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CHARLOTTESVILLE—The Virginia men’s basketball team plays its final non-conference road game of the 2009-10 regular season on Monday (Dec. 7) when the Cavaliers travel to Auburn. It marks the first time UVa has played a men’s basketball game at Auburn.

The game is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Eastern time and will be televised by Comcast SportsNet Plus and Comcast Sports Southeast.

Virginia enters the game with an overall record of 4-3 after a 69-66 loss to Penn State at John Paul Jones Arena last Monday (Nov. 30). Auburn is 4-4 on the season after an 81-77 home loss to Troy on Friday (Dec. 4).

UVa led Penn State by 10 points late in the first half and by six points at halftime, but the Nittany Lions outscored the Cavaliers 23-7 in the first 7:42 of the second half to take a 44-34 lead with 12:18 left to play. Virginia still trailed by 10 points (60-50) with 1:44 remaining in the game before rallying to within one point (67-66) with five seconds left. Two free throws by Talor Battle, who tied the JPJA record for points by an opposing player with 32, gave the Nittany Lions a three-point lead and the Cavaliers’ Sammy Zeglinski missed a three-point attempt at the buzzer.

“I felt like the first half defensively we played the way we needed to and got good looks, but that four minute stretch in the second half, it was 14 or 15 points that they scored – that’s where we really hurt ourselves,” Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said after the loss to Penn State. “I thought we were such a good team defensive unit in the first half and then that stretch to start the second half, they got to the rim, they got transition baskets, they did the things that we worked on every day in practice that are going to get you and make you lose. I think we got a little more individual oriented defensively to start the second half and that hurt us. Our strength has to be it’s us against the ball.”

Zeglinski, a sophomore guard, scored all 16 of his points, including four three-point field goals, in the last 4:37 of the game to lead the Virginia rally. One of his three-point field goals got the Cavaliers within one point of the Nittany Lions with five seconds to play. Sophomore guard Sylven Landesberg led UVa in scoring with 18 points and junior forward Mike Scott had 17 points and 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. Scott now has 13 double-doubles in his career.

“What I told the guys after is that it was a gut-wrenching loss but they fought, they scrapped, they didn’t quit,” Bennett said. “You have to keep building and when you see something like that, you have to say that’s a step forward in that area instead of just letting it slide. I tried to encourage them with that and then I said we will watch the film and address the areas that were breakdowns.”

Landesberg leads Virginia in scoring (16.4 ppg.), assists (19, 2.7 apg.) and minutes played (31.6 mpg.), and is second on the team in rebounds (4.7 rpg.). Scott is averaging 13.1 points a game and leads the team in rebounding with an average of 9.3 rebounds per game. He is shooting 57.4 percent (39-68) from the field.

Zeglinski is averaging 9.9 points a game and is second on the team in assists (18, 2.6 apg.), while junior guard Mustapha Farrakhan is averaging 8.6 points per game and has 17 assists (2.4 apg.).

The Virginia-Auburn men’s basketball series is tied 3-3. The Tigers won 58-56 in Charlottesville last season.

UVa has not played a game at a Southeastern Conference school since losing at Vanderbilt 70-65 on Dec. 6, 1994.

Senior guard DeWayne Reed leads Auburn in scoring and assists with averages of 15.4 points and 4.1 assists a game. Other top scorers for the Tigers are sophomore guard Frankie Sullivan (14.1 ppg.) and senior forward Lucas Hargrove (13.4 ppg.). Hargrove leads the team in rebounds with an average of 7.9 rebounds a game and he is shooting 50.0 percent (42-84) from the field.

Jeff Lebo is in his sixth season as head coach at Auburn and his 12th season as a collegiate head coach. His Auburn teams have compiled an overall record of 85-80. The Tigers were 24-12 last season and reached the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament. Lebo was also the head coach at Tennessee Tech for four years and at Tennessee-Chattanooga for two years before becoming head coach at Auburn. His overall record as a collegiate head coach is 200-143.

After playing at Auburn the Cavaliers break for exams and don’t play again until they host UNC Wilmington on Dec. 19 at John Paul Jones Arena. That game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

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