GAME NOTES: Fresh off a home victory over the No. 3 Duke Blue Devils, the Virginia Cavaliers will try to carry that momentum into Conte Forum as they get set for an Atlantic Coast Conference bout with the Boston College Eagles.
This will be the second encounter between these schools this season. Virginia overcame a two-point halftime deficit to capture a 65-51 victory over the Eagles on Jan. 26 at John Paul Jones Arena. Justin Anderson and Akil Mitchell scored 16 points each while Joe Harris had an off-game with just seven points. Ryan Anderson led BC with 14 points in the loss, which gave the Cavaliers a 9-6 all-time series lead.
Tony Bennett's Cavaliers rode Harris's 36-point performance on Thursday to a five-point home win over Duke in front of a sold out crowd. The win marked the second in a row overall and the 16th consecutive at JPJ Arena. However, Virginia will now begin a two-game road swing in Chestnut Hill with the hopes of improving its 3-6 mark in true away games. Virginia is tied with North Carolina for third place in the league standings with a 10-5 ACC record heading into Sunday's action.
Steve Donahue's Eagles are returning home after losing two straight to Duke (89-68) and NC State (82-64) on a short road trip that followed a 69-58 win over Maryland at home. BC is 12-16 on the season, but owns a 10-6 record at home where it nearly pulled off upsets of ACC powers Duke and Miami at Conte Forum, losing to each by a single point. A win would place the Eagles in a tie for second to last place in the conference standings with Wake Forest and Clemson while a loss to the Cavaliers would drop them into a tie with Virginia Tech in the ACC's cellar.
The Cavaliers are leading the ACC and rank fourth nationally in scoring defense with only 54.5 points allowed per game. Harris, who leads the team in scoring at 17.3 ppg, is the only player in the ACC ranked in the top 10 in 3- point field-goal percentage (first), field-goal percentage (sixth) and free throw-percentage (seventh). Akil Mitchell has been solid from the forward position all season long to net 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per contest. Mitchell made Duke's Mason Plumlee a non-factor and produced a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds for Virginia in the upset win on Thursday.
The Eagles' poor record this season is reflected in their statistics, as they rank in the lower-half of the league in both scoring offense (67.1 ppg) and scoring defense (68.9 ppg), while also ranking last in field-goal percentage defense (.454) and 3-point percentage defense (.384). Despite the team's struggles, Anderson has been consistently one of the conference's best forwards, shooting 48.2 percent from the field for 15.3 ppg to go with 8.1 rpg. Olivier Hanlan is a strong second option with 14.4 ppg, while Joe Rahon (9.8 ppg, 3.7 apg) and Lonnie Jackson (9.9 ppg) have also been effective.
The Cavaliers knocked off one of the nation's best in their last appearance, but they will need to come out with the same intensity to down BC in Conte Forum. There is a strong chance the Eagles pull off another unlikely victory against a Virginia squad that struggles on the road.
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