RICHMOND, JAN. 23 -- It's a fortunate thing for the Virginia Cavaliers that their most trying times are coming at the opportune part of their schedule.
Virginia Tech tonight played the role of second straight nonconference tuneup for the No. 18 Cavaliers, who demolished the Hokies, 86-61, in the annual neutral-site matchup while seemingly taking out the frustrations of the past five days.
The Cavaliers (13-4) discovered that life without shooting guard Anthony Oliver -- who was lost for at least three weeks after breaking his shooting hand during Monday's 71-47 victory over Davidson -- may prove offensively rewarding, what with replacements Cornel Parker, Terry Kirby and Dirk Katstra combining for 23 points -- 16 from freshman Parker in his first starting role.
Virginia Coach Jeff Jones promised that Virginia Tech would provide another important regrouping for the Cavaliers following a 78-51 loss at Georgia Tech Saturday and a first-half performance against Davidson during which the Cavaliers trailed by seven points.
But the declining competitiveness of tonight's once-fierce intrastate rivalry was evident from the start, with the Cavaliers racing to a 42-22 lead at the half and outrebounding the Hokies 31-8 in the first 20 minutes.
"Maybe the rebounding difference in this game was an NCAA record," Virginia Tech Coach Frankie Allen said. "It was an embarrassment."
Virginia forward Bryant Stith, in a now familiar routine, fought through a miserable first half to score 19 points after intermission and lead the game with 24.
All five Virginia starters finished in double figures, including center Ted Jeffries, who added a career-high 11 rebounds.
Forward John Rivers led Virginia Tech (7-8) with 18, while leading scorer Antony Moses (15.8 ppg) had just one field goal and spent most of the second half on the bench.
"From the outset this team has been very mature," said Jones, whose squad faces Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., Saturday. "There have been no emotional speeches. I'd probably start laughing in the middle of something like that."
"Right now, the games are jelling together and we needed a day off," said Virginia guard John Crotty. "I think fatigue, both mental and physical, has played a part in how we've played."
Jones, whose seven-man rotation includes nobody over 6 feet 9 and often incorporates 6-7 Matt Blundin at center, has refused all season to list the Cavaliers' lack of size as a disadvantage, although the common denominator in all four losses has been an inability to defend against the taller frontcourts of UCLA, New Orleans, North Carolina and Georgia Tech.
Virginia Tech provided only one starter -- 7-foot center Erik Wilson -- over 6-5, but the Cavaliers were quick to pronounce the game as the rekindling of the type of rebounding dominance enjoyed during their eight-game, early-season winning streak.
"We're small but everyone understands body positioning," Crotty said. "We've had a little bit of a skid, and that will happen. We went down the tubes a little bit this week, but hopefully that's over."
N.C. State 95, Duke 89: In Raleigh, N.C., Rodney Monroe scored 35 points to lead five players in double figures, and Chris Corchiani sparked a second-half rally as the Wolfpack upset the ninth-ranked Blue Devils.
Monroe, the ACC's leading scorer at 28.8 points per game, scored 19 points in the opening half and helped stake the Wolfpack (10-4, 3-1) to a 13-point lead 12 minutes into the game.
Duke (15-4, 4-2) closed to 47-41 at halftime and tied the score twice early in the second period. Corchiani then led an 18-7 run to 71-60.
N. Carolina 91, Wake Forest 81: King Rice had a career-tying 22 points and Rick Fox scored 20 -- all in the second half -- as the seventh-ranked Tar Heels won the ACC game in Winston-Salem, N.C.
North Carolina (14-2, 3-1) saw an early eight-point lead turn into a three-point halftime deficit. But whenever the Tar Heels got into trouble, Rice and Fox answered with three-pointers.
The Tar Heels made 11 of 21 three-point shots, with Rice hitting five of seven and Fox three of eight. Byron Tucker led Wake Forest (8-6, 3-3) with 17 points.