Virginia started its three-game homestand with an easy 67-42 win against the Naval Academy to improve to 3-1 on the season. The Hoos got a complete performance on both sides of the ball, as the overmatched Midshipman had no answer for an inspired UVA team. Virginia pulled ahead 17-7 quickly; when Navy went on a mini-run to close the lead to 17-12, UVA scored the game's next 13 points and never looked back. Navy finished with 42 points in 60 possessions (.7 PPP).
Wahoo fans can be relieved that, despite a quiet day at Davidson, Joe Harris is still very good at basketball. Joe made 7 of his 8 shots, including 2 for 3 from behind the arc, finishing with an efficient 16 points. Yes, his only miss was an airball. And yes, he missed both of his free-throws. But if Harris shoots 87.5% from the field all season, we'll excuse it. The Hoos shooting woes extended beyond the arc, where the team was 3-15 on the night.
Free-throws were a solitary cause of concern for Virginia, who made just 4 of 11 attempts on the night. It's a puzzling struggle for the Hoos, who shot a solid if unspectacular 70% last season, and graduated a 38% free-throw shooter