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Nov. 28, 2001

Virginia looks to remain unbeaten as it plays host to Michigan State in theACC-Big 10 Challenge at Richmond Coliseum on Wednesday.

The ninth-ranked Cavaliers (3-0) are coming off a 115-66 rout of Howard atUniversity Hall on Nov. 21. Chris Williams scored 22 points and Roger Masonhad 21, as both sank five 3-pointers for Virginia – which finished with 143-pointers, one short of the school record set in 1960.

The Cavaliers have topped the 100-point mark twice, and are averaging 101.7points. Individually, five players are averaging double figures, includingMason (21.7 ppg) and Williams (20.3 ppg) averaging over 20 apiece.

Virginia coach Pete Gillen is very high on both Mason and Williams.

“Roger is a tremendous player and still has room to get better. If he stayshealthy, he has a chance to have a terrific third year,” Gillen said. “Icall Chris the ‘silent assassin’ because he might score 21 points and youdon’t even realize it. He usually has his best games against the bestteams.”

This meeting is just the third between Virginia and No. 22 Michigan State,and the first since the 1948-49 season. The Spartans won the first twomeetings, 51-46 in 1946-47 and 62-43 in 1948-49.

After three straight seasons of reaching the Final Four, the Spartans (2-2)are off to a tough start, and have lost two straight – against No. 12Syracuse and 24th-ranked Fresno State.

Virginia returns four starters from its 2001 NCAA tournament team. In fact,current Cavaliers have a combined 267 career games started. By comparison,Spartans players have started a combined total of 59, with 20 of thosecoming this season.

Inexperience usually leads to costly turnovers, and that has been the casein the last two Spartans losses. Michigan State is averaging 17.3 turnoversper contest, and the team’s opponents are converting them into points.

Through four games, opponents have scored 77 points off turnovers, anaverage of 19.25 points per contest. This was an especially large problemagainst Oklahoma (26 pts.) and Syracuse (32 pts).

Sophomore point guard Marcus Taylor, averaging just 11.8 points and 5.2assists a game over the first four contests, has not provided the offenseexpected, and is shooting just 35.2 percent from the field – including 27.3percent on 3-pointers.

The frontcourt is the team’s strength, with the threesome of Adam Ballinger(10.5 points, 7.8 rebounds), Adam Wolfe (11.2 points, 5.0 rebounds) andAloysius Anagonye (9.2 points, 7.0 rebounds.)

While the team will be hard-pressed to repeat the 17.5 rebounding margin ofa year ago, the Spartans still are imposing on the boards, outperformingopponents by 8.2 rebounds a contest.

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