Boston College-Virginia Preview

The Associated Press

After a solid non-conference run, Virginia has gotten off to a mediocre start in ACC play.

Being without its starting center for potentially the rest of the regular season isn't helping.

Looking to bounce back after losing their first game without 7-foot senior Assane Sene, the 19th-ranked Cavaliers should have a good chance to do so when they host Boston College on Thursday night.

Virginia (15-3, 2-2) was dealt a big blow Friday when Sene had surgery to repair an injured right ankle suffered in Thursday's win over Georgia Tech. He's expected to miss roughly a month and a half.

Without Sene, the Cavaliers lost to rival Virginia Tech 47-45 on Sunday, shooting a season-worst 32.6 percent. It's the fifth time in six games they've scored 58 points or fewer.

"We still have to adjust without Assane,'' coach Tony Bennett said. "We have to take a look at those things and look at our scoring drought so we can get to the line and create some offense.''

The loss of Sene leaves Bennett with only eight available scholarship players after K.T. Harrell and James Johnson left the program right before Christmas.

"We are a little limited with our numbers,'' Bennett said. "We have to figure out what is best.''

Mike Scott has been by far the most consistent, averaging 16.6 points and shooting 57.8 percent. He scored only 10 points Sunday while seeing more double teams due to Sene's absence.

"It made a difference offensively and defensively,'' Scott said.

Jontel Evans and Joe Harris also had 10 points apiece. They are part of the three-guard lineup Bennett plans to use to gain a speed and quickness advantage with Sene out.

"We miss him a lot,'' Evans said. "He's a great communicator. He really helps on the weak side, so it was tough playing without him.''

The Cavaliers seem to have the defensive mindset to adjust to Sene's absence. Virginia ranks second in the nation in scoring defense behind No. 25 Wisconsin, allowing only 50.2 points per game.

Additionally, the Cavaliers rank among the nation's top 20 in rebounding margin (plus-7.1), while the Eagles are among the 15 worst (minus-6.3).

That doesn't bode well for a Boston College team that also ranks last in the ACC in both scoring average (61.2) and field-goal percentage (41.3).

The Eagles (7-12, 2-3) tied their season low by shooting 31.1 percent - including 4 for 21 from 3-point range - in Saturday's 71-56 loss to Wake Forest.

Freshman Ryan Anderson scored 13 points and classmate Jordan Daniels added 12 for Boston College, which has lost two straight and five of its last seven - four by at least 14 points.

Boston College doesn't have a single player averaging in double figures. Dennis Clifford leads the team with 9.8 points per game, followed by Anderson, Matt Humphrey and Patrick Heckmann at 9.6 each.

The Eagles, though, haven't had much trouble with Virginia in recent seasons. They've won five of the last six meetings after thrashing the Cavaliers 63-44 in Charlottesville on Feb. 26.

Boston College has lost each of its three true road games, while Virginia's loss Sunday ended a nine-game home winning streak.

The Eagles will be without backup guard John Cahill, who is expected to miss another week with a shoulder injury.

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