We had to wait 258 days to see the Virginia Men’s Basketball team in action, but it was well worth it as the Cavaliers opened the 2020-21 season in style. Virginia took down the Towson Tigers, 89-54, in its first game in “Bubbleville” at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT. It was an up-and-down ride even getting to the first game as their original opponent, Maine, had to drop out due to issues with the coronavirus.
This was the first game as a Cavalier for Sam Hauser — a transfer from Marquette — and the big man delivered to the tune of 19 points, eight rebounds, and going 3-for-3 beyond the arc. Not to be outdone, Rice transfer Trey Murphy absolutely lit up the score sheet with 21 points and hitting 6-of-8 from beyond the arc.
Virginia’s offense already looks so much better than the one that struggled to score last season. As a team, Virginia made 15 three-pointers, the most since Kyle Guy & Co. unloaded 18 on Syracuse in March of 2019. The 89 points scored is more than any game last season (78 vs. Boston College was the high).
Kihei Clark, Casey Morsell, Justin McKoy, Hauser, and Jay Huff got the start for the Cavaliers. All five contributed points in the win, with Clark adding seven points. Three players — Clark, McKoy, and Hauser — dished three assists in the game as the Hoos assisted 17 of 35 made baskets.
The season opened with a three pointer from Huff — who finished with 14 points — and Hauser added the first of his Virginia career as the Hoos built an early lead against the outmatched Tigers and never looked back. Virginia shot 56% from the field and 52% from three in the game, while holding Towson to 37% from the field. The Tigers did shoot 44% from three, including Nicolas Timberlake going 5-for-7 from downtown.
Towson’s Zane Martin didn’t score his first basket until the 18:43 mark in the second half, a testament to Virginia’s tenacious defense. Martin made two free throws to close the gap back to 15 with 13:19 to play, and the Cavaliers responded with a 22-0 scoring run featuring buckets from Hauser, Clark, Murphy, Morsell, and Kadin Shedrick. The Tigers went 6:20 in that stretch without a bucket.
All seventeen players on the roster saw the court for the Cavaliers, and new faces like Carson McCorkle and Jabri Abdur-Rahim got burn down the stretch.
Next up, Virginia faces San Francisco at 11:30am on Friday morning. The game will be televised by ESPN.