HONOLULU, DEC. 26 -- Maybe it was the memory of Christmas Past. Maybe it was The Ghost of Ralph that still haunts the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena, so empty it had the look and feel of a ghost town. More likely, it was just frustration from watching his team struggle.

Either way, Coach Terry Holland of the University of Virginia's basketball team took two full strides toward the scorer's table Friday night thinking -- at least for a second -- that he was taking his Cavaliers from the court. They were struggling, leading host Chaminade, 37-35, three minutes into the second half and Holland had watched four straight calls go against his team.

Perhaps he was remembering the last time his team played Chaminade here, the shocking loss by what was then the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, led by Ralph Sampson. Either way, Holland wasn't very happy.

"I don't know what I would have done if I'd gotten to the scorer's table," Holland said, able to smile after the Cavaliers had escaped with a 64-56 victory in the final game of the Chaminade Christmas Classic. "Probably I would have just screamed and yelled. Maybe, I would have just ripped the scorebook up. But at that moment I said, 'That's it, we're getting out of here.' "

He never made it to the scorer's table because assistant coach Dave Odom, who is a foot shorter than his boss, threw his dimunitive body in front of Holland. "You don't want to do it, Terry," he said. "You'll regret it if you do."

Holland's anger waned and he and his team settled down to take control of a game but tired Chaminade team that is 0-10 this season.

"It's funny that we're going out of here feeling good about what happened on the trip," Holland said. "After the way we got killed {109-61} by Oklahoma on Wednesday, to go home with two wins, one of them over Georgia, makes us feel pretty good."

The Cavaliers, so awful Wednesday, had been near-perfect Thursday against Georgia. Friday, nothing was easy for anyone except wing guard Richard Morgan who had 20 points on nine-of-11 shooting, six rebounds and four assists, and Mel Kennedy, who had 16 points and five rebounds. Those two shot 16 for 25 from the field. The rest of the Cavaliers (6-5) shot nine for 29.

But they won the game. That was not so mean a feat when one remembers that last game between these two teams at Christmas time. Virginia was ranked No. 1, Sampson was the center and Chaminade won the game, 77-72, in what many consider the most stunning upset in college basketball history.

"During the first half, the thought did cross my mind," said Chaminade Coach Merv Lopes, who coached that upset. "I thought, if we could just stay close, maybe we could make a run at the end. But we just don't have the talent like we did back then."

Because of injuries, he is down to eight able bodies. The Silverswords still play hard and they have two effective players, Art King (15 points) and Peter Schomers (15 points). But because the team is so shallow, it tires. It led both Dayton and Virginia at halftime here but lost.

It was shortly after Holland's near-tantrum that the Cavaliers took control. Their lead was 45-42 until Kennedy's short jumper in the post. Then, after poor shots by Chaminade, Morgan made two of his rainbow jumpers, the second a three-pointer, and suddenly Virginia's lead was 52-42. Lopes called time with 10:01 left to rally his tired team and they did hang in, but the lead never got under five again.

"Even though we had lost three in a row coming in, we thought with Mel back we would get on the right track here," said John Johnson. "But then we just got killed by Oklahoma. Now, though, we feel we're heading in the right direction."

Still, there is much to do before the Atlantic Coast Conference opener on Jan. 9 in Charlottesville against Duke. Although Kennedy played well the last two nights, he is not yet in shape. John Crotty, the guard who had played so well early, struggled here. He was shut out against Oklahoma and shot an air ball from the foul line against Georgia. Friday he showed renewed signs of life, making all six of his foul shots.

"John's learning what it's like to be a freshman," Holland said. "This is like being a real good student and getting your first C. You say, 'They give Cs?' And then you know how hard you have to work to get an A. When he air-balled the free throw I told him he had hit rock bottom and now it was time to turn it around. I think he's made every free throw since then."

The same could be said for the Cavaliers. They hit bottom against Oklahoma but started back up their last two days here. There was some trouble along the way, but that is to be expected in a gym with only 400 fans and a 7-foot-4 ghost.