Tuesday night, Virginia cruised to an easy victory over the visiting Tigers from Grambling State. The Hoos led 49-9 at the half, shooting over 70% from the field and 58% from three. In the second half, Coach Bennett was able to get all three of his reserve players on the court by the 9:26 mark.
“Tonight’s game, Grambling just couldn’t shoot,” Bennett said after the game. “I think our defensive system really bottled them up, and then with Kyle [Guy] getting going with his shot...it got away from them.”
Offensively, the Hoos clicked with all 13 players who saw the court scoring points and shooting 55% from the field (41.2% from three). This was the first time in Bennett’s tenure at Virginia that the Hoos hit 90 points, and Virginia’s biggest margin of victory since beating Bethune-Cookman by 60 in 1994. Virginia assisted 23 of 33 made baskets and scored 18 super boring fast break points.
“I don’t think you can really prepare for a team that passes the way they do.” Grambling State Head Coach Shawn Walker remarked. “I think that’s wonderful. I think Virginia’s ability to pass the ball - passing is a unique skill - when you can move the ball...it’s almost like they come down the floor saying ‘we’re going to pass the ball 12 times this time then get a good shot’. That’s exactly what happens.”
Most impressive, however, was the performance of first year Kyle Guy. In just 13 minutes, he scored 20 points on 6-for-7 shooting (5-for-6 from three, 3-for-3 from the line), with three assists, two rebounds, and a steal. IN JUST THIRTEEN MINUTES.
“It feels really good right now being out there. I’ve been trying to be really poised and focused and make sure I’m mentally prepared for each game.” Guy said. “I expect to go through my ups and downs, but I’m trying to stay even keel through it all.”
With his performance, Guy became the first first year to score 20 points in a game since Justin Anderson dropped 24 on Iowa in the 2013 NIT.
Marial Shayok and Darius Thompson both contributed 12 points each, and Mamadi Diakite had eight points and three blocks.
Defensively, the Hoos were impenetrable for most of the night. Grambling State got just 17 points from their starters, shot 23.1% from the field, and turned the ball over 21 times. Much like their first three games, Virginia held their opponents scoreless for huge chunks of time. For 9:46 spanning the two halves, the Tigers were unable to find the bottom of the basket, and again for just shy of seven minutes in the second half.
Oh, and then there’s this:
Grambling St's 0.48 PPP vs Virginia are the fewest by any DI team this season. Previous low? 0.52 PPP by St. Francis-NY... against Virginia.— Jeff (BPredict) (@BPredict) November 23, 2016
Through their first four games, Virginia is holding opponents to an average of 38.8 points per game. The scary thing? That number could have been lower. With over 12 minutes remaining in the game, Bennett brought in his first member of the Green Machine, Justice Bartley. By the 9:26 mark, both Trevon Gross and fourth year Jeff Jones were in the game. All three hit three pointers, with Bartley slamming home a dunk as well. The trio was definitely not gun shy, combining to go 4-for-16 from the field
“It was really good to see Jeff [Jones] and Tre [Trevon Gross] and Justice [Bartley], those guys who work so hard in practice to prepare our guys to get that many minutes - and that many shots,” Bennett said with a laugh. “I was really thankful for that.”
Next up, Virginia has to focus on their first matchup with a Power Five school: Iowa. The Hoos will face the Hawkeyes in Destin, Florida, as part of the Emerald Coast Classic.
“We try not to look ahead at our schedule,” Thompson stated. “Coach always tells us it is us against the game of basketball, play every game as you would and don’t look at opponents as being better or worse than others. Just go in and play hard and play like we know we can.”
Virginia and Iowa tip-off Friday at 7pm on CBS Sports Network.
Odds and Ends
- First year Ty Jerome had his best game of the season with six points (2-for-5 from three) and five assists and a steal (and two turnovers).
- Jarred Reuter finished with a career-high seven rebounds.
- Virginia has held opponents scoreless for six minutes or more five times in four games this season.