As he looked for answers regarding why Virginia couldn't snap its now 10-game losing streak at Wake Forest's Joel Coliseum on Wednesday night, Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett didn't need to go far to find the culprit.
It's an issue he'll have to address with his team prior to another short turnaround into a lengthy road trip Saturday, but there isn't a quick fix. His team's troubles in its ugly 55-52 loss to Wake Forest on Wednesday night were more about attitude and focus — tough concepts to teach in a film room.
Either you have it or don't, and U.Va. (11-4 overall, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) didn't have it against Wake Forest.
"When you go on the road, you have to bring an approach that is you're willing to execute … we just got out of sync," said Bennett, whose team turned the ball over 17 times and shot just 36.4 percent from the floor while falling behind by 14 points in the second half prior to a late rally that came up short.
"I told our guys they battled hard to get back to that spot, but don't feel good about that."
U.Va., which couldn't get a shot off on its last possession after having 5.3 seconds with which to work the ball up the floor, is in the midst of an odd stretch of futility in Joel Coliseum. U.Va. hasn't won there since 2000.
Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium, the site of 15 consecutive U.Va. losses, is the only ACC gym in which the Cavaliers have endured a longer skid. U.Va. also has lost nine straight games in Florida State's Tucker Center.
Now U.Va. is headed Saturday to Clemson (8-6, 0-2) for a noon game. U.Va. has lost three straight in Littlejohn Coliseum, and last left there with a win in 2007.
"We've really got to bounce back strong," said freshman forward Mike Tobey, who led U.Va. with 14 points off the bench on 6 of 9 shooting from the floor at Wake Forest. "Clemson's a real physical team, and we've got to be real physical with them and come out with the same passion we had against UNC [in last Sunday night's 61-52 win by U.Va.]. We need that win."
Coming into the Wake Forest game, U.Va. had shot an incredible 50 percent (25 of 50) as a team from 3-point range in its three previous games. It was second in the conference in 3-point shooting (39.4 percent) as a team for the season.
All that hot shooting was nowhere to be found against Wake Forest (8-6, 1-1), as U.Va. didn't make its first shot from 3-point range until freshman Evan Nolte connected with 56 seconds left to cut Wake Forest's lead to 50-46. U.Va. finished 3 of 11 on 3-point shots.
U.Va. point guard Jontel Evans, a Bethel High graduate who started his first game since re-injuring his surgically repaired right foot Dec. 5 against Tennessee, couldn't get the ball cleanly to Tobey on the right wing for a 3-point shot in the closing seconds.
"I definitely just take this loss upon myself," Evans said. "I blame it all on me."
After Wednesday's game, Evans said the foot he had surgery on in October to relieve pain from a stress fracture was only feeling a little sore. He said he'd be ready for the Clemson trip.
"This is what the ACC is about," said Evans, who had two points, three assists and four turnovers against Wake Forest. "We've just got to grind it out. Guys are a little beat up, but so what? This is why we signed that letter of intent, to play in this type of competition. This (Wake Forest) loss is behind us, and now we're looking forward to Clemson and trying to go in there and get a win in a tough environment."