Virginia-Maryland Preview

The Associated Press

Virginia needs to finish the regular season on a positive note in order to gain some confidence heading into the ACC tournament.

A visit to Maryland could provide the Cavaliers with an opportunity to accomplish both.

The No. 24 Cavaliers look to avoid a third consecutive loss when they try for a third straight win over Maryland on Sunday night in this ACC regular-season finale.

Virginia (21-8, 8-7) has dropped four of six, including the last two against sixth-ranked North Carolina and No. 22 Florida State by a combined six points. The Cavaliers failed to hold a four-point halftime lead in the 54-51 loss to the Tar Heels on Feb. 25, then squandered an 11-point advantage in the final 4 1/2 minutes Thursday and lost 63-60 to the Seminoles on Ian Miller's 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left.

Despite 28 points and 10 rebounds from star Mike Scott on Thursday, Virginia lost for the first time in 18 games this season when scoring at least 60 points.

"I told the guys, 'I know it stings. I wish I had words to make it better," coach Tony Bennett told Virginia's official website. "But you're going to be all right. We don't have a ton of games left. You tapped into the assertiveness against a team like Florida State that you better have or else you won't even be in the game."

The Cavaliers have one more chance to build some momentum heading into next week's ACC tournament. That remains their only focus for the moment.

"The only thing we are thinking about right now is the Maryland Terrapins," guard Jontel Evans said.

Despite their recent struggles, the Cavaliers have reason to believe they can turn things around Sunday. Though Virginia is 2-5 away from home in the ACC, it snapped a three-game road skid by shooting a season road-high 59.5 percent in a 61-59 victory at Virginia Tech on Feb. 21.

Now, the Cavaliers face a Maryland squad they blew out 71-44 in Charlottesville on Feb. 18.

Scott scored 25 and the Cavaliers took command with a 16-0 second-half run in that contest. Virginia held ACC scoring leader Terrell Stoglin (21.0 points per game) to 14 and the Terrapins to 26.9 percent shooting.

"I thought (the Cavaliers) executed, they defended their tails off and they played with more toughness,'' Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said of the team that allows an ACC-low 52.6 points per contest. "They were clearly the team that wanted it more. Total domination.''

Though Maryland (16-13, 6-9) is 13-3 at home, the Terps' two ACC losses at the Comcast Center came against Duke and North Carolina by a combined 22 points.

Sammy Zeglinski had a career-high 25 points when the Cavaliers snapped a three-game losing streak at Maryland with a 74-60 victory exactly one year ago Sunday. Stoglin was held to nine points on 4-of-10 shooting.

Zeglinski is averaging 7.8 points during his five-year career, but 13.3 per game in his last four versus Maryland.

Stoglin has been held 4.1 points below his average and shot 27.5 percent (19 of 69) while Maryland has lost three of four overall. He scored 16 on 4-of-18 shooting during Wednesday's 88-64 defeat at North Carolina.

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