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Published: Sunday, 3/18/2007

Cavaliers unfazed by peek at Vols

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

COLUMBUS - Virginia's players were in the stands at Nationwide Arena on Friday when their opponent today, Tennessee, scored 121 points in an opening-round win against Long Beach State.

The Cavaliers were impressed, but not overly concerned about there being a repeat in today's second-round game, scheduled for a 12:10 p.m. tipoff.

"Long Beach wasn't offering up much resistance, but you still have to have a lot of talent to put up that many points," Virginia guard Sean Singletary said yesterday. "We'll have our hands full, but we're not concerned about a shootout because we play defense. If we do our job, [the Volunteers] won't be able to get up too many comfortable shots. It should be a different story because we'll offer up some resistance."

Tennessee's 121 points on Friday is tied for sixth among the highest-scoring performances in NCAA tournament history. It is the most scored since UNLV tallied 131 points against Loyola Marymount on March 25, 1990.

Interestingly, although it's fairly ancient history, the last time Tennessee and Virginia met it was the Cavaliers who reached triple digits in a 107-89 win over the fourth-ranked Vols in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 19, 2000.

GETTING SECONDS: Today's Southern-Illinois,Virginia Tech contest, scheduled for an approximate 2:40 tipoff, will be a rematch of an early-season meeting (Nov. 26) at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla. SIU won that game, 69-64.

"It was one of those games where we came out, played hard, and left it all on the court and that's the same way we have to play from here on out," said SIU senior guard Tony Young. "They're a different team than they were in Orlando. They might not have seen that type of pressure then, but they have after going through [Atlantic Coast Conference] play. They're going to come out and be ready to play."

Tech coach Seth Greenberg hopes so. His four guards who see considerable playing time have 329 assists against just 178 turnovers this season. But in the earlier game against SIU the Hokies were guilty of 18 turnovers, 10 of which came on steals by the Salukis.

"We've got to take care of the basketball because [the Salukis] put on great pressure," Greenberg said. "They're extremely aggressive. They're tough."

Southern Illinois allows just 56.3 points per game, which is the No. 3 scoring defense in the nation.

HE'S NO. 1: Southern Illinois' Young is the active NCAA leader in games played with 136. The Salukis are 106-30 with Young in the lineup.

BUCKEYE BOUND: The winner of today's Tennessee-Virginia game at Nationwide Arena, which is just a few miles from the Ohio State campus, will advance to the South Region semifinals next Thursday in San Antonio against the top-seeded Buckeyes.

HOT TICKETS: The NCAA announced yesterday approximately 550 second-round game tickets from one of the team blocks were stolen Friday night in Columbus. A spokesman said those tickets had been invalidated in the turnstile computer system and that new tickets were printed and issued.

WELL TESTED: It would figure that Tennessee's regular-season schedule has the Vols well-prepared for a tourney run. Tennessee played the fifth-toughest slate in the nation and met nine teams that also qualified for the NCAA tournament. The schedule included games against three teams that received No. 1 seeds - Ohio State, Florida, and North Carolina - as well as No. 2 seed Memphis.

LONG STREAK: Virginia's starting guards, Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds, have both scored in double figures in 21 consecutive games.

In the Cavs' 84-57 romp past Albany in the opening round, the two guards each scored 20-plus points for the fourth time this season.

Contact Blade sports columnist

Dave Hackenberg at:

dhack@theblade.com

or 419-724-6398.



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