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Sam Hauser exceeds high expectations in Virginia debut

Virginia got 19 points and perfect three-point shooting out of the Marquette transfer.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Towson David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Hauser had to wait an excruciating 615 days between college basketball games. The 6’8 forward played his final game for Marquette — an 83-64 loss to Ja Morant and Murray State in the NCAA tournament — on March 21, 2019. After sitting out the mandatory year for transfers, he debuted for No. 4 Virginia in yesterday’s 89-54 win over Towson.

To say the expectations were high around Hauser would be severely underselling it. The Cavaliers struggled to score last season after the departures of Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, and De’Andre Hunter from the Virginia squad that won the national championship in 2019. Hauser was expected to provide immediate help in that arena, and he garnered All-ACC type hype in the off-season. The media voted the Hoos the preseason favorite in the ACC for the first time since 1982-83 — and only the second time in school history — in large part because of what Hauser was expected to bring to the team.

Even with those astronomical expectations, Hauser managed to exceed them on Wednesday afternoon’s win in an unsettlingly empty “Bubbleville” event in Uncasville, Connecticut. Hauser finished with 19 points on 7-for-9 shooting, including a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. It felt fitting that after months of Virginia players telling media that Sam “never missed” in practice that he opened all scoring with a three pointer.

Beyond the scoring, Hauser was active on the boards with four offensive and four defensive rebounds for a total of eight in the game. He also added three assists and committed no fouls in 25 minutes of action.

“All of last year I was chomping at the bit to get back on the court and play with these guys, and it’s just, it’s a relief to be back out there playing with my new teammates,” Hauser said after the game. “There were a lot of emotions running through my head yesterday and this morning before the game, but I’m just excited that we’re able to play and I hope everything works out so we can play Friday again.”

If not for Trey Murphy’s surprise debut that saw the Rice transfer score a game-high 21 points on 6-for-8 shooting from beyond the arc, more attention would be paid to Hauser’s performance. Neither teammate seemed concerned about the attention, instead emphasizing how easy it was to mesh with their new Cavalier teammates.

“Sam’s [Hauser] been patient and sat out last year and made the most of his redshirt year and his maturity showed on the floor,” Tony Bennett said of his redshirt senior. “Obviously, we shot the ball well and did some good things but great having them [Hauser and Murphy], you could see our depth and it was, you know, a nice outing.”

The Cavaliers look to improve to 2-0 on the season as they take on San Francisco on Friday morning at 11:30. You can catch all the action on ESPN.