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February 27, 2009

Looking to end road woes at Virginia

Still searching for a second road win in ACC play, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons travel to Charlottesville, Virginia for an afternoon matchup with the Virginia Cavaliers. As expected, Virginia has had a rough season, with an overall record of 9-15 and a 3-10 record in conference.

Nonetheless, the Cavaliers have enjoyed a bit of a hot streak of late, winning two of their last three home games against upper tier ACC teams in Clemson and Virginia Tech. Virginia has been led by impressive freshman Sylven Landesberg, who averages 17.8 points, almost 7 rebounds, and has been named ACC rookie of the week six times this season.

The game will be Wake's third in six days, having lost at Duke last Sunday night before beating NC State at home on Thursday. Although Jeff Teague has not been quite the standout he was earlier in the season, both James Johnson and Ishmael Smith have stepped up to lead the Deacons. Against NC State Thursday night Johnson had career highs in both points and rebounds, while Smith came one point shy of his own career high in points.

Perhaps the thing these two teams have most in common is their youth. Virginia and Wake Forest are tied for the youngest average starting lineup in the ACC. However, despite the standout play of Landsberg, the rest of the roster hasn't provided the support needed for the Cavaliers to have a good season. They should not be able to stay with the size, strength, speed, and depth of the Demon Deacon roster.

Wake has never won in Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena, losing the only game they played there in 2007. In fact, Virginia has won six of the last seven meetings between the two teams in Charlottesville.

This game and the next game at Maryland are very important. Wake has struggled on the road in ACC play and could really use a couple of wins to solidify themselves in the top four of the ACC standings. Both the coaches and players know they need to step up their play to earn a couple of road victories.

"I think it's hard to win on the road," said head coach Dino Gaudio. "There's really good teams in this league. There are really good players and I think there's a tremendous amount of positive energy for the home team. I don't care who you are. If you try to go on the road and win on this league, it's a difficult chore. Hopefully we have the wherewithal to do that on Saturday."


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