Virginia-NC State Preview
By MATT BECKER
(AP) -- With starting center Assane Sene injured, Virginia needs Sammy Zeglinski to consistently hit outside shots to keep defenses from placing so much focus on Mike Scott in the post.
Zeglinski seemed to regain his shooting touch in the team's last game, but building on that performance could be tough Saturday night when the 19th-ranked Cavaliers visit a North Carolina State team that is defending the perimeter well.
Zeglinski leads Virginia with 35 3-pointers and connected on 43.3 percent of his attempts in non-conference play, but he hasn't been as steady from long range since the ACC slate began. The senior hit two big 3-pointers during the decisive run in Thursday's 66-49 win over Boston College, and Scott had a game-high 18 points.
It was the Cavaliers' second game since Sene underwent ankle surgery that is expected to keep him sidelined for six weeks. They lost the first one Sunday, 47-45 at home to a Virginia Tech team which had lost four straight.
Akil Mitchell had only two points and one rebound in that game, his first replacing Sene in the lineup, but responded Thursday with a career-best 10 points and five boards as Virginia (16-3, 3-2) matched its victory total from all of last season. The Cavaliers haven't reached 17 wins since going 17-16 in 2007-08.
Before Thursday's victory, the Cavaliers had lost two of three games with Zeglinski missing all 11 of his 3-point attempts in the defeats. His inaccuracy hurt Virginia immensely, as the team lost the two contests by a combined five points. In Sunday's defeat, Zeglinski's struggles made things tougher for Scott, who finished with 10 points - 6.6 below his team-leading average.
Against Boston College, Zeglinski finished with eight points and was 2 of 4 from beyond the arc.
"It felt good," Zeglinski said. "It felt good to have that one go down and hopefully I can just get some momentum from that going forward and just keep my confidence up."
It could be tricky to accomplish that, however, as North Carolina State is limiting opponents to 21.7 percent (18 of 83) from 3-point range in its last four games.
The Wolfpack (15-6, 4-2) won the first three but lost at No. 7 North Carolina on Thursday, falling 74-55 despite holding the Tar Heels to 31.3 percent from 3-point range.
N.C. State came into the game averaging 77.0 points and 47.7 percent from the field, but finished with season lows in scoring and shooting percentage (36.8). Scott Wood, who averages a team-best 13.2 points, was the only N.C. State player in double figures with 11. C.J. Leslie, averaging 12.6 points, scored eight on 3-for-12 shooting.
"We were not very sharp offensively," coach Mark Gottfried said. "We've played against good defensive teams this year. So yes, they were very good and at the same time we were not very good. The combination of the two, here we are."
The Wolfpack will likely be in for another tough game offensively.
Virginia is second in the nation in scoring defense (50.1 points per game) while holding opponents to 38.7 percent from the field. In winning the last three in this series, the Cavaliers have held the Wolfpack to averages of 55.7 points and 39.6 percent shooting.
In the lone meeting last season, Joe Harris had a game-high 19 points and Zeglinski added 10 in Virginia's 69-58 home victory.
Harris is averaging 14.6 points in true road games this season while Scott has averaged 20.6.
Updated January 27, 2012