Wahoo Preview: No. 13 Virginia vs. UAlbany

By Scott Ratcliffe

uva basketball

Photo: UVA Athletics

Virginia concludes its nonconference slate Wednesday night at 6 p.m. against UAlbany at John Paul Jones Arena. The 13th-ranked Cavaliers (8-2, 1-1 ACC) are looking to snap their first losing streak of the season, after a pair of tough losses to ranked, Quad-1 opponents (Houston, Miami).

The Great Danes (5-9) are 2-7 on the road this season. They’re coming off of a win, but have lost five of their last seven games and seven of their last 10 overall. The wins aren’t all that impressive — Immaculata, Union (N.Y.), Presbyterian, Long Island and Northern Illinois.

As of Tuesday afternoon, UAlbany checks in at No. 318 in the NCAA NET rankings and No. 326 in the KenPom rankings (299th AdjO/321st AdjD).

The Great Danes are led by what might be a familiar name to Cavalier fans, as Pitt transfer Gerald Drumgoole Jr. averages a team-high 14.3 points per game, and leads UAlbany with 40 3-point makes on the season (40 percent from long range). He’s fresh off the first double-double of his career (23 points and 11 rebounds), and will be the guy to keep a close eye on in the backcourt.

Jonathan Beagle, a three-time America East Conference Rookie of the Week, puts up 11.4 points and a team-leading 6.7 rebounds per contest.

The lone matchup between the two schools came in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament in Columbus, Ohio, when Virginia eliminated the Great Danes, 84-57.

Reece Beekman looked healthier in the Cavaliers’ two-point loss at Miami last Tuesday, finishing just shy of a triple-double (10 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists) in 35 minutes. The junior guard, who has been battling through a hamstring strain, lost control of the ball while driving towards the basket in the closing seconds against the Hurricanes.

Grad transfer Ben Vander Plas provided a huge lift off the bench against Miami, pouring in a team-high 20 points — including four 3-pointers — that helped the Hoos trim a double-digit, second-half deficit down to one point.

With a win against the Great Danes, Tony Bennett can inch closer to becoming UVA’s all-time winningest coach. He needs just three more victories to pass legendary coach Terry Holland on the school’s career wins list. Bennett is also seven wins away from reaching 400 for his career.

As long as he suits up Wednesday, senior guard Kihei Clark, who is already the all-time minutes-played leader in school history with 4,578, will break a tie with London Perrantes (2014-17) and Mike Tobey (2013-16) for the most games played in Cavalier history with 139.

The Cavaliers have had over a week to rest and prepare for Wednesday’s game (ACC Network), and should be able to bounce back and close out the non-ACC slate with a comfortable victory.