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Jan 23, 2003

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) – It’s still just the start, but now even Majestic Mapp is beginning to feel that there’s reason to celebrate.

Virginia’s junior point guard played 17 minutes Thursday night, running the team like he’d never been away and sparking runs each time he entered the lineup as the Cavaliers beat No. 17 Wake Forest 85-75.

Two weeks ago, when he received thunderous applause before his first appearance since the 1999-2000 season, Mapp said he was appreciative of the crowd support, but more interested in starting to play well again.

He sees the floor, he knows when to shoot, he knows when to pass and he knows when to set up the plays.

“I’m not out there trying to do too much,” Mapp said after his third appearance of the season following a 1,032-day absence and four knee surgeries. “I’m just trying to let the game come back to me slowly.”

Mapp scored three points and had four assists, a steal and a turnover, but drew huge ovations every time he came into the game, and huge plaudits from teammates for helping to steady the reeling Cavaliers on the court.

“Majestic is just an intangible point guard,” said Nick Vander Laan, who contributed seven points, seven rebounds and several diving hustle plays that also fired up the crowd. “He sees the floor, he knows when to shoot, he knows when to pass and he knows when to set up the plays.”

Mapp had only one turnover, and when he wasn’t in the game in the second half, he spent most of his time standing in front of his seat.

“I was just trying to keep my legs moving,” he said.

The victory snapped Virginia’s three-game losing streak, erased the memory of an embarrassing 18-point loss at Virginia Tech on Tuesday night and made the Cavaliers (11-6, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) 8-0 at home.

It also eased a developing feeling of doom for the Cavaliers.

“We were desperate for a victory,” coach Pete Gillen said. “I had people telling me which bridge to jump off. They were going to drive me.”

Todd Billet led Virginia with 23 points, Clark scored 10 and Travis Watson had 11 points, 13 rebounds and five assists and two steals.

“How many times do you see a power forward do that,” Gillen asked.

Wake Forest (12-2, 2-2) got 20 points from Josh Howard and career highs of 20 points from Vytas Danelius and 19 from Taron Downey, but had no answer once Mapp got going and brought the crowd and team with him.

“We knew they’d be a wounded animal,” Demon Deacons coach Skip Prosser said. “We’re still learning how to play in (hostile) situations.”

Mapp had played just eight minutes in two previous appearances this season, but played the last 6:43 of the first half and the first 4:32 of the second half, helping Virginia use a 28-13 run to lead 51-44.

When Mapp went to the bench, Smith and Vander Laan took over. Smith scored eight points in a span of three minutes and Vander Laan dove for loose balls, grabbed tough rebounds and scored two second-half layups.

“Nick was great,” Gillen said. “He did the dirty work.”

After Mapp went out with 15:28 to play, the Demon Deacons got within 55-50 before Smith hit two 3-pointers and Elton Brown added two baskets to make it 65-56. Wake Forest never got closer than six points again.

Wake Forest got just 10 points from its bench and shot 17 3-pointers. It made just one of nine in the second half, many on poor shot selection.

“Ours is a team that doesn’t have a large margin for error,” Prosser said. “Tonight we just made too many errors.”

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