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Virginia vs. N.C. State.
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Date published: 12/4/2006
CHARLOTTESVILLE--University of Virginia men's basketball coach Dave Leitao isn't one to coddle his players when they're in a slump.
So as Cavaliers senior J.R. Reynolds was struggling in yesterday's Atlantic Coast Conference opener against N.C. State, Leitao got in the face of his standout shooting guard.
Reynolds, who had missed 15 of his last 21 shots dating back to Wednesday's loss at Purdue, responded.
He drilled a key 3-pointer from the right corner that gave the No. 25 Cavaliers a one-point lead with 1:40 left as they went on to edge the Wolfpack 67-62 in the first-ever ACC game in John Paul Jones Arena.
After his big 3, Reynolds stared down his demanding coach.
"I was in him pretty good based on the Purdue game," Leitao said. "I was trying to implore him to find his rhythm. Sometimes I don't do that so nicely."
After the game, Reynolds didn't say what his coach told him, only saying it was pretty "explicit."
Leitao said Reynolds' intense stare was the type of response he was looking for. Cavaliers junior point guard Sean Singletary understood.
"Coach Leitao is a teacher. If you're not doing something right, he's going to get on you," Singletary said. "But he does it in your best interests. He's not trying to embarrass anybody."
Reynolds' 3 put the Cavaliers (5-1, 1-0 ACC) ahead 62-61. After the Wolfpack tied it at 62 on a Ben McCauley free throw, Singletary made a 17-foot jumper with 1:03 left to give his team a 64-62 lead.
With Virginia ahead 65-62, Wolfpack freshman Brandon Costner missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key, and Singletary rebounded. He made two free throws with 5.9 seconds left to seal the Cavaliers' first win in an ACC opener since 1995. The loss was the first of the season for N.C. State (5-1, 0-1).
"It's important because we need to get every ACC win we can get," Reynolds said. "It's definitely pretty important to start at the top and not the bottom."
Leitao said yesterday's win "falls in the category of any win is a good win."
It certainly wasn't pretty.
Virginia shot just 31 percent from the floor in the first half and 38 percent for the game. However, they found another way to come out on top: rebounding.