The No. 5 Virginia Cavaliers got the season off to a good start with a 73-42 win over the Towson Tigers. Ty Jerome was electric for the Hoos with 20 points on 6-for-9 shooting from three, tying his new career high in threes made.
De’Andre Hunter got the second double-double of his career with 13 points and 10 rebounds, showing his versatility offensively. First year Kihei Clark played 25 minutes, adding four points and a team-high six assists (with one turnover). Jay Huff finished with eight points, all in the final 7:15 of the game. As a team, the Cavaliers shot 48% from the field for the game and 38% from three for the game.
Defensively, the Hoos were outstanding, holding Towson to 32% shooting, 14 turnovers, and no assists. Virginia held the Tigers to no field goals for over 10 minutes down the stretch. Tobias Howard led the Tigers with 10 points in the game. Jerome had two steals to lead the team, and the Hoos had six steals overall.
Virginia’s offense struggled to make some open looks—especially early—but the Cavaliers showed a lot of different movement and lineups that showcased the athleticism of players like Hunter. Coach Bennett experimented with lineups, often times going small with Clark, Jerome, Guy, Key, and Hunter all on the court at the same time. The Hoos showed good ball control and movement, only turning it over five times and notching 19 assists on 26 made baskets.
Things got off to a bit of a rocky start as Towson buried a deep three with seven seconds left on the shot clock to take a 3-0 lead. Guy made it 3-1 by making the second of two free throws, but it was Jack Salt who had the honor of making the first Virginia basket of the season.
Hunter gave the Hoos a lead at 5-3 with a layup, but the Tigers evened things up. After corralling his own rebound three times, but outworked the Towson defenders and got a shot to fall to regain the narrow lead.
Virginia opened the game 0-for-6 from three, and made three of their first 10 shots from the field. Kihei Clark put UVA up 9-6 with a floater in the lane. Towson narrowed it back to 9-8 on a second chance bucket, and the Tigers re-took the lead at 10-9 following the same blueprint. Jerome broke the lid on the three pointer, hitting the first of the season with 9:58 left in the first half. Key hit one of his own on the next possession, giving the Hoos a 15-11 lead.
The Hoos were getting good looks, just not converting. Hunter extended the lead to 17-12 with a monster dunk, but the defensive possession that preceded it was textbook by Jerome.
Virginia went on an 14-1 run over six minutes to add some breathing room as the Tigers went cold from the field and missed eight straight shots as part of a 6:12 scoring drought.
Jerome’s third three of the first half gave the Hoos a 26-14 lead, but a lucky bounce on a three ball from the Tigers closed it back to single digits at nine. A steal by Jerome led to a lay-in from Guy—his first made bucket of the game—and the Hoos took a 28-19 lead into the half.
Ty Jerome led all scorers with 11 points in the first half on 3-for-5 shooting (all three pointers) and a 2-for-2 mark from the free throw line. De’Andre Hunter added seven points and six rebounds, and Kihei Clark led the team with three assists and no turnovers in the first half.
Virginia scored first to open the half, but Towson answered with their third three of the game to trim the Hoos’ advantage to eight. Every time the Hoos scored, Towson responded with a three pointer, slowly cutting into the deficit. Jack Salt made one of two free throws to push Virginia’s lead back to double digits at 35-25.
Jerome continued his stellar performance in the second half, hitting two threes, notching an assist, and getting a steal in a five minute span that helped the Hoos open a 14-point lead. Clark showed his quick hands, stealing the ball on an in-bounds pass under the basket and getting the easy layup, then Jerome’s sixth three of the game made it 52-33.
Jay Huff got in the box score with a nifty alley-oop from Braxton Key and followed it up with a three pointer from the top of the key as the Hoos pulled away down the stretch. The Green Machine got in on the action with just over two minutes to play, and even Austin Katstra got in on the action with a bucket and a block.
Next up, Virginia hosts George Washington on Sunday afternoon at 2pm.