Wahoos learn from Duke, turn attention to Wake

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Duke's Zion Williamson was named the ACC's freshman of the week on Monday. In part for his Duke freshman record 35 points in last Monday's overtime loss to Syracuse, and in part for his 27-point night in Saturday's win against Virginia.

Williamson (10-of-16) and fellow freshman forward RJ Barrett (11-of-19) combined for 57 points in the Blue Devils' 72-70 victory over the previously unbeaten Wahoos. Calling that duo "extreme talents" on Monday, UVA coach Tony Bennett conceded that his team could have done more defensively to stop them in the paint.

"We maybe didn't provide enough off-ball assistance as needed in that game," Bennett said. "And maybe that would have helped, to try to make them make a few more passes, and then scramble from there."

Despite that loss, 16-1 UVA rose to a season-best No. 3 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 on Monday afternoon. The top four had remained unchanged since the week of Christmas, but three of those teams lost since last Monday. So Tennessee (16-1) ascended to the top spot this week, with Duke (15-2) dropping to second. Michigan (17-1) fell from No. 2 to fifth after Saturday's loss to Wisconsin. Gonzaga (18-2) rose to fourth.

UVA did drop to No. 3 in the coaches poll after the loss at Duke. The Wahoos had spent the past two weeks, and three of the past four, at No. 1 in those rankings.

Bennett hopes Saturday's outcome brings value in how it can benefit his team the rest of the season.

"You want to improve in victory, but of course, how you respond when you have a tough loss or in adversity, there's such good wisdom in that," he said. "And that's why one of our pillars is thankfulness. Can you be thankful for what a loss or adversity teaches you."

"Can we just keep improving, and when it's time to play the game, be as ready as you can for as long as you can, as well as you can," Bennett added. "And that's really always the focus."

Prior to the Duke loss, UVA started last week by beating then-No. 9 Virginia Tech 81-59 at John Paul Jones Arena on Tuesday. There are no top 10 teams on the schedule this week. Instead, the 'Hoos will face a pair of teams off to 1-4 starts in ACC play -- Wake Forest (8-9 overall) at JPJ on Tuesday, then Notre Dame (11-7 overall) in South Bend on Saturday.

"You have to be ready, whoever you play in this league, because there's enough talent on this team that if you're not right and the other team is, you're going to be in trouble," Bennett said.

UVA has won its last six against the Demon Deacons, and going back to last season, 11 straight at JPJ. Wake beat NC State 71-67 in Winston-Salem last Tuesday, then lost 87-71 to the Hokies in Blacksburg on Saturday.

"You're playing a Wake Forest team -- yeah there's a lot of mention and excitement with our last game against Duke -- that one's behind us, and now it's this one," Bennett said. "You're in a race, so hopefully the ability to play well and improve in areas you need to. And you'll see different kinds of looks, and being as ready as you can. And you're back home, so you want to be as ready to go as possible."



 
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