From the archives: My top 10 UVa basketball games list from 2009

Over the past three weeks, I republished what I viewed in 2009 to be the top 10 UVa football games I had attended, updated the list to include games from the 2009 through 2019 seasons, and then took a look at the roster for the 2020 season, which, unfortunately, is looking more and more like it will be postponed or canceled.

But now, as I noted I would do eventually at the beginning of the football series, I am going to take a look at my basketball list. In 2009, before the start of the men's hoops season, as I did for football, I wrote a column for The Cavalier Daily recounting the top 10 UVa basketball games I had attended. Next week, I'll update the list with games from the Tony Bennett era. As you can imagine, the list will probably contain quite a few revisions.

Some of you (including myself) may even find this list from 2009 humorous. I had to do some double
Laurynas Mikalauskas (from left), Sean Singletary, Adrian Joseph,
and Jerome Meyinsse celebrate the Wahoos' 2006 victory
over No. 10 Arizona. (Jason O. Watson)
takes when I first found and read this column from deep in the recesses of my UVa email. I believe I began going to basketball games during the 1999-2000 season, so I wasn't even able to enjoy the best years of the Jeff Jones era. The successes of the Pete Gillen and Dave Leitao eras -- when this list was formed -- pale in comparison to those of the Bennett era. So just keep in mind that I wrote this in 2009, after Leitao had been fired and I barely knew who Bennett was, and a good year meant getting an NIT bid. All of these games were fun at the time, but some won't hold a candle to the most significant victories under Bennett. So you'll just need to divorce yourself from our new UVa basketball fandom reality a little bit to enjoy the thought I put into this list in 2009. That's a good problem to have, since it means UVa has grown by leaps and bounds as a program during the past decade.

OK, here's the 2009 column, which contains only minor edits and the addition of relevant video highlights. I could not nail down every game I attended and figure out my record, like I did for football. Every game took place in Charlottesville.

From early November 2009:

Right before football season began, I compiled my top 10 list of the best Virginia football games I had attended in person. Now with men’s basketball right around the corner, here’s my list for that sport. Before I start, I’d like to acknowledge the Virginia women’s game against Maryland last year, which I went to as well. The Cavaliers won 89-81 in a great contest, and that game would earn a spot in this top 10. Coach Debbie Ryan gave all she had on the same day she attended friend Kay Yowell’s funeral, and her players came through for her in beating the No. 8 Terrapins behind 30 points from Lyndra Littles, 28 points from Monica Wright, and a double-double from Aisha Mohammed.

I don’t have the same history with Virginia men’s basketball that I do with football, so the games are pretty much all from my first three years as a student here, though I did attend a few before arriving on Grounds. One of the wildest games I remember in particular from a while ago was a 115-111 triple-overtime NIT first-round home loss to Georgetown on March 15, 2000. My dad and I always talk about this annoying Hoyas fan who sat near us and would say, “That’s cash,” before almost every Georgetown shot. A lot of them went in, too. I’m pretty sure I hated him during the game, but it’s funny to think about him now.

10. Jan. 6, 2001 - No. 8 Virginia 88, N.C. State 81: One of a few games I attended during the 2000-2001 season, I chose this game for not only its standalone greatness, but also for the fact that this was a superb overall year for Virginia, which also defeated Duke 91-89 at home that year and earned a spot in the NCAA tournament. Against N.C. State, future NBA player Roger Mason Jr. led the Cavaliers with 26 points and scored 10 straight second-half points, culminating in a 3-pointer with 3:34 left that tied the game at 73. Virginia was down five at halftime and 11 in the second half but roared back and won with 53 second-half points.

9. Jan. 3, 2007 - Virginia 108, Gonzaga 87: The Cavaliers won by 21, but it wasn’t even that close. Sean Singletary posted a then-career high 37 points, and Virginia put on a 3-point shooting clinic, making a school-record 18 3-pointers to completely demolish the Adam Morrison-less Bulldogs. The score was 60-26 at halftime. Enough said.

