College Basketball: Virgtinia 88, Wake Forest 76

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 29, 2007

By Matt Reed

Associated Press

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — J.R. Reynolds noticed it immediately.

Dribbling down the court early in the second half, the senior saw that Wake Forest had gone to a triangle-and-two defense, assigning defenders to Reynolds and Sean Singletary and covering everyone else with a zone, trying to force Virginia’s hand.

It didn’t work. After Reynolds (20) and Singletary (17) combined for 37 of Virginia’s 40 first-half points Sunday, Reynolds got 20 more in the second half and got enough help from his teammates to lead the Cavaliers to an 88-76 victory.

“We were ready to do something different against Singletary and Reynolds,” Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser said. “So we did, and the results were self-evident.”

Reynolds hit six 3-pointers in his career-best 40-point performance, and scored nine in a span of a minute and a half as Virginia took a 69-54 lead — its largest.

Virginia coach Dave Leitao said he has spoken with Reynolds in recent practices about not worrying so much about creating plays as a point guard.

“He told me to remember that I’m a shooter first,” Reynolds said. “And tonight I got into the rhythm.”

The Demon Deacons got no closer than eight after Reynolds’ run.

Singletary finished with 19 as Virginia (11-6, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) handed the Demon Deacons their fourth loss in a row.

Wake Forest (9-9, 1-5) got 14 points from freshman Jamie Skeen but only eight from Kyle Visser, who arrived fourth in the conference with a 17.9-point scoring average.

Visser scored just two points in the first and had only two field goals and five rebounds for the game.

“They just attacked me every time I got the ball,” Visser said. “Everyone was digging down, and double teaming seemed to work for them.”

Wake Forest trailed by just two at halftime, 40-38, scoring almost as many points as it did during the entire game Thursday when they lost, 62-40, at No. 14 Duke.

But the Cavaliers opened the second half with a 12-2 run that spanned almost five minutes and finally got players other than Reynolds and Singletary involved in the scoring.

Mamadi Diane, whose career-high 26-point game helped the Cavs get past Maryland on Tuesday, hit two 3-pointers during the run after not scoring in the first.

Leitao said the baskets, which put the Cavaliers up 48-40, were key.

“Essentially they had to play catch up from there,” he said.

Diane’s scores also proved that Wake couldn’t just focus on Reynolds and Singletary.

“They’re trying to say the other guys can’t play,” Reynolds said. “But Mo stepped up.”

Diane finished with 10 points and Jason Cain also had 10.

Ishmael Smith added 13 for Wake Forest, Harvey Hale had 11 and Michael Drum 10.

Wake Forest shot just 39.4 percent, while Virginia shot 52.7 percent.

Prosser said he’s seen Reynolds improve year-by-year.

“That’s sort of the way it used to be in college basketball,” he said. “Guys come in as freshman and do OK, and get better and better and better and then they’re horses as seniors.”