Virginia was unranked when it headed across the country this past weekend, but another strong defensive performance helped change that.
In the Top 25 for the first time in four years, the No. 24 Cavaliers will conclude their stay in the Pacific Northwest with Wednesday night's game against Seattle, a team that beat them at home last season.
Virginia (9-1) has emerged as one of the nation's best defensive teams, allowing averages of 48.5 points and 37.2 percent shooting. The Cavaliers have relied on those defensive efforts to record all but one of their wins by double digits.
In their first road game this season, they held Oregon to 24 points and 39.3 percent shooting over the final 20 minutes Sunday to rally for a 67-54 victory, their seventh in a row. Leading scorer and rebounder Mike Scott had a team-best 17 points and 13 rebounds, his fourth double-double this season.
"That is college basketball, being able to go on the road and handle some adversity," coach Tony Bennett said.
Scott, a senior forward who was granted a fifth year of eligibility after missing most of last season with an ankle injury, is scoring 15.5 points per game and is among the ACC's top rebounders with 9.5 per contest. Sophomore guard Joe Harris is the only other Cavaliers player averaging double figures in points at 12.7.
Their efforts have helped the team earn its first ranking since a one-week stay at No. 23 from Nov. 19-25, 2007. Virginia is also closing in on its best start since winning 11 of 12 to open 2000-01, and its first eight-game win streak since Dec. 21, 2009-Jan. 18, 2010.
The Cavaliers will try to secure that against a Seattle team that beat them 59-53 in Charlottesville in the only matchup between the schools Dec. 22.
Redhawks sophomore guard Sterling Carter had 19 points during that victory, and senior forward Aaron Broussard chipped in 15 points and 10 rebounds. They also helped limit Virginia to 30.2 percent shooting, including a 2-for-20 performance from 3-point range.
Seattle, though, hardly looks poised for another upset, having defeated one Division I opponent this season and dropping its past five games by an average of 16.4 points.
The Redhawks (2-7) shot a season-low 29.2 percent and were 3 of 23 from beyond the arc during a 78-53 defeat at Utah State on Saturday. No Seattle player scored more than eight points in that loss and Broussard, averaging a team-best 14.4 points, was held to a season-low four on 1-of-8 shooting.
Sophomore forward Clarence Trent, a transfer from Washington, is the only other Redhawks player averaging double figures in points with 11.7 per game.
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