- The Washington Times - Monday, November 13, 2006

CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Virginia basketball team moved across the street, out of the dark ages of University Hall and into the modern age of sparkling, $129 million John Paul Jones Arena last night. The Cavaliers showed they also may be ready for a similar upgrade on the court.

Virginia stunned 10th-ranked Arizona 93-90 last night after erasing a 19-point first-half deficit to cap off the celebration of the first game played at the state-of-the-art complex. A sellout crowd of 15,219 — nearly twice the size of a packed house at University Hall — watched as the Cavaliers burst onto the floor though artificial smoke while the band played. Donors watched from 20 luxury suites complete with large-screen, high-definition televisions.

The double-decker arena was christened with fireworks, a laser show and the Cavaliers’ mascot repelling from the rafters. Michael Buffer of “Let’s get ready to rumm-bull” fame introduced the Virginia players before kicking off the game with his signature phrase.

And the game lived up to the hype.

The Cavaliers made a major statement that they could be ready to contend for the NCAA tournament after a five-season absence. Mamadi Diane and Sean Singletary each scored 25 points for Virginia, and Jason Cain contributed a double-double (13 points, 12 rebounds).

Diane, a sophomore swingman from DeMatha High School, registered his career high by making five of six 3-pointers and eight of nine shots overall. Singletary led the comeback; the junior point guard had six assists and made 13 of 14 free throws.

Second-year Virginia coach Dave Leitao told his team at halftime to penetrate inside, and the aggressive play led his team back.

“[Arizona’s players] are great scorers, but they don’t want to defend,” said Singletary, whose team scored 57 points and shot 59.3 percent after intermission.

Said Leitao: “I didn’t anticipate a 93-90 [score], but I will take it. On a night like this, I couldn’t be prouder to be the coach of this basketball program.”


No. 4 Pittsburgh 86, Western Michigan 67

WEST POINT, N.Y. — Aaron Gray had 10 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Panthers past the Broncos in the inaugural Maggie Dixon Classic.

Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon, the older brother of Maggie, helped create the doubleheader in her honor following her death at age 28 in April. Just three weeks after leading Army to its first NCAA tournament appearance as a first-year coach, Dixon died of arrhythmia, probably caused by an enlarged heart.

No. 9 Wisconsin 72, Mercer 48

MADISON, Wis. — Kammron Taylor scored 22 points and Alando Tucker added 21 to help the Badgers beat the Bears in the season opener for both teams.

No. 12 Duke 86, Columbia 43

DURHAM, N.C. — Freshman Brian Zoubek scored 18 points to lead a balanced effort for the Blue Devils in the first round of the CBE Classic.

No. 20 Syracuse 83, UTEP 69

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Eric Devendorf had 19 points and a career-high seven rebounds, and Matt Gorman had 12 points for the second straight game for the Orange.


No. 2 North Carolina 83, Winston-Salem State 32

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Sophomore Rashanda McCants scored 16 points to lead five Tar Heels players in double figures.

Freshman Jessica Breland came off the bench for a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Camille Little had 11 points and 12 rebounds for her 11th double-double.

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