It was a loss few Virginia basketball fans saw coming.
Virginia Tech came into John Paul Jones Arena on January 22 and beat the Cavaliers 47-45, holding UVa to its lowest scoring output of the season.
The Cavaliers had won 13 of their last 14 -- but had just lost their seven-foot center -- prior to that game. The win snapped a four-game Virginia Tech losing streak and was the Hokies' first in ACC play.
Now the two teams meet again on Tuesday night in Blacksburg.
"Of course, it's a rivalry game. So it means a lot to a lot of people," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said on Monday. "But we know each game we play, for however many are left, are really significant, and we want to just play to the best of our abilities. And when you get into revenge, or those kinds of things, that usually goes away pretty quick."
Virginia enters Tuesday's game ranked 25th in the country, according to the latest Associated Press poll released on Monday. The Cavaliers dropped out of the latest coaches' poll, after a 1-1 performance last week.
The Cavaliers followed up last Tuesday's 60-48 loss at Clemson with a 71-44 win at home over Maryland to give the program its first 20-win season since 2006-07.
The Hokies dropped five of their next seven after their win in Charlottesville, before a 74-73 buzzer-beater win in overtime against Georgia Tech on Saturday. They enter Tuesday's game 15-12, 4-8 in the ACC.
"Hopefully it'll be a turnaround, that we can close these games out," junior guard Erick Green said Monday. "The last game was the first game we really played 40 minutes; we didn't give up. We overcame adversity, so hopefully that's a step forward and we can keep it going."
"You're always wanting to sweep (the season series), because it's UVa, so you're wanting to sweep, " said senior guard Dorenzo Hudson. "I don't really think about they really hurt our chances at the NCAA Tournament. It's a rivalry game, so we definitely want to get that sweep."
Bennett pointed out on Monday that last month's loss to the Hokies was the first game the Cavaliers had played after learning they had lost senior center Assane Sene to a broken ankle. Sene injured the ankle three days earlier in a 70-38 win at Georgia Tech.
Bennett says his team has been reviewing the film from its first meeting with Virginia Tech, but he's got something other than the Hokies on his mind.
"At this stage of the year, it really turns a little more inward, and becomes about yourself; your team; how you're playing; what you're bringing to the floor," he said. "I think that's the significant thing for us at this stage."
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