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Michigan Wolverines (5-3) at Virginia Cavaliers (3-4)

Date and Time Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 7 p.m. Location Charlottesville, Va. | John Paul Jones Arena
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Dec. 4, 2013

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia (3-4) hosts Michigan (5-3) in a Big Ten/ACC Women’s Basketball Challenge game on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. in John Paul Jones Arena.

The game will be broadcast live on WINA- 1070 AM with Channing Poole, Larry Johnson and Myron Ripley calling the action.

This year’s Big Ten/ACC Women’s Basketball Challenge will mark the seventh year of an event that has been extended to 2016. All 12 Big Ten teams and 12 of the 15 ACC teams will participate in the 2013 Challenge.

The Cavaliers have a 5-1 record all-time in the Challenge, including Virginia’s 90-68 victory at Minnesota last season. Virginia has also defeated Wisconsin (2007), Illinois (2008), Purdue (2009) and Indiana (2011). UVa’s lone loss in the event was at Ohio State in 2010.

The Wolverines are 4-2 all-time in Challenge games. Michigan has faced top-10 opponents in No. 6 Maryland (2011) and No. 4 Duke (2012) the last two seasons in the series.

A year ago, ACC teams combined for a 7-5 mark against its Big Ten counterparts to win its fifth Challenge Title. The ACC owns a 41-27 edge over the Big Ten in the Challenge. The two leagues each earned six wins in 2011 to mark the only tie in Challenge history. Overall, since the 2000 season, the two conferences have squared off in head-to-head competition on 152 occasions with the ACC holding an 82-70 advantage.

This is the first meeting between the Cavaliers and the Wolverines since Virginia logged a 78-64 victory on Dec. 28, 2002 at the Florida’s State Farm Classic Tournament in Gainesville, Fla. Virginia holds a 2-1 edge in the series and is 1-0 in Charlottesville.

Virginia has lost its last three games and is looking to snap the streak prior to going into the break for finals. After the Michigan game, the Cavaliers will not play again until Tuesday, Dec. 17 when they host Maryland Eastern Shore.

The Cavaliers are 1-4 in games away from JPJ this season and 2-0 on the home court. UVa is shooting 42.1 percent at home but makes just 32.1 percent of their shots while on the road or playing at neutral sites.

After falling to West Virginia on the road, the Cavaliers dropped a pair of neutral site games at the Junkanoo Jam Tournament on Grand Bahama Island. Despite leading by 10 points in the first half, the Cavaliers ultimately fell 76-67 to the No. 3 Lady Vols. It was the second time this season that Tennessee came back from a double-digit deficit to win after overcoming a 12-point hole during the season-opener at Middle Tennessee. The Cavaliers were the first team this season to keep UT’s margin of victory to single digits.

Senior guard Ataira Franklin scored 25 points against Tennessee, including putting up 19 before half time. The 25 points was the highest single-game total by a UVa player so far this season. It was Franklin’s second-straight 20-point performance.

After averaging 4.0 points per game in her first two games, Ataira Franklin has averaged 15.6 ppg in the last five contests. The preseason All-ACC selection averaged 14.3 ppg last season. Franklin now leads the team in scoring, averaging 12.3 ppg. She is second on the team in assists (18), steals (13) and rebounding (4.4).

Franklin did not make a field goal in the Kansas State game, the first time that happened since nine games into her freshman campaign. She had made at least one basket in 98 straight games before going 0-for-7. She did make two free throws early in the second half to keep from going scoreless, something she has only down twice, both in her freshman season.

Franklin comes into the Michigan game 19 points shy of tying her former teammate Ariana Moorer (2008-12) for 19th on the career points list. Franklin has 1,278 points.

In Virginia’s 49-46 loss to K-State, junior center Sarah Imovbioh posted her fourth double-double of the season, netting 20 points with 15 rebounds. Imovbioh provided almost all of the Cavaliers’ offense in the first half, making five of Virginia’s first six baskets and scoring 12 of UVa’s 18 points. Imovbioh played 37 minutes against K-State, a career-high in a game that did not go into overtime.

Imovbioh has thrived in the tropical Thanksgiving tournaments in her two seasons with UVa. This year, she scored 25 points with 20 rebounds in the two games in the Bahamas, shooting 52.3 percent. Last season in Puerto Rico, she scored 35 points with 13 rebounds, shooting 80.0 from the field.

Senior guard Kelsey Wolfe was the Cavaliers’ most-consistent player in the Bahamas, earning all-tournament honors after scoring 12 points against Tennessee and 18 against Kansas State, her first two double-digit scoring games of the year. Wolfe also had 10 assists, seven rebounds and three steals in the two games.

Wolfe is ranked in the top-10 in the conference in two statistical categories, ranking tenth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.73) and eighth in free throw efficiency (78.3 percent). Wolfe is just outside the top-10 in assists per game, ranking 13th at 3.7.

Virginia statistically had its second-best free throw shooting game of the season against K-State, shooting 80.0 percent (16-of-20), but the Cavaliers had made 15-of-16 going into the final minute of the game when they missed three of four attempts down the stretch to lose by three, 49-46.

Virginia went 0-for-10 from long range against Kansas State, the first time since UVa went 0-for-9 against Miami on Jan. 19, 2012, that the Cavaliers did not make a single three-pointer. Two games prior against West Virginia, the Cavaliers made 10 three-pointers on 22 attempts (45.5 percent) with Franklin making a career-best six treys on eight attempts.

The Cavaliers have been outrebounded in five of their seven games this season. Virginia’s lone dominant performance came against High Point when the Cavaliers outrebounded the Panthers by 27. Despite the Lady Vols’ size advantage with six of their 10 players 6-2 or taller, Virginia trailed Tennessee by only a single rebound, losing the battle of the boards 36-35.

Virginia has turned the ball over fewer times than its opponent in four of the last five games, including UVa committing a season-low 13 turnovers in the Kansas State game.

The Cavaliers stood their ground and took four charges against Tennessee and three against Kansas State. Freshman forward Sydney Umeri earned took two of the charges against Kansas State with both offensive fouls coming in the first half of that game.

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