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Virginia tries to 'return the favor' to Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech is Virginia's biggest rival, the Hokies already beat the Cavaliers in overtime at John Paul Jones Arena and Virginia Tech is planning a "blackout" with its fans. But that's not the primary motivation on Saturday.

"If there's not enough motivation to play well in an ACC game against your rival, then I really got to wonder what's going on," Coach Tony Bennett told reporters. "I think our guys are plenty motivated. Our staff is. We know how important this stretch is, so we want to play our best. So if they're wearing black T-shirts, I don't know if that motivates us more."

Still, Bennett said it would be nice to try to "return the favor" from the last game.
Bennett said the team needs to play "above and beyond the circumstances." He's seen John Paul Jones Arena lift his team, and knows the opposing crowd can do the same for the opponents. But Bennett also said most of Virginia's players have played at Virginia Tech -- even if Bennett's never coached there -- and knows what to expect.

Bennett sounded more concerned about what the Hokies do on the court than about the rivalry, which is usually reserved more from the fans. However, Bennett understands what these games mean to those fans, and understands that's a factor in the intensity of the game.

"You don't want to let your fans down, but we got to be what we're about," Bennett said. "That's trying to play good basketball. I wish I had a secret formula. With the in-state rivalry, I've been on those games as a player, as a coach. But you got to look at the big picture. We've got to come ready. It always tastes a little sweeter if you can beat a rival."

By Zach Berman  |  February 12, 2010; 3:15 PM ET
 
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