After a rough stretch of games and coming up with nothing to show for it but some brutally tough losses the Virginia Cavaliers (11-9, 2-7) decided to shake thing up a little in an attempt to find a victory. Traveling to Raleigh to face the North Carolina State Wolfpack (13-9, 3-6 )Pete Gillen and staff tinkered with the starting lineup benching senior Elton Brown looking to get a faster squad on the court. Surprisingly to many it worked as the Hoos held off a late rally by the Wolfpack for a 64-62 victory as Sean Singletary had two huge baskets in the final minute and a half to seal the win.
In the first half after falling behind early the Hoos battled back as Devin Smith scored 10 points in the first 20 minutes and Gary Forbes coming off the bench adding 8 points. T.J. Bannister was inserted in the starting lineup replacing Brown and responded nicely by scoring 6 points in the first 10 minutes of the game gaining the attention of the Wolfpack defense. Taking a 34-23 lead into the locker room things were going well with the new smaller lineup. As many of you already know though theHoos seem to stumble in the second half so the Hoo faithful held their breathe waiting to see what the second 20 minutes would bring.
As the second half opened the Hoos pushed the lead to 14 points and then it happened. The Hoos went 10 minutes without a field goal until Gary Forbes knocked down a three pointer at the 8:30 mark. At that point however the jumper by Forbes knotted the game at 50 and it appeared the Hoos were going to fold once again. This time however the team persevered and knocked down their free throws to give themselves a shot at sneaking into the RBC Center and escaping with a victory. In the waning minutes freshman Sean Singletary put the team on his back and calmly knocked down a jumper with 1:14 left and then rebounded his own missed jumper with 4 seconds left and put it back for the final margin.
For the Wolfpack point guard Tony Bethel scored 20 points while freshman Cedric Simmons chipped in with 16 points on the night. The loss stunned the Wolfpack faithful and in turn helped take a little of the heat off of Virginia head coach Pete Gillen.
Leading the way for the Hoos on the night was Devin Smith and T.J. Bannister with with 14 points each. Smith pulled down 8 rebounds and Bannister dished out a team leading 6 assists. Also reaching double figures were Gary Forbes and Sean Singletary with 11 points each. Singletary's final four were the most critical however and for that he earns our HooNation.com player of the game award for helping the Hoos get back into the win column.
Afterwards Pete Gillen had this to offer, "We weren't real big but we played with courage."
The freshman hero Singletary had this to say for the general media, "At the end, I had the confidence that I knew was going to make the shot. It came off (the rim), but I got it back. It was right there so I didn't have anything else to do but score."
Singletary also spoke with HooNation.com after the game and had this to say, "Just tell the fans to stick with us and lay off of "E" cause that's my man...he's gonna do his thing." We asked him about the late game heroics and the new lineup which featured dribble penetration most of the afternoon. "I could've been doing it all game but he told us to chill and be patient."
Next on the schedule for the Hoos are the Florida State Seminoles who venture to University Hall Wednesday night at 7:30.