Virginia's men's basketball team hadn't made a three-pointer all night, was on its way to committing 18 turnovers, and its two leading scorers were both having horrible shooting performances. Yet, with about five minutes to play at Georgia Tech on Sunday, the Cavaliers had cut an 18-point deficit to four and seemed to have the Yellow Jackets on their heels.
But Virginia's inability to shoot from the perimeter proved to be its downfall down the stretch, as the Cavaliers made only two baskets the rest of the way and lost their ACC opener for the 11th season in a row, 63-54, in front of a crowd of 9,191 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Virginia (3-2) missed all 13 of its three-point attempts and guards Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds, the team's leading scorers, shot a combined 4 for 30.
"There are definitions for what good shots are or not and we took many, many more than our share of what I wouldn't consider good shots," said Coach Dave Leitao, who lost his first ACC game. "When you're not scoring, a 13-point [deficit] can seem like 33. We were shooting early in the shot clock. We weren't taking balanced shots. For a lot of the game, we continued to take shots that we really didn't have any business taking. When you take low-percentage shots, the balls don't go in the basket."
Singletary's shots certainly didn't go in the basket, as the sophomore from Philadelphia made 3 of 23 shots and missed all five of his three-point attempts. Singletary, who came into the game averaging 19 points, missed all eight of his shots in the first half and finished with 10 points and four turnovers.
"We just came out flat at the beginning of the game and made a lot of mistakes," Singletary said. "When you don't have energy and you're not making shots, you can't win. I've just got to get in the gym, take more shots and work it out."
The Yellow Jackets (3-2, 1-0), who lost all five starters from last season and had lost two games in a row, rotated a trio of players in defending Singletary. Guards Mario West, Anthony Morrow and Lewis Clinch, who are all at least three inches taller than the Cavaliers' point guard, took turns guarding him. Singletary missed his first 11 shots and didn't score until he made a layup with 17 minutes 12 seconds to play, which cut Georgia Tech's lead to 35-19.
"Everybody's just got to pay attention to him," Yellow Jackets Coach Paul Hewitt said. "We tried to put bigger defenders on him, guys we thought were a little bigger than him. We also told everybody else to keep an eye on him."
Singletary didn't get much help from Reynolds, who shot 1 for 7, including 0 for 4 on three-point attempts.
He had six turnovers and was pulled in and out of the game by Leitao. Sophomore Adrian Joseph played only nine minutes in the first half and never left the bench in the second because Leitao wasn't satisfied with his effort.
"He wasn't giving us the kind of basketball we need, especially when you're playing on the road," Leitao said. "I was looking for someone else who would."
Reserve forward Jason Cain led the Cavaliers with 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting, and freshman Mamadi Diane, from DeMatha High, had 14 points and seven rebounds. Forward Jeremis Smith led the Yellow Jackets with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Jamal Williams had 22 points and seven rebounds and No. 18 Washington overcame Gonzaga star Adam Morrison's 43 points in the Huskies' 99-95 victory over the No. 6 Bulldogs.
Freshman Justin Dentmon scored a season-high 17 points, 13 late after senior leader Brandon Roy was forced to the bench and then out of the game by fouls, to help Washington (7-0) extend its nation-leading home winning streak to 29 games. The Huskies also ended a seven-game losing skid to their cross-state rivals.
* UCLA 69, COPPIN STATE 57: In Los Angeles, Arron Afflalo scored 20 points and keyed a second-half rally with Cedric Bozeman as the No. 16 Bruins beat the Eagles.
UCLA (6-1) won its fifth straight at Pauley Pavilion, but needed another comeback to put away an inferior opponent. Last Tuesday, the Bruins blew a 19-point lead and trailed by one before closing out Albany, 73-65.
The Eagles remained winless, falling to 0-6 for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.
* UC DAVIS 64, STANFORD 58: Kyle Brucculeri's three-pointer capped a late 9-2 run, and the host Aggies stunned the Cardinal in yet another sport.
UC Davis (1-4) followed up on its upset of Stanford in football, when it scored the final 20 points of a 20-17 win that ultimately ended up costing the Cardinal a bowl bid. Highlights of that game played on the video board during warmups and some of the UC Davis students chanted "Just like football!" in the final seconds.
* LOUISVILLE 67, ARKANSAS STATE 55: Taquan Dean made six three-pointers and scored 24 points as the No. 7 Cardinals, at home, overcame a sluggish start.