Tale of the Tape: Virginia at Wake Forest

Virginia’s Jay Huff starts a primal scream as he prepares to dunk in the first half against NC State (Photo by John Markon).

Virginia looks to make it eight wins in a row against Wake Forest Sunday, as the two conference rivals clash at Lawrence Joel Coliseum at noon (ACC Network).

UVA has a 6-18 record all-time at Joel Coliseum, but has won the last three meetings on the Demon Deacons’ home floor.

The Cavaliers (12-6, 4-4 ACC) have dropped three of their last four games overall, and five of their last eight. As the midway point of the conference schedule is quickly approaching, the Wahoos find themselves in the middle of the pack in the standings after several closely contested defeats.

A win against Wake would put the ‘Hoos in a three-way tie for fifth with NC State and Virginia Tech, with the hopes of a top-four seed and double-bye for the ACC Tournament still within reach.

Halfway through Saturday’s Division I game schedule, UVA finds itself outside the top 50 in the KenPom ratings at No. 52 (2nd AdjD, 252nd AdjO). Wake Forest is currently No. 103 overall (67th AdjO, 146th AdjD).

It’s been over seven years since Wake (9-9, 2-6) defeated Virginia (Jan. 9, 2013), as the Deacons have struggled under head coach Danny Manning, who is in his sixth year.

Since taking over for Jeff Bzdelik in 2014, Manning’s teams have only enjoyed one winning season (2016-17; 19-14) and have a combined ACC record of 26-72 over that stretch.

The Deacons have lost four of their last five games, with a win over Boston College sandwiched in between. They came up just short at Clemson on Tuesday, 71-68. Wake has posted a couple of impressive wins — one over then-No. 23 Xavier in Winston-Salem in mid-December, 80-78, and then another one a few weeks later at Pitt, 69-65, before dropping three straight against Florida State, Duke and Virginia Tech earlier this month.

The Deacs are giving up the second-highest point total per game among ACC teams (73.1) and rank next-to-last in field-goal percentage defense, as opponents are shooting at a 44-percent clip. Manning’s squad also ranks dead last in the league in steals (only 4.7 a game) and turnover margin (minus-3.6).

Wake senior point guard Brandon Childress, son of assistant coach and former Wake star Randolph Childress, is the Deacs’ leading scorer at 15.2 points per game, while also leading the team in assists (4.7) and steals (1.2) per game.

Junior center Olivier Sarr is a 7-footer who ranks second in the ACC in rebounding (9.5 a game) to go along with a scoring average of 13 a night. Saar has registered double-doubles in each of his last two contests and has seven on the season, while coming up a rebound or two shy of a few more.

Transfer Andrien White from Charlotte has given the Deacs a lift offensively with junior guard Chaundee Brown (13.3 ppg) on the shelf. Brown, who averaged 20.3 points over the last three games he played in, has missed the last five games with a leg injury and is questionable for Sunday’s game. Isaiah Mucius, who sat out against BC and only played 11 minutes against Clemson Tuesday, is recovering from a leg injury of his own.

As a result, White — whose older brother, Andrew III, played his high-school ball at nearby Miller School in Crozet before eventually playing a grad year at Syracuse — lit it up against Clemson, leading Wake with 22 points, including three makes from 3-point land. White is averaging 15 points over his last three games.

The Cavaliers are a 4½-point favorite Sunday, and will then have another short turnaround as they host fifth-ranked FSU for a rematch Tuesday at 7 on ESPN.

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(Through 1/25/20)

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