Virginia 72, No. 24 UAB 63
First-year Virginia coach Tony Bennett hopes an impressive
come-from-behind victory against a hot team and a big game from the
player he’s challenged to lift the Cavaliers will have a lasting
impact with conference play looming.
Sounds like it might.
“We’re getting more complete with the system he’s telling us,
defensive and offensive end,” reigning Atlantic Coast Conference
rookie of the year Sylven Landesberg said after one of his most
complete games in a 72-63 victory over No. 24 UAB on Wednesday
“I think we’ll keep growing and getting better and pulling out
tough wins like this.”
It will help immensely if Landesberg plays like he did against
Landesberg had 19 points and six rebounds and two of his four
assists created key baskets in the final 2:36 for the Cavaliers,
who went ahead and held on over the final 10 minutes.
The Cavaliers (7-4) beat a ranked opponent for the first time
since Clemson last February, ending UAB’s 10-game winning streak
and giving Bennett an affirming victory.
“It validates it a little bit,” he said of his defense-first
approach to winning.
UAB got within 61-59 in the closing minutes, but Landesberg fed
Mike Scott for an easy basket with 2:36 remaining, and then fed him
again for a baby hook with 1:21 to play after Howard Crawford
baseline jumper had pulled the Blazers within two again.
Landesberg’s two free throws with 49.6 seconds left all but
finished it, capping the kind of performance Bennett challenged him
to make a habit as the best player on the team.
“If he feels that I’m that good of a player to be able to raise
the level of play of my teammates as well as mine, I’m going to do
the best I can to do it,” Landesberg said.
“I felt like I played the whole game. I felt like I was finding
teammates, I was rebounding. At times I felt like I was a little
bit lazy on defense, but I feel like I played all right D. I’m
still working on that, but it felt like a pretty complete
The Blazers (11-2), who moved into the Top 25 this week for the
first time since the end of the 2006-07 season, got a career-high
27 points and 11 rebounds from Elijah Millsap. But the Blazers
missed 10 of 15 free throws and were outscored 22-13 over the final
“That was bad, but we missed some that really hurt,” Blazers
coach Mike Davis said of the free throws. His team was 5 of 13 in
the second half. “We missed a couple that really hurt.”
Virginia limited the Blazers to 39 percent shooting after
“They made it tough on us,” Davis said. “They contested some
shots and took away our driving lanes. … We fought hard in the
second half but just came up short.”
The Cavaliers trailed most of the game, but scored seven
straight points to tie it at 50 with 10:26 to play. Jerome
Meyinsse’s short jumper started the run, and Jontel Evans hit a
3-pointer with the shot clock running down and then a driving
left-handed layup to tie it.
The 3-pointer, Evans’ first of the season, was “a huge momentum
shot for us,” Bennett said.
After Ovie Soko’s basket gave the Blazers the lead back,
Mustapha Farrakhan hit his second 3-pointer and Sammy Zeglinski
added a four-point play with 7:17 remaining.
The Cavaliers never trailed again.
Scott and Farrakhan added 10 points each for the Cavaliers.
Crawford had 14 points for the Blazers.
The Cavaliers had no answer for the 6-foot-6 Millsap, who had 17
points and five rebounds in the first half. He already had eight
points inside when he made a 16-footer with 9:58 left in the first
half to make it 18-12. It was the Blazers’ first basket from
outside the paint, and Millsap later added their only 3-pointer in
7 first-half tries. They finished 2 of 14.
The Blazers dominated inside and led most of the first half, but
each time they seemed poised to take command, Virginia rallied. Two
free throws by Landesberg and a dunk by Meyinsse pulled them within
20-16 with 8:12 to play, and three points by Landesberg and a steal
and layup by Evans pulled them to 31-28 with 2:15 left. It was
35-30 at halftime.