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Dec. 29, 2001

AP MegaSports Writer

In the midst of a school-record 25-game non-conference winning streak, Virginia will try and extend that mark against visiting Grambling on Sunday.

With their 8-0 start this season, the fourth-ranked Cavaliers have now posted back-to-back 8-0 starts for the first time since the 1982-83 and ’83-84 seasons. In 1982-83, Virginia’s streak was halted at eight games, but the next season it went undefeated in its first 10.

The Cavaliers also won their first 10 games of the 2000-01 season.

The only time Virginia has had back-to-back starts of at least nine straight wins were in the 1980-81 (12-0) and ’81-82 (23-0) seasons.

Virginia is coming off a come-from-behind 76-68 victory over Rutgers on Dec. 23. J.C. Mathis scored a career-high 16 points, including two key late baskets, and Travis Watson added 18 as the Cavaliers rallied from a nine-point deficit in the second half.

“(Mathis) never gets the ball, so he doesn’t get a lot of shots,” Virginia coach Pete Gillen said. “Today, he got the ball and he did a lot of good things with it.”

Mathis said his good fortune stems from being the forgotten man in the opposition’s defensive game plan.

“I was lucky because a lot of teams key on Roger (Mason) and Chris (Williams),” Mathis said. “We talk a lot about that kind of situation.”

Virginia has also been riding the strong play of freshman Elton Brown, who earned ACC rookie of the week honors. Brown, who is shooting 55.3 percent (26-for-47) from the field, is averaging 8.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.

Grambling (3-7) is coming off a 93-69 loss to Arkansas Little-Rock on Dec. 21. Paul Haynes had 29 points and eight rebounds, while Ron Ellis added 21 points.

Sunday’s meeting is the first between the two schools.

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