Winning streak meets losing streak when Virginia plays at Duke on Thursday.
The Cavaliers have won 12 consecutive games this season. They have lost 14 straight games at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“It’s going to be a great test for us,” senior guard Sammy Zeglinski said after Saturday’s 52-51 home victory over Miami in the ACC opener for both. “We’re all real anxious to get down there.”
Virginia (14-1, 1-0) is ranked 21st. Duke (13-2, 1-0) is ranked fifth and is coming off an 81-74 victory at Georgia Tech.
The Cavaliers last won at Cameron in 1995, the year Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski was sidelined by exhaustion and a back ailment.
The streak appeared in jeopardy last January, when Virginia led Duke by nine points early in the second half. The Blue Devils won 76-60.
“I thought we had them last year,” Virginia guard Jontel Evans said, “but the experience of Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler overwhelmed us.”
Indeed, Smith scored a game-high 29 points as Duke shot 58.6 percent in the second half.
But Smith and Singler graduated, leaving Duke in the hands of Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly, the Plumlee brothers and freshman Austin Rivers. The Blue Devils average 82 points a game, about 32 more than the Cavaliers allow on average, and the only teams to hold them below 70 were Kansas and Ohio State.
As those names suggest, Duke has played a much tougher schedule than Virginia, as you’d expect from a perennial Final Four contender. The Blue Devils have won 16 of the last 17 in the series against the Cavaliers, and their 43-game home winning streak is the nation’s longest.
All the numbers suggest Thursday will be Virginia’s most challenging game this regular season. But this is clearly the best of Tony Bennett’s three teams at U.Va.
“I look forward to it,” Evans said, “a lot.”
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Here’s a link to my Daily Press print columns, including one from Virginia’s victory over Miami.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times