COLUMBUS, Ohio – When the brackets were announced for the NCAA Tournament, it seemed like Albany was ecstatic with the Virginia draw – not a lot of experience, an offensively challenged frontcourt, and a dynamic guard that could cancel out Sean Singletary . In some ways, it seemed like UA didn’t fully respect the Cavaliers.
You won’t hear the same thing from the Tennessee contingent now that the Vols and Hoos both advanced to the second round.
The Volunteers were nothing but complimentary during media interviews Saturday. They repeatedly called Singletary and J.R. Reynolds NBA caliber guards. They talked about how hard it would be to press and how great the Cavs’ defense is. Theoretically, it could be the Lou Holtz routine where everyone is talked up ad nausea before the game – it sounded like genuine respect, though.
“We’re very excited to have advanced and be playing in the second round. The opponent is extremely formidable – Virginia winning the ACC season with North Carolina had such an outstanding season,” Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. “This will be a terrific challenge for us.”
Naturally, much of the discussion focused on UVa’s star guards. Singletary and Reynolds backed up their stellar seasons with a great NCAA Tournament debut. The duo combined for 51 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists in the first round.
Reynolds’ 28-point outburst on 9-of-13 shooting overshadowed in some ways another outstanding outing from Singletary. The Cav junior poured in 23 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds while completely dictating the tempo and flow of the game. When Reynolds was red hot in the first half, he found him for open shots in transition. When the team needed a big shot in the second half, he made it. He threw his body around and went for loose balls.
In other words, it was typical Singletary. And that says as much as anything.
The Vols know that the Philadelphia native will make plays against them too.
“We look a the breakdown film and you look at the play sets and try to take some things away, but then there are some highlights that you just really can’t do anything about,” Tennessee’s Dane Bradshaw said. “He’s going to make great plays. They’re going to score. He just has tremendous ability and it’s going to take 10 eyes out there watching the ball and that’s tough because you have J.R. Reynolds out there as a huge threat as well. So...
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