranking second in the nation with an average of 3.9 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 345 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   345

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 45.5 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 40.9 percent vs. Virginia Tech the last time out.

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 16 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 178 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         .394    67.1
Jones' career   .408    67.0

Something About the Water
That Curtis Staples is among the top three-point field goal shooters in NCAA history shouldn't come as a surprise.

He is one of three Virginia natives in the top-eight in NCAA history in three-point field goals made in a career.

Doug Day, a bomber at Radford University from 1990-93, is second in NCAA history with 401 career threes. He hailed from Blacksburg and Blacksburg High School.

Current NBA standout Dennis Scott played at Georgia Tech from 1988-90 and is the ACC all-time leader with 351 treys. He hails from Reston, and played his high school ball at Flint Hill.

Staples, from Roanoke, is eighth on the NCAA's all-time list. He began his high school career at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, before concluding his prep days at Oak Hill Academy.

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 a 9.1 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 634 rebounds in his career, 11th in school history. Wally Walker is currently 10th with 665 career boards.

Nolan Sizzles on the Offensive End
Norman Nolan has been hot on the offensive end since Christmas, averaging 25.9 points per game in the last seven games.

He has scored 31, 30, 29 and 20 points in his last four 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 last 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.

Ducharme Records Career Highs vs. Hokies
Colin Ducharme is one of the team's most intense players. Sometimes his intensity leads to being overly aggressive and a tendency to commit fouls.

Foul problems have been particularly bothersome for him lately. He was whistled for at least four fouls in six consecutive games leading up to Monday's encounter against state-rival Virginia Tech. In those six games he was averaging just 20.0 minutes of playing time per game.

But against the Hokies, he stayed out of foul trouble and showed what he can do by scoring a career-high 16 points in a career-high 36 minutes of action.

He was able to work free underneath for several thunderous dunks and take some of the inside scoring pressure off Norman Nolan.

Ducharme also made the Hokie big men pay for fouls committed against him by connecting on 10 of 11 free throw attempts.

Playing what head coach Jeff Jones speculated was his best all-around game at Virginia, Ducharme also added nine rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots.

Ducharme leads the team in blocked shots (23), while averaging 7.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.

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 UVa in scoring, averaging 21.1 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, 29 and 20 points in the last four games. He has reached the 20-point plateau in each of the last seven contests.

Staples had a rough night last week against Liberty, scoring just two points, but bounced back with a 20-point effort against top-ranked North Carolina on Saturday. He was slowed somewhat by an attentive Virginia Tech defense on Monday night and scored 13 points.

He is the only other Cavalier in double figures, averaging 17.4 points per game

Staples paced UVa 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 (616 of 1109).

Staples To Join Select UVa Group
Sharpshooter Curtis Staples has been one of Virginia's most consistent scorers throughout his career, averaging between 11.9 and 14.0 points per game up to this season. So far this season he is averaging 17.4 points per game, the highest by a Virginia guard since Cory Alexander averaged 18.8 ppg as a sophomore in 1992-93.

Staples is 72 points away from becoming just the sixth player in school history to score at least 350 points in all four years of varsity play.

Jeff Lamp was the first Cavalier to score at least 350 points in four consecutive seasons. He was followed by Ralph Sampson, Bryant Stith, Junior Burrough and Harold Deane.

Four others scored 350+ points in their three seasons of varsity play before freshmen became eligible to play in 1972-73. They are Buzzy Wilkinson, Bob McCarty, Jim Connelly and Barry Parkhill.

Four in Double Figures
Virginia spread its scoring around in Monday night's win over Virginia Tech as four Cavaliers reached double figures, led by Norman Nolan's 20 points. Colin Ducharme scored a career-high 16 points, while Curtis Staples added 13 and Willie Dersch chipped in with 10.

It was the fourth game this season at least four Cavaliers scored in double figures and Virginia has won them all.

In Jeff Jones' eight years as Virginia's head coach the Cavaliers have been remarkably successful when placing at least four players in double figures. His Cavalier squads are 70-15 with at least four players in double figures and have won nine of the last 10 games.

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.

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 third in the ACC in both scoring--21.1 ppg--and rebounding--9.1 rpg--this season.

He leads the ACC in "double doubles" with 10 this season.

Nolan had six "double doubles" last season and now has 20 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 in the first game of the new year. He also pulled down 12 rebounds for his fourth consecutive "double double."

After consecutive near misses at "double doubles" against LIberty and North Carolina, Nolan recorded his 10th "double double" of the season against Virginia Tech on Monday by scoring 20 points and pulling down 11 rebounds.

