Monday, January 2, 2012

Virginia visits Duke, VTech travels to Clemson in ACC openers

Monday's games:

Coppin State (4-9) at Longwood (2-13), 1 p.m.
Road-weary Lancers will be playing at Willett Hall for the first time in nearly a month (Dec. 3). Hope they recognize the place. But we also hope they don't get too comfortable, as they'll be at San Diego State on Wednesday. Still, this is the gym where they've gone 2-1 this season, and if they aren't too worn out from their extensive travels of late, we like their chances of making that 3-1. Longwood 57, Coppin State 52

Virginia Tech (4-9) at Clemson (4-7), 7 p.m.
The Hokies picked up one of their two ACC victories at Clemson last year. In fact, they've won in their last two trips to Littlejohn Coliseum and have taken the last three meetings in this series overall. That doesn't guarantee anything today, of course, but if the Hokies can hold their own on the boards and exhibit the level of intensity they displayed last week against UMBC, they'll give themselves a good shot. Virginia Tech 58, Clemson 55

George Mason (7-4) at Norfolk State (5-7), 6 p.m.
Spartans have dropped five straight but put on an encouraging second-half effort in a 10-point loss to St. Bonaventure their last time out. The Patriots got lit up by a hot-shooting Ohio team on the road last week and will be looking to regain the defensive form that has become their trademark. George Mason 71, Norfolk State 55

Virginia (12-2) at No. 7 Duke (9-2), 7 p.m.
Super-tough assignment for the Cavaliers at a place where Virginia teams have lost 10 straight in the series and against a team that has beaten Virginia 18 straight times overall. No update on the status of Virginia guard China Crosby, who sat out last week's Cavalier Classic with a knee injury. Her absence could be particularly problematic against a Blue Devils team that ranks third in the nation in steals (16.0 spg). The key will be which team's outstanding defense can dictate the terms of play. Game marks the return of Cavaliers coach Joanne Boyle, who played for, graduated from and was a assistant coach at Duke. Cool side note: Duke's Haley Peters and Virginia's Lexie Gerson were high school teammates at The Peddie School (N.J.), and they each scored their 1,000th point in the same quarter of the same game (thanks, Peters also teamed with Gerson and Virginia forward Chelsea Shine on the Philly Belles AAU team. Duke 65, Virginia 54

East Carolina (6-6) at Hampton (9-3), 7 p.m.
The Lady Pirates will be playing at home for just the fourth time this season. They've gone 3-0 at the Convocation Center, while ECU is 1-5 in road/neutral site games. Big edge to the Lady Pirates in what will be their final tuneup before MEAC play commences Saturday with a game against the team that looms as their top contender for conference supremacy, Howard. Hampton 75, ECU 53

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