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January 9, 2013

Too little, too late for Cavs at WF

Virginia, coming off an emphatic home win against North Carolina on Sunday night, took the floor here at Lawrence Joel Coliseum wearing orange and blue. But that's about where the similarities end, as the Cavaliers committed a season-high 17 turnovers and lost 55-52 to Wake Forest in a game that wasn't really that close.

For just about the entire night, UVa (11-4, 1-1 ACC) was out-hustled, out-executed, and underwhelming on both ends. The Wahoos couldn't do much of anything right early and trailed from the 8:35 mark of the first half all the way to the final horn.

Wake Forest (8-6, 1-1), on the other hand, seemed to win in spite of itself. The Demon Deacons were out rebounded 40 to 24 on their home floor and committed 12 turnovers of their own.

But UVa, one of the better 3-point shooting teams in the conference, didn't hit a shot from behind the arc until the final minute of the game, finishing 3 of 11 (27.3 percent). Closer in, things were too much better. Virginia shot 36.4 percent from the field.

"We were out-played for the majority of that game," head coach Tony Bennett said. "I think the effort was okay but the soundness was what was lacking. We got out of the gates turning the ball over at an alarming rate. We were out of sync and played rushed and I think that really affected us. Defensively, they spread us out and did some good things but we lacked some soundness there whether it was getting lifted on shot fakes or gambling a little bit."

The one bright spot for the Cavaliers was freshman center Mike Tobey, who scored a team-high 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting. Juniors Joe Harris (13 points) and Akil Mitchell (10) also scored in double figures.

Wake, paced by C.J. Harris and his game-high 16 points, as well as Richmond native Travis McKie and his 14, shot 40.9 percent from the field but didn't make a shot from the floor in the game's final 10:21. Instead, the Deacs lived on free throws, making seven of nine from the stripe in the final 1:19

The Cavaliers had a golden opportunity then, cutting the lead to one possession 16.5 left and getting as close as 53-52 with 6.3 seconds remaining.

After a very contested Joe Harris 3-points, C.J. Harris made two free throws with 5.3 seconds left, giving UVa a chance to tie. But off the inbounds, the Hoos couldn't get a shot off on the game's final possession.

Joe Harris inbounded to a streaking Jontel Evans who found plenty of space after crossing half court. He attempted to pass to Tobey coming off a screen near the elbow but Tobey couldn't catch it cleanly. The loose ball meandered toward the Virginia bench, where Joe Harris tried to catch and shoot but the horn sounded before he could hoist a prayer.

"We had used a lot of our plays to get us back to that point," Bennett said of the final possession. "[Harris] is kind of a trail and there's some action that we're looking for."

Even so, Bennett said that the last play would've been great had it worked but in the end his team didn't deserve it.

"I told our guys they battled hard to get back to that spot but don't feel too good about that," Bennett said. "I think you've got to look at the majority of that game and learn from that, grow from that. We have to....The meat of the game, the guts of the game? There wasn't enough there."

Harris said that the team just didn't come out focused enough to play well and promised that wouldn't be the case when the Wahoos head back out on the road this Saturday bound for Clemson (noon, ACC Network).

"We didn't come ready to play and we didn't deserve to win this game," Harris said. "As much as this one stings, we've got to put it aside. Going down to Clemson, we're hopefully going to have a better couple of days of practice and we're definitely going to come more prepared to play. That's a guarantee for us."


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