His play since Christmas 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
Va. Tech        6-13    8-9     11      20
Last 7 avg.     53.4%   73.2%   10.0    25.9
Season Avg.     54.4%   63.4%   9.1     21.1

Second Half Rallies Frustrate Cavaliers
Virginia played 125 minutes of basketball in the recent Rainbow Classic and for approximately 95 of those minutes Virginia out-played its opponent. One of the factors that contributed to the Cavaliers' 1-2 record in Hawaii was their inability to prevent the opposition from putting together impressive scoring runs in the second half. In all three games in Hawaii, the opponent eliminated or chipped away at substantial Virginia leads in the second half. Since returning to the mainland, Virginia hasn't been able to completely reverse its second half luck.

The Cavaliers led Nebraska 35-28 at halftime, but the Cornhuskers used a 19-4 run to start the second half to grab the lead for good en route to an 80-65 win in UVa's Rainbow Classic opener.

Virginia built a 23-point lead in its second game against Brigham Young early in the second half, only to see the Cougars cut the lead to four points with a 28-9 run. The Cavaliers regrouped after BYU drew to within 56-52, and cruised to a 72-54 win.

In the final game in Hawaii, Virginia led New Mexico State 50-39 with 14:48 remaining in the second half. The Aggies then outscored the Cavaliers 23-8 over the next 10 minutes to take the lead. The lead seesawed back and forth in the last few minutes of regulation before the Aggies forced the game into overtime. Virginia couldn't regain the momentum in overtime and fell 87-82.

Virginia led Wake Forest 28-22 at halftime 11 days ago, but the Demon Deacons used a 13-6 run to start the second half to take the lead. Virginia fought back to regain the lead, but the Deacs closed the game with a 9-4 run in the last four minutes of regulation to force overtime.

The Cavaliers fell behind early in overtime, but held the Deacs scoreless over the last 3:24 while scoring the game's final 10 points to win.

Virginia built a nine-point lead against Liberty (51-42) with 10:50 to play in the game on January 7. From there the Flames scored nine straight points to tie the score and they continued to keep the game close. Liberty then gained the upset win by out-scoring the Cavaliers 8-3 in the final 2:30 of the game.

Freshman Hand Runs the Point
Freshman Donald Hand has started the last seven 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 in Hawaii.

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 several games, but he is becoming more assertive in leading the Cavalier attack with each game.

Against Virginia Tech on Monday, his drives into the lane helped open up the offense. An adept ball-handler, he had just one turnover against the Hokies and canned four of six free throws as the Hokies attempted to get closer by fouling late in the game.

Hand is expected to make his eighth consecutive start against Georgia Tech, the longest streak of his brief career. He is tied for second on the team in assists with fellow newcomer Chezley Watson with 43 and is averaging 4.6 ppg. Hand leads the team with 20 steals.

Cavaliers Connect from Charity Stripe
Virginia entered the Wake Forest game 11 days ago shooting 62.5 percent from the free throw line.

In the four games since then, the Cavaliers have shot a combined 79.6 percent from the line and upped the season percentage to 67.6 percent.

Among regulars Colin Ducharme has led the charge, shooting 90.5 percent (19 of 21) in the last four contests. He was outstanding on Monday against Virginia Tech, making 10 of 11 attempts.

Curtis Staples has connected on 82.4 percent of his tries (14 of 17) in the last four games.

Norman Nolan has also improved his free throw shooting which is important for Virginia because he gets to the line almost twice as much as any player on the team. He is shooting 81.3 percent (26 of 32) in the last four games.

Shooting Disparity by Half
Close inspection of Virgnia's statistics reveals the Cavaliers are shooting 45.5 percent from the field, including 35.6 percent from behind the three-point arc. The team is also shooting 67.6 percent from the charity stripe.

The one thing that might jump off the stat page at you is the great disparity in Virginia's three-point shooting by half. The Cavaliers are reasonably consistent in overall field goal shooting and free throw shooting by half, but fall off dramatically from behind the arc after halftime.

In the first half, Virginia's three-point field goal percentage is 41.9 percent, but falls to 30.1 percent in the second half.

A look at Virginia's five primary three-point shooters by half is below.

who?           1st             2nd             Overall
W. Dersch       .500 (10-20)    .182 (4-22)     .333 (14-42)
D. Hand         .250 (3-12)     .333 (6-18)     .300 (9-30)
M. Marcaccini   .455 (5-11)     .176 (3-17)     .286 (8-28)
C. Staples      .413 (31-75)    .383 (31-81)    .397 (62-156)
C. Watson       .429 (3-7)      .000 (0-3)      .300 (3-10)


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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.

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