Charlottesville, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - With their sights still squarely set on successfully defending their ACC championship, the second-ranked Virginia Cavaliers continue their conference slate on Saturday, as they play host to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at John Paul Jones Arena.
Tony Bennett's Cavalier have suffered just one loss on the campaign and that came on Jan. 31 to ACC power Duke (69-63). Virginia has rallied though, with three straight victories. The team's 51-47 road win at NC State on Wednesday moved Virginia to 22-1 overall and 10-1 in conference play. The team is boasting of its second-best start in school history (23-0 during the 1980-81 season).
Danny Manning's first season in Winston-Salem has come with its ups and downs. The Demon Deacons seem to be picking up the pace of late, with wins in three of their last four games. The team was last in action on Wednesday, where it knocked off Miami-Florida, 72-70. There is still plenty of ground to make up in the ACC standings however, as Wake's recent run of success still leaves the team at just 4-8 in the conference.
Wake Forest holds a 70-61 advantage in the all-time series with Virginia, but the Cavaliers have won three of the last four meetings and are 38-21 in Charlottesville in the series overall. These two teams will meet again in Winston-Salem on Feb. 25.
Codi Miller-McIntyre recorded his 1,000th career point and Konstantinos Mitoglou pored in 21 points, as Wake Forest used a 21-6 second-half run to upend the Hurricanes in Winston-Salem earlier in the week. Mitoglou was a ridiculous 6-of-7 from behind the arc and grabbed eight rebounds for good measure in the win. Darius Leonard added 14 points off the bench, while Devin Thomas chipped in with 13 for the Demon Deacons. Miller-McIntyre netted just eight points, but did become the 50th Demon Deacon to reach 1,000 points in his career.
The 6-foot-3 Miller-McIntyre is the undeniable leader for Wake, as the junior guard is averaging team-highs in both scoring (14.2 ppg) and assists (4.0 apg). The 6-9 Thomas is a perfect complement with a strong interior game, averaging a near double-double with 12.7 points and 9.6 rebounds per game (second in the ACC). Mitoglou has shown flashes like against Miami, and comes in just under double digits in the scoring column with 9.6 ppg.
Adjusting to life without a player the caliber of Justin Anderson on the floor wouldn't be easy for many teams, but Virginia is able to assuage the loss thanks to some of the nation's best defensive play. It was on display once again in this week's win over NC State, as the Cavaliers limited the Wolfpack to a mere 47 points on just .333 shooting, including a 3-of-17 effort from behind the arc. In addition, Virginia dominated the glass, outrebounding NC State, 43-31 in the game. Malcolm Brogdon led the way offensively for Virginia, posting 15 points. Mike Tobey just missed a double-double, with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Offensively, players like Tobey will need to step up down the stretch to replace Anderson's production (13.4 ppg). Anderson will miss four to six weeks with a hand injury. Brogdon will ask to shoulder some of the workload as well and that will probably help inflate his already team-best 13.7 ppg. Anthony Gill (10.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg) is another option as well. Still, this team is defensive-minded and plays as well as any team at that end of the floor, leading the nation in scoring defense (50.5 ppg), while holding foes to a mere .354 shooting.