UVA set for late-season rematch with Hokies

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WFXR) — Tony Bennett said it was one of his team’s best games of the year.

“We played really well,” the Virginia head coach said regarding the Cavaliers’ last meeting with the Hokies. “(Virginia Tech) didn’t shoot as well. They had some open looks as you go back and watch the tape.”

The last Commonwealth Clash saw UVA defeat its in-state rival, 65-39, in Charlottesville. But that game took place on January 4 and much has changed since then.

“They’ve had flashes of playing some really good basketball. So you look at it, but you know it’s a lot of games removed and it’s at there place and you know at this time of year, everything is a battle,” Bennett said.

Both UVA and Virginia Tech have had their share of ups and downs since that Jan. 5 meeting at John Paul Jones Arena. But heading into Wednesday’s match-up in Blacksburg, the two teams are on very different paths.

The Wahoos have won seven of their last eight, most recently edging Pitt, 59-56, on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Hokies have lost seven of their last eight after a triple-overtime defeat to Miami followed by a lop-sided result against Duke last week.

Bennett can relate to the struggles of a young team trying to find consistency in a league like the ACC.

“Like all of us when you don’t have the most experienced team, you’re striving for consistency. And that sometimes, you can grasp it and it can be fleeting,” Bennett said. “But they’ve played some really good basketball and there’s times when your youth or inexperience has led to some inconsistency. Point in case, us and others in the league. You know you can be close but not quite and that’s probably happened at times.”

Prior to the Hokies’ recent struggles, they went on a run of success, winning four out of five games after losing to the Cavaliers.

“Early on they’ve been good and they’ve had flashes so I think it’s just continuing to build it,” Bennett said.

As Virginia puts its four-game win streak on the line on Wednesday night, Bennett knows not to look too much at how the ‘Hoos were able to dominate the Hokies in early January.

“That’s fool’s gold,” Bennett said. “Because any team, any night. And I think the intensity playing at Virginia Tech over the years and what their team is capable of, as they’ve shown, is very real.”

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