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Virginia improves to 2-0 with dominating 65-34 win over James Madison

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Diakite notches first career double-double in the win.

NCAA Basketball: James Madison at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Cavaliers improved to 2-0 on the season with a 65-34 drubbing of in-commonwealth foe James Madison on Sunday evening. Mamadi Diakite’s first career double-double led the way as the redshirt senior made a statement with a career high 19 points and 13 rebounds. Braxton Key added a double-double of his own with 14 points and 10 rebounds, giving the Hoos two players with double-doubles in each of their first two games this season.

Much like it was against Syracuse, the Cavaliers struggled from the field, shooting 38% for the game. Beyond the arc, the Hoos made just 4-of-24, 17%, but they were getting good looks off of good ball movement.

Defensively, the Hoos were stifling yet again. JMU shot just 24% from the floor and had scored nine points in the second half at the 3:52 mark as Tony Bennett emptied the bench for the Cavaliers. They would manage just 11 total points in the second half, giving both of Virginia’s opponents 34 total points against the Pack Line.

It was a tough outing for first year Casey Morsell (0-for-9), but his movement offensively and shot selection was sound. He did contribute three rebounds and an assist in the win. Classmate Justin McKoy finished with four points, the first of his career.

Diakite opened the scoring for Virginia on their second possession with a three from just right of dead center. JMU tied things up at three after the Hoos missed several good looks. The tie didn’t last long as Diakite drove the lane for a sure-handed dunk to make it 5-3 before Key grabbed an offensive board and a put-back for a four-point lead with just under 16 minutes to play in the first half.

The Hoos jumped out to an 11-3 lead thanks to a free throw from Diakite and a three-pointer from Key — after some fantastic ball movement — but a bad turnover from Clark near mid-court gave JMU and easy bucket. The Dukes cut the deficit in half with a three from Darius Banks, making it 11-8 with 12:26 remaining.

A free throw from Jay Huff made the lead 12-8, but Matt Lewis’s second three of the game cut the lead to one. Virginia continued to struggle with its shooting, making just four of their first 16 attempts. JMU tied things again at 12 with a trip to the free throw line, but Diakite once again put the Hoos in front.

JMU took its first lead of the game on their fourth three of the game, but the Virginia defense caused a turnover that led to a Stattmann breakaway dunk for a 16-15 lead. The two teams traded buckets before Stattmann connected again at the rim to put the home team up by three.

Virginia continued to have difficulty seeing the ball go through the hoop, despite solid ball movement and shot selection. A Diakite turn-around and Clark three from the top of the key gave Virginia a 25-20 lead with 3:19 to play, but the Hoos still had just a 34% mark from the field. Back-to-back bounce passes for Diakite dunks led to a nine-point lead for the home team, and the Virginia defense continued to stifle the Dukes.

Huff corralled an offensive rebound for a put-back, then swatted a shot out of bounds on the next trip down the court. JMU would get one more three to fall before the break, cutting Virginia’s lead to 31-23 at the half.

JMU coughed the ball up 12 times in the first half, leading to 12 of Virginia’s points. They shot just 32% from the field, but did get 15 points off of five made threes. Lewis led the Dukes with 11 first half points, connecting on 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.

Diakite piled in 16 points and pulled down six rebounds in the first half to lead all scorers. As a team, the Hoos shot just 37% from the field and 21% (3-for-14) from beyond the arc, although they were getting good looks. Virginia turned it over six times in the first half, but dominated with 20 points in the paint.

Key opened the scoring in the second half with a strong take to the hoop, and Stattmann got a partial block on the other end to get the Hoos the ball right back. Clark corralled a miss from Stattmann beyond the arc and found Key for a rhythm three that put the Hoos up 36-23. Key added two free throws to push the lead to 15 points before the Dukes’ sixth three of the night cut it back to 12 with 17:54 to play.

Three straight free throws, a Diakite put-back dunk, and a Huff alley-oop pushed Virginia’s lead to 19 in the blink of an eye as JMU struggled to score. Huff added a jumper before a Key breakaway dunk, giving the reigning national champs a 49-26 lead with 12:40 remaining.

It continued to be all Cavaliers as Virginia would build a 61-32 lead at the under-4 timeout as fans started to head for the exits. Green Team guys Grant Kersey and Jayden Nixon would get an offensive put back to cap off the scoring for the Hoos.

Virginia has the week off until they host Columbia at noon on Saturday, November 16. That game is scheduled for the ACC Network.