8. Feb. 18, 2009 - Virginia 75, Virginia Tech 61: This win against Tech was especially sweet. The year before, the Hokies had defeated the Cavaliers in both meetings during overtime heartbreakers. Deron Washington’s driving layup to win at JPJ was especially gut-wrenching. The crowd was into this game after just beating top-10 ranked Clemson three days earlier. Another plus was that bone-headed Hokies forward Jeff Allen had to sit out after making an obscene gesture at Maryland fans during a game four days earlier. Allen is always a fun person to make fun of for the merciless Hoo Crew.

7. March 28, 2008 - Virginia 80, Old Dominion 76: Yes, it was a College Basketball Invitational tournament game, but the finish was spectacular nevertheless. If Singletary had a curtain call game for his terrific career, this was it. He tallied 22 points and 10 assists, but his late-game heroics were even more memorable. Singletary tied the game at 75 with a banked-in 3-pointer with 26 seconds left then stole the ball from Brandon Johnson, rushed down the court, and was fouled while making the go-ahead layup. Six points in 26 seconds. Wow.

6. March 1, 2007 - Virginia 69, Virginia Tech 56: After the season fans endured last year, this game seems long ago. Incredibly, this game was for first place in the ACC, and Virginia played like it, exacting revenge for a 27-point loss to the Hokies in Blacksburg. Unfortunately, the Cavaliers lost on the road in their next game to Wake Forest, failing to win the ACC regular-season title outright. For everything that was on the line in this game, however, a victory vaults it into the top 10.

5. March 7, 2009 - Virginia 68, Maryland 63: A regular season of frustration culminated in a rousing victory for the Cavaliers this past season. Maryland fans created a Facebook event and decided to invade the student section at JPJ, creating a very hostile atmosphere. I think they fired up the home crowd as well. Mamadi Diane — who suffered through a subpar senior season — led the 'Hoos in his swan song with 23 points, breaking a 61-all tie with a huge 3-pointer with 39 seconds left.

4. Feb. 15, 2009 - Virginia 85, No. 12 Clemson 81 (OT): On the day that Virginia honored Singletary by retiring the No. 44, the Cavaliers made the day truly special with a seemingly unexpected win against the Tigers. Sylven Landesberg scored 23 points — six in overtime — and made the game-tying layup with 13.4 seconds left in regulation. Four other Virginia players scored in double digits in a balanced attack, something it had been lacking all year. The Cavaliers overcame five 3-pointers made by Clemson’s Terrence Oglesby and snapped an eight-game losing streak with the win. And yes, I rushed the court with about 10 other people but it was still really cool.

3. March 9, 2008 - Virginia 91, Maryland 76: On senior day, Singletary’s jersey was retired, and he scored 27 points, crossing the 2,000-point barrier in the process. Once the rout was on near the end of the game, Singletary threw up an alley-oop to Diane and Jamil Tucker, who kind of combined on the dunk end of the alley-oop. It was a thing of beauty. As a bonus, the 'Hoos dealt a damaging blow to the Terrapins’ NCAA tournament hopes.

2. Feb. 1, 2007 - Virginia 68, No. 8 Duke 66 (OT): Many of my friends who I discussed this column topic with would have put this game as No. 1, but really, they are interchangeable and both were mind-blowing games. I think for this game, one only needs to say "The Shot,” and Singletary’s game-winning floater in overtime comes to mind. The image of Singletary being able to get the ball over the outstretched arm of DeMarcus Nelson while almost parallel to the floor is emblazoned in my mind forever. Add to that the fact that the win came during a great season and it was against powerhouse Duke simply puts this game over-the-top.

1. Nov. 12, 2006 - Virginia 93, No. 10 Arizona 90: Several factors make this game No. 1 — first game in shiny, new JPJ and all the festivities that went along with that; big-time opponent; my first game as a student; 19-point comeback; high-scoring affair — this one had it all. Singletary even made a dunk right in the midst of Virginia’s big second-half comeback. I’m sure all of my fellow fourth-years hold this as a cherished memory of their college careers. OK, maybe we didn’t rush the court, but no one really knew the protocol then in the new massive arena or what would happen if anyone tried. Still, this game, the atmosphere, everything came together that night to create truly special memories.

That’s my list. Feel free to send me emails at or comment below with experiences of games you've been able to attend. Hopefully we can add a game or two to this list with the beginning of the Tony Bennett era here at Virginia.

Narrator, 2020: And add to the list, he did.