No. 13 Virginia has had plenty of time to ponder its two-game losing streak as the Cavaliers prepare to host Albany on Wednesday night in Charlottesville, Va.
The Cavaliers (8-2) reached No. 2 in the Associated Press Top 25 before suffering losses against ranked opponents Houston and Miami by a combined 10 points.
Virginia has been idle since the 66-64 road loss on Dec. 20 to the then-No. 22 Hurricanes, who rose to No. 14 in the latest poll released Monday.
That was the same night Albany (5-9) played its most recent game, an 83-78 triumph on the road against Northern Illinois. The Great Danes have alternated wins and losses in their last four contests.
Back in action after the Christmas holiday, coach Tony Bennett’s squad hopes to regain the form that saw the Cavaliers shoot 39.6 percent from 3-point range during their 8-0 start. They were 6 of 22 from behind the arc in a 69-61 loss to then-No. 5 Houston (now No. 3) on Dec. 17 and just 6 of 23 at Miami.
“We’ve got work to do,” Bennett said. “… We’ve dipped a little bit, and we’ve got to find a way to be as good as we can be, whatever that is.”
Fifth-year senior Kihei Clark leads the Cavaliers with 11.5 points and 5.1 assists per game. Jayden Gardner averages 11.4 points and a team-high 5.9 rebounds. Three other players average between 9.1 and 9.8 points per game.
Armaan Franklin leads UVA with 17 made 3-pointers, but he was 0-for-3 from long range and 0-for-7 from the field in the loss to the Hurricanes.
This marks the final non-conference game for Virginia (1-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) before it dives back into league play on Saturday at Georgia Tech.
The Cavaliers won the only previous meeting with Albany on March 16, 2007, in the NCAA Tournament. UVA routed the Great Danes 84-57 in a first-round game in Columbus, Ohio.
Unlike Virginia, Albany is coming off its best performance of the season from long distance. The Great Danes drained a season-high 12 3-pointers in the win at Northern Illinois, paced by Gerald Drumgoole’s 5-of-8 effort from deep. He finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
“What I’m most proud of is our ability to rebound the ball,” second-year Albany coach Dwayne Killings said after his team won the battle of the boards against NIU, 38-30. “I think that when we’ve done that, we’ve proven to be a pretty good basketball team.”
Drumgoole leads the Great Danes in scoring (14.3) and ranks second in rebounding (5.2), while Jonathan Beagle is No. 2 in scoring (11.4) and paces the squad on the boards (6.7).
Albany will open its America East Conference schedule at home against New Hampshire on Saturday. The Great Danes, who made three straight NCAA tourneys from 2013-15, were picked to finish sixth in the AEC preseason poll.
Albany is 2-7 on the road this season and Virginia is 5-1 at home.
–Field Level Media