After a slow start, the Virginia Cavaliers stormed back to beat Tulane 81-59 in their first of two games in the Cayman Islands Classic.
Here are five takeaways from UVA’s early morning bounce back win over the Green Wave.
The ‘Hoos can take a punch
Whether due to some early morning grogginess resulting from the 11 a.m. tip time or some other reason, the ‘Hoos got punched in the mouth in the first quarter by the Green Wave. They quickly fell behind 13-2 after the first five minutes of action and trailed by as many as fifteen late in the opening period.
After a disappointing loss to Oklahoma their last time on the court, the ‘Hoos could’ve easily let this one get away from them too. But instead, they regrouped and dominated the game from the second quarter on, outscoring Tulane 69-35 through the final three quarters.
Slow starts to games have been a recurring issue in the early going this season for Virginia, but lack of resilience has not.
The three-point shooting is back
In another sign of the mental fortitude of Coach Mox’s squad, after shooting just 1-of-23 from three-point range against Oklahoma on Sunday, the ‘Hoos went 15-of-35 (42.9%) from beyond the arc against Tulane.
The shooting display set new season highs in both three-pointers made and three-point percentage. The ‘Hoos have so many players on the roster who can be outside threats that it seemed this type of performance was due.
Kymora Johnson (3-6 3PT) and Sam Brunelle (4-5 3PT) bounced back in a big way after cold performances against the Sooners, while Yonta Vaughn (4-8 3PT) and Cady Pauley (2-6 3PT) gave the ‘Hoos a much-needed spark off the bench.
UVA flashed its depth
Speaking of the bench, Virginia’s reserves had their biggest performance of the season to date. The ‘Hoos got 49 bench points against the Green Wave, led by huge performances from Yonta Vaughn (a team high 14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists), Sam Brunelle (12 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block), Alexia Smith (10 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals), and Cady Pauley (8 points and 1 highlight-reel assist).
Vaughn, Brunelle, and Smith were Virginia’s top three scorers on Friday, and seven Cavaliers played ten or more minutes off the bench.
The depth on this roster was a major point of optimism coming into this season, and with most of the squad now healthy, the ‘Hoos were finally able to flash it against the Green Wave.
The John Gray Gymnasium floor wipers had a day
Both Virginia and Tulane players were slipping and sliding all over the court inside the John Gray Gymnasium in George Town. With temperatures in the upper 80s outside, perspiration and moisture built up very quickly on the floor.
This led to a lengthy delay late in the second quarter as the entire court had to be dried, and the young floor wipers were put to the test throughout the morning, frantically wiping up wet spots in between plays. The ‘Hoos had the first game of the day at John Gray, so hopefully after a busy next 24 hours of basketball the court dries up by the time Virginia plays LSU tomorrow at 5 p.m..
Who does FloHoops think they are?
It was an encouraging morning on the court for the ‘Hoos, but a frustrating one to actually be able to watch. Virginia’s bout with Tulane as well as tomorrow’s clash with the defending champion LSU Tigers are streamed exclusively on FloHoops, the basketball division of FloSports which specializes in broadcasting collegiate sports that don’t typically get a lot of coverage.
That’s all well and good, but FloSports charges $29.99 per month for a subscription. For comparison, each month you can get Amazon Prime for $14.99, Netflix for $15.49, HBO Max for $19.99, Hulu (without ads) for $17.99, Disney+ (without ads) for $13.99, or ESPN+ for $10.99. But I digress.