CHARLOTTESVILLE — Had more than a few people in attendance at John Paul Jones Arena been aware of the 34-year-old program record that Virginia forward Mike Scott was on the verge of matching Wednesday night, there might have been something that passed for drama in the second half of the Cavaliers’ thrashing of Wake Forest.
Alas, Scott checked out of No. 19 Virginia’s 68-44 win over the visiting Demon Deacons with 12 minutes 41 seconds to play, having made 11 straight shots dating from Virginia’s previous game, and did not return. The fifth-year senior finished Wednesday’s game with 19 points on 9-for-9 shooting.
Scott now stands one basket away from matching Bobby Stokes’s school record for consecutive field goals made, a mark that has stood since the 1977-78 season.
Not surprisingly, Cavaliers Coach Tony Bennett — who of late had been forced to utilize essentially a six-man rotation — was unapologetic for taking advantage of the rare opportunity to get his most valuable offensive weapon some extended rest.
After all, Virginia’s next foe figures to be significantly tougher than Wake Forest, which fell to 11-13 overall, 2-8 in the ACC. The Cavaliers (19-4, 6-3) will be at North Carolina to face the No. 5 Tar Heels on Saturday.
“Whenever we can rest some of our key guys that have been playing a lot of minutes, that’s a good thing,” Bennett said. “Tonight, that was the case.”
Scott, sophomore guard Joe Harris and fifth-year senior guard Sammy Zeglinski entered the night averaging just more than 30 minutes per game. On Wednesday, Scott logged 26, while Harris and Zeglinski each played 22.
Harris made three three-pointers before the game’s first media timeout and set the tone for what quickly developed into a laugher.
Virginia ended the first half on a 12-0 run and scored 14 of the first 16 points after the break to take a 52-21 lead. For the first time this season, the Cavaliers had five players score in double figures.
“It was nice to jump out to that lead and just kind of continue to push the lead,” said Zeglinski, who finished with four points, four rebounds, four assists and no turnovers. “I thought we all did a good job of being unselfish and really getting everybody involved in the game.”
But it was Scott, per usual, who captured the audience’s attention. His 9-for-9 outing tied a school record for single-game accuracy and also made him the first player since Maryland guard Steve Francis in 1999 to make at least nine field goals in an ACC game without a miss.
And it wasn’t as if Scott was collecting his points off jump-hooks and put-backs. Eight of his nine attempts were taken at least 12 feet from the basket.
“It wasn’t just jump-hooks or short shots,” said Harris, who finished with 11 points. Scott “was spreading it out, hitting shots all over the court. . . . His confidence level is really high right now.”
When it was pointed out to Scott afterward that one of the Wake Forest players charged primarily with defending him, 7-foot center Ty Walker, led the ACC in blocks in conference play, Scott responded: “It doesn’t matter who it is. I worked on that [jump] shot all summer.”