It was like night and day, comparing the Virginia squad that came out in Maui on Monday night with the one that showed up on Tuesday against Oklahoma. Just fourteen hours after giving up 106 points to Washington, the Cavaliers displayed a veteran personality in its 74-56 victory over the Sooners. Senior forward and captain Mike Scott had his 20th career double-double and a career-high 27 points.
The 18-point win was the Cavaliers’ largest margin of victory away from home since an 84-57 win (+27 pts) over Albany in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament in Columbus, Ohio.
"I didn't know how we would respond after getting handled last night and with a quick turnaround," head coach Tony Bennett said following the game. "I just challenged the guys. I said I know there's character on this team. Forget about winning or losing, let's try to get back to what we do."
Virginia shot 48.1% from the field and just 38.9% from beyond the arc. The more experienced players led the team in the statistical categories; Scott led the team with 27 points, followed by Will Sherrill with 11 and Mustapha Farrakhan with 10. Scott also led the team with 15 rebounds, followed by Sherrill and Jontel Evans with 5 each.
"We certainly got sped up against Washington," Bennett said. "We were very impatient offensively and we shot quickly, didn't get back, and didn't make them work. We tried to establish that. A different opponent, I understand that, but I was proud of the way the guys responded today, especially Mike. I thought there was a level of composure when they made a run in the game and cut it to eight in the second half. We responded and I like that the guys showed heart. We made it harder for them to score and Mike was certainly a mismatch inside. He did a great job passing out of the post when they collapsed on him."
Virginia will face Wichita in the third and final game at Maui.
"I know they're a veteran team, they're big, they shoot it well and they're complete. They'll be a great challenge. I think with an experienced team like that, similar to Washington in completeness, it'll be another test for us not to get sped up. I thought we showed patience today that helped us get more touches to Mike inside. I saw how physical they were so it will be a great experience for our young guys and for Mike. We'll have to be ready. I feel like we've got a long time to prepare now that we have 24 hours as opposed to 12. Hopefully that will help us."
Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised by ESPNU.