2004-05 Basketball Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Virginia

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Virginia Tech (10-6, 3-2 ACC) vs. #Virginia
(10-6, 1-5 ACC)

Thursday, January 27th, 2005, 8:00 pm

TV:

Raycom/Jefferson Pilot (WBVA in Roanoke; check local
listings elsewhere — click
here for a station list
)

Special Preview Items:

The red-hot Virginia Tech Hokies look to extend their
winning ways when they host in-state rival Virginia on Thursday night in
Cassell Coliseum. The Hokies are riding a 4 game winning streak, including 3
victories in ACC action by a total of 4 points. The winning streak puts Tech
at 3-2 in the ACC, good for 4th place in the conference standings. The Hokies
are 10-6 overall.

UVa comes into Thursday night’s
game with the same overall record as the Hokies, but with much different
results thus far in conference play. The Cavaliers started 0-5 in the ACC, but
finally broke into the win column with a narrow win over Clemson this past
Saturday. Before defeating the Tigers by 2 points, UVa had lost 5 conference
games by an average of 16.2 points per game. The closest the ‘Hoos came to
winning a conference game in that span was an 11 point loss at home to Miami.

However, UVa has shown this season that they can play
with and defeat big time college basketball teams. Back on November 21, UVa
crushed an Arizona team that is currently ranked #11 in the nation. If that UVa
team shows up in the Cassell on Thursday night, then the Hokies will be in
some trouble.

The Cavaliers are led by two seniors, forward/center
Elton Brown and small forward Devin Smith. Smith is 5th in the ACC in scoring,
averaging 17.3 points per game. He is an all-around player, as he also
averages 6.8 rebounds per game and shoots over 50% from the field. His
shooting percentage, 3-point shooting percentage and rebounding statistics
have all gone up since ACC play began, which shows that he is the type of
player that can step up in big situations. He has been hurt for part of the
season, missing two ACC games and four games overall. The Cavaliers are a much
better team with him in the lineup, and he will be in the lineup against the
Hokies.

Unlike Smith, Brown’s statistics have dropped like a
rock since conference play began. His points per game average in conference
games is a full point lower than his overall average, his rebounding has
dropped from 9.4 to 8.5 and his shooting percentage is a below average 38.6%
from the field, as compared to his overall 46.3% mark. One knock on Brown is
that he doesn’t get off the floor well when shooting, so the Hokies have a
chance to get some blocks in this game.

Another player to watch is freshman point guard Sean
Singletary. Singletary has started every game at the point for Pete Gillen
this season, and has demonstrated very good skills at the position. He has 64
assists to 46 turnovers this year. A good player now, he is a player to watch
as a possible ACC star down the road. A major key to the game will be how he
handles a hostile road environment combined with the Hokies’ domination of
the passing lanes. Tech ranks 2nd in the ACC in steals and 1st in turnover
margin, so they will look to give the freshman some trouble.

Key Statistics

Stat

VT (ACC Rank)

UVa (ACC
Rank)

Points Per Game

70.4 (11)

76.0 (7)

Points Against

65.4 (5)

73.8 (11)

FG%

43.7% (11)

44% (9)

3-pt. FG%

33.8% (8)

32.6% (10)

FT%

66% (8)

70.5% (4)

Rebounds

32.4 (11)

38.1 (7)

Rebounding Margin

-4.8 (11)

0.9 (8)

Steals

10.69 (2)

7.63 (10)

Turnover Margin

+7.38 (1)

+1.19 (6)

There are some interesting team stats that could
potentially play a role in this game as well. For example, the Tech scoring
offense vs. the UVa scoring defense will be key. Take a look at the table
above and you will see that the Hokies are last in the conference in scoring,
while UVa is last in scoring defense. Whichever team wins this battle of the
resistible force vs. the moveable object may well win the game.

One thing to note about the Hokie offense is the fact
that it has been playing much better the past two games. Georgia Tech and NC
State rank 2nd and 3rd in the ACC in scoring defense, giving up 62 and 64.9
points per game respectively. Tech was able to break 70 points against both of
those teams, so things could be looking up for the Hokies offensively.

Also of note is the fact that UVa recently lost senior
power forward Jason Clark for the season due to academics. Clark started 12
games for the Cavs this season, averaging 6.7 points per game and 5.2 rebounds
per game. He also led the team in blocked shots with 17. In his place Pete
Gillen will likely start 6-10 205-pound sophomore Jason Cain. Cain averages
2.1 points per game and 1.7 rebounds per game.

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