NC State-Virginia Preview
Virginia survived a tough test on the road to begin its ACC title defense.
The Cavaliers figure to have an easier time when they return home, where they haven’t lost a conference game the last two seasons.
Third-ranked Virginia looks to improve on its best start in 34 years Wednesday night when it hosts North Carolina State.
The Cavaliers (13-0, 1-0 ACC) haven’t gone this far into a season undefeated since 1980-81, when Ralph Sampson led them to a 23-0 start en route to their first Final Four.
After leading the nation in scoring defense in 2013-14, Virginia again ranks among the elite, limiting opponents to 50.8 points per game on 33.3 percent shooting. The only team which is better in either category is top-ranked Kentucky.
The Cavaliers won each of their first 12 games by 11-plus points before an 89-80 double-overtime victory at Miami on Saturday.
"We knew the game was never over and we had to play to zero, and we did a good job of that," said Justin Anderson, who had 16 points and is 13 of 21 from 3-point range over his last five games.
Virginia led by as many as 19 points in regulation though it never led in the first overtime and "showed some vulnerability," coach Tony Bennett said. His team was 27 of 39 from the free-throw line and was outrebounded for the first time in 17 games, surrendering a season-high 15 offensive boards. The 63 points allowed in regulation was well above its season average.
Point guard London Perrantes helped bail the Cavaliers out with a career-high 26 points after scoring 34 in his first 11 games.
"We have to be better than that," Bennett said. "You have to play every possession in ACC basketball against quality talent and that was frustrating, but to come back in overtime… Different guys stepping up, that was a good sign."
Virginia can surpass its longest winning streak from last season by winning its 14th straight. It has won 18 consecutive conference games in Charlottesville since a 63-60 loss to then-No. 22 Florida State on March 1, 2012.
The Cavaliers won 76-45 at North Carolina State on Jan. 11 in last season’s only meeting, holding the Wolfpack to 28.9 percent shooting.
North Carolina State (11-4, 2-0) is hoping second-leading scorer Ralston Turner is back on track as it plays the first of three straight against ranked opponents. The Wolfpack host No. 2 Duke on Sunday and No. 18 North Carolina on Jan. 14.
Turner had scored 16 points on 5-of-16 shooting in three games from Dec. 20-30 before going 4 of 9 from deep and scoring 16 in Saturday’s 68-50 win over Pittsburgh.
The Wolfpack were coming off a 76-60 home loss to Cincinnati.
"They responded," coach Mark Gottfried said. "They were hurt the other day after the Cincinnati game. They were disappointed, embarrassed. So now for us, it’s something we have to continue to build on."
North Carolina State has lost 25 of 29 against ranked opponents, including an 83-69 defeat to then-No. 22 West Virginia on Dec. 20 in New York City. It has also dropped 15 of 16 versus top-five teams, with the one win coming against No. 1 Duke 84-76 on Jan. 12, 2013.
Anderson has struggled in three career meetings with the Wolfpack, scoring 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting.