The national spotlight focused on No. 3 Virginia has dimmed — for now.
After breaking even in a pair of top-10 games last week, the Cavaliers kick off a decidedly less grueling stretch Tuesday when Wake Forest comes to John Paul Jones Arena.
The Demon Deacons are not of the same caliber of No. 10 Virginia Tech, which Virginia beat by 22 points, or No. 2 Duke, which edged Virginia, 72-70. But Wake Forest is used to punching above its weight, and on Jan. 15, the team stunned No. 21 N.C. State, 71-67.
Virginia (16-1, 4-1 ACC) will aim to stave off a similar result against Wake Forest (8-9, 1-4). Here are three things to know about the upset-minded Demon Deacons.
1. They have proven to be capable perimeter defenders
It might've been hard to believe watching the Demon Deacons’ 87-71 loss to the Hokies this past Saturday, during which Virginia Tech shot 11-for-26 from long range, but Wake Forest has shown the ability to defend the perimeter well this season.
It did as much four days earlier at home against N.C. State. The Wolfpack finished just 6-for-29 (20.7 percent) from behind the arc, well below their season average of 38.1 percent.
Virginia is second in the conference in 3-point shooting (39.7 percent), but the Cavaliers were off the mark against Duke, finishing 3-for-17 from long range.
“We got some good looks, for the most part, I believe,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said of this team’s performance in the Duke game. “You need to make some outside shots against that defense.”
2. They are led by guard Brandon Childress
The junior is Wake Forest’s answer to Kyle Guy. The junior guard averages a team-high 16.8 points per game and is tied for seventh in the conference in 3-point shooting (44 percent).
Virginia will aim to prevent Childress from having a big game like he did last time out, when he scored 28 points in the team’s loss to Virginia Tech.
3. They lost their lone game against UVa last season
The ACC rivals played once last season, with Virginia earning 59-49 win on Jan. 21, 2018. Guy scored 17 points and De’Andre Hunter added 16 in what was the Wahoos’ 10th win in a row.
The Cavaliers were particularly effective in the second half, holding Wake Forest to 30 percent shooting after halftime. The Wahoos converted 46 percent of their shots over the same period.
It was a close game until the end. Neither team had led by more than seven when Hunter drained a 3-pointer to give Virginia a 53-45 lead with 3:47 to go.