In the Virginia Cavaliers’ first road test of the season, UVA was outclassed by a better, more sound Houston team as the Cougars came out on top 67-47. Issues on the defensive glass and with ball security plagued the Wahoos as Virginia couldn’t make enough shots offensively to overcome the mistakes.
The game started poorly as Houston came out of the gates hot as the Cougars hit their first three shots to take an early 8-0 lead. A pretty turnaround jumper from Jayden Gardner got Virginia on the board, but scoring would continue to be sparse for Tony Bennett’s team for a while.
As Houston continued to make threes and dominated on the glass, the ‘Hoos fell even further behind quickly. The Cougars led 15-3 at the 14:07 mark. Fortunately, a pair of triples from Kihei Clark meant that UVA started to keep pace offensively. Reece Beekman put on the afterburners to score in transition before Kody Stattmann knocked down two threes of his own to give Virginia’s offense life in the middle of the first half.
Yet, any minimal momentum on the offensive end failed to carry over to the other side of the ball as Houston kept hitting shots and crashing the offensive boards. 12 turnovers from the ‘Hoos complicated matters and made life far too easy for Houston.
At the half, Kihei Clark led the Cavaliers with 8 points as the score sat at 36-23 with twenty minutes remaining for Virginia to make a comeback.
The second half was much similar to the first. UVA couldn’t hit shots while Houston seemingly couldn’t miss. There were brief moments of encouraging play. But, on the whole, Virginia was completely outclassed for a second straight half.
The mover-blocker offense was clunky at best and the Wahoos’ inability to hit shots was an absolute killer as UVA couldn’t generate anything easy offensively. Jayden Gardner was essentially a non-factor on offense while the guards failed to generate any meaningful penetration to force Kelvin Sampson’s defense to rotate.
Houston guards Mark Sasser and Kyler Edwards killed Virginia all night long as the pair combined to shoot 9-13 from deep. Sasser put up 19 points on 6-14 shooting overall while the former Texas Tech Red Raider Edwards got his revenge against the ‘Hoos with an 18-point performance on 5-10 shooting.
Even with some adjustments offensively to incorporate more ball screens and a better spread floor, the ‘Hoos couldn’t keep pace with Houston’s veteran play, hot shooting, bothersome defense, and offensive rebounding.
This was a bummer of an outing for Virginia. This was always going to be a very hard game to win. But the fact that the ‘Hoos were never really competitive is disappointing. Of course, this is just the third game of the season. But Tony Bennett and company have plenty of work to do to get this team to hit its stride once conference play comes around.