The Cavaliers avoided an upset in their first game atop the rankings in 35 years, holding Miami's starters to 28 percent shooting to win 59-50.
Virginia climbed atop the poll this week for the first time since a memorable upset loss to Chaminade in 1982.
"It's in the past for a reason," guard Kyle Guy said. "That Virginia team was great, but this is a different team and a new era."
The Cavaliers (24-2, 13-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) bounced back from an overtime home loss Saturday to Virginia Tech that ended a 15-game winning streak.
"There's no way we wanted to lose two in a row," said De'Andre Hunter, who led Virginia with 22 points, including a four-point play.
Defense was the difference for the Cavaliers, who limited an opponent to 50 points or less for the 12th time.
"We're not a knockout-punch team," coach Tony Bennett said. "We're just going to have to chip away, and hopefully it takes its toll over the course of the game."
The Hurricanes (18-7, 7-6) lost their second in a row, and lost at home for only the second time. Miami shot 38 percent, including 6 for 21 from 3-point range, and never led.
Virginia mixed man-to-man and zone, and the Hurricanes had trouble making a shot against either defense, often settling for attempts from long range.
"We did a good job of making them earn," Bennett said. "They didn't get a lot of clean looks."
The Hurricanes threw up four airballs, and another shot clanked off the underside of the rim. Virginia shut down the Hurricanes' transition game, and they managed only four fast-break points.
Guy scored 13 points for the Cavaliers, who shot 46 percent. Ty Jerome had seven assists - one more than the Hurricanes.
Miami center Dewan Huell, the team's leading scorer this season, took only one shot and was shut out. Explosive freshman Lonnie Walker IV was held to six points.
Chris Lykes led Miami with 19 points, but even he found the Cavaliers' defense daunting.
"They're real disciplined," he said. "They help each other well. Help defense is a big part of their team."
Miami missed 10 consecutive shots during a 13-0 run by the Cavaliers that put them ahead 26-12. Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga said his team was too eager early playing against the No. 1 team, and squandered scoring chances.
"I'm not talking about difficult plays," Larranaga said. "I'm talking about plays that were right there for the taking. They weren't things Virginia did to make us miss those shots. We missed them out of anxiousness."
At halftime, Miami was shooting 21 percent and trailing 27-16.
An 8-0 run by the Hurricanes cut their deficit to 29-26, but they got no closer. An 11-2 spurt by the Cavaliers put them ahead 49-36, and Hunter's four-point play with three minutes left sealed the win.
Hunter said the Cavaliers rose to the occasion.
"We know we're going to have a bigger target on our back now that we're No. 1," he said.
Coincidentally, Larranaga was an assistant for the Cavaliers when they lost to Chaminade. Bennett said his players are too young to have much awareness of that game.
"How many years is that - 35? Wow," Bennett said.
He said he congratulated his players this week on climbing to No. 1, but also encouraged them to move on.
"We just want to keep playing good ball," Bennett said.
ON THE MEND
Larranaga was back on the bench after staying in the locker room during Saturday's loss at Boston College because of an illness.
Virginia: The Cavaliers improved to 2-7 at Miami, with their only other win three years ago. They improved to 7-0 on the road in the ACC this season.
"Any time we get a win on the road, we say it's a birdie," Bennett said.
Miami: The Hurricanes shot under 40 percent for the seventh time.
Virginia: The Cavaliers have seven days off before facing Georgia Tech at home on Feb. 21.
Miami: Plays host to Syracuse on Saturday.
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