For one afternoon, at least, the Virginia men's basketball team seemed to be back on track.
A combination of tough defense and strong shooting allowed the No. 22 Cavaliers to pull away from Maryland in the second half of Saturday's game at John Paul Jones Arena. Virginia outscored the Terrapins 40-13 after halftime to win, 71-44.
The game was tied 31-31 at halftime.
It was Virginia's 20th win of the season, marking the first time the program has reached that plateau since 2006-07.
The Cavaliers also avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season. Back-to-back road losses at North Carolina and Clemson had some calling Saturday a "must-win" game for Virginia -- including junior guard Jontel Evans.
"Oh yeah, definitely. Must-win," he said afterward. "After those two losses, we definitely had to come in here and get a win. We've got to get our swagger back. Get back on track."
"Especially me," Evans added. "I don't know about the other guys, but deep down I knew it was a must-win."
Most of Evans' teammates disagreed, at least publicly.
"We definitely wanted the win, but we weren't saying it's a must-win," said senior guard Sammy Zeglinski, who finished with 11 points. "We just wanted to focus on what we could control, and come out and play Virginia basketball. I felt like we got away from that in the last couple games, so we just wanted to play our style of basketball."
"It was definitely a bounce-back game for us," said sophomore forward Akil Mitchell, who pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds. "We knew we had to get our passion, our energy back. I think we were kind of lacking in that the last few games. It was a big game; I wouldn't say must-win though."
Senior Mike Scott once again led the Cavaliers with 25 points, the highest total of his career in an ACC game. Scott has now scored in double figures in 13 straight games.
Freshman Malcolm Brogdon added 14 points off the bench.
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