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Virginia's Mamadi Diane draws a reach-in foul from the Deacons' Cameron Stanley during the second half yesterday. Diane stepped up for the Cavs when Wake Forest tried to halt Virginia's top scorers.
CHARLOTTESVILLE--Virginia senior shooting guard J.R. Reynolds swears he never looked up at the scoreboard to see how many points he had in yesterday's Atlantic Coast Conference match-up with Wake Forest.
So instead of focusing on numbers, Reynolds just kept playing.
And by the end of the game, he had a career-high 40 points, and the Cavaliers held off the Demon Deacons for an 88-76 ACC victory at John Paul Jones Arena.
The Cavaliers (11-6, 3-2 ACC) are now 10-1 at their new home.
"I just wanted to keep the ball going, keep the baskets going," Reynolds said. "I was just being aggressive. Not one time did I look up at the scoreboard."
Reynolds' big day came despite sitting out seven minutes in the first half with two fouls.
His 40 points are the most in the ACC by any player this year, eclipsing teammate Sean Singletary's 37 against Gonzaga. It's also the most any Cavalier has poured in since Devin Smith scored 40 against Iowa State in 2004.
No Wake Forest opponent had scored that many since Davidson's John Gerdy scored 40 in 1977.
Demon Deacons head coach Skip Prosser was certainly impressed with Reynolds, who shot 12-of-18 from the floor, 10-of-10 from the free throw line and six-of-eight on 3-pointers.
"Forty points. How much more impressive do you want to get?" Prosser said. "I'm impressed. Obviously we had no answer for him."
Singletary, the ACC's leading scorer, added 19 points for Virginia.
Wake Forest (9-9, 1-5) was paced by 14 points and eight rebounds from freshman forward Jamie Skeen.
Kyle Visser, the league's fourth-leading scorer, was held to eight points on two-of-10 shooting.
Virginia shot 53 percent for the game and made 11 3-pointers, including a combined nine from Singletary and Reynolds.
"Some of those 3s were like fours," Prosser said.
The Cavaliers led 40-38 at halftime.
However, there was just one problem: Reynolds and Singletary had scored 37 of the 40 points.
Reynolds had 20 and Singletary had 17, but senior forward Jason Cain was the only other Virginia player with a field goal.
That prompted Prosser to switch to a triangle-and-two defense, focused on stopping Reynolds and Singletary.
The strategy backfired.
Sophomore swingman Mamadi Diane, who was coming off a career-high 26 points against Maryland, got going. He scored all 10 of his points in the second half as the Cavaliers' lead grew as high as 14 points.
Diane opened the second half with two early 3s, stretching Virginia's lead to eight.
"That's kind of disrespectful when you shut two guys out and leave everybody else in the zone with no man responsibilities," Singletary said of Wake's defensive strategy. "Mamadi took advantage of that. He's a great scorer. I guess they didn't see that he just got 26."
Prosser defended his move, saying he didn't like seeing Reynolds and Singletary score so freely in the first half.
He admitted that it was a gamble, but he needed to see if players like Diane and Cain could make open shots.
"Did you see the first half?" Prosser asked a reporter who questioned his strategy. "[Reynolds and Singletary] had 37 out of 40 points. We had to try something. What we were doing with those two kids in the first half wasn't working."
The Cavaliers went on a 12-2 run at the start of the second half.
Cain, Diane and sophomore forward Laurynas Mikalauskas scored all 12 points during the run. The Demon Deacons never recovered. The closest they got the rest of the way was eight points.
Diane became aggressive in the second half, even calling for the ball on one occasion.
"When I realized what they were doing, I saw an opportunity," Diane said. "They didn't want to play me, so I just had to take it to them."
While the supporting cast stepped up in the second half, the first belonged to Reynolds and Singletary.
The Cavaliers led 13-2 early in the half, but Wake Forest rallied and led briefly.
After Cain opened the game with a baseline jumper, Singletary and Reynolds scored the Cavaliers' next 24 points. The run was stopped by a Tunji Soroye free throw with 5:52 left.
"J.R. and Sean in the first half were nothing short of phenomenal--making plays and shooting deep, deep 3s," Cavaliers coach Dave Leitao said. "Both of them in the first half just backed up and still made shots. When they do that, it makes the game a little more simple for us."
The Cavaliers look to get their first road win on Wednesday when they visit N.C. State at 9 p.m.
WAKE FOREST (9-9, 1-5)
Swinton 0-1 5-6 5, Drum 4-8 0-0 10, Visser 2-10 4-6 10, ISmith 5-12 1-2 13, Williams 4-8 0-0 8, Dukes 1-2 0-0 2, Hale 3-7 3-4 11, Stanley 0-2 0-0 0, Skeen 6-9 0-2 14, Gurley 1-5 0-0 3, Weaver 0-2 2-2 2. Totals 26-66 15-22 76.
VIRGINIA (11-6, 3-2)
Mikalauskas 1-2 0-0 2, Cain 4-6 2-2 10, Reynolds 12-18 10-10 40, Diane 4-8 0-0 10, Singletary 5-8 6-6 19, Harris 0-2 0-3 0, Tucker 0-1 0-0 0, Soroye 0-0 1-1 1, Joseph 3-8 0-0 6, Burns 0-0 0-0 0, Tat, 0-2 0-0 0, Meyinsse 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-55 19-22 88.
To reach TAFT COGHILL JR.:
Virginia 88, Wake Forest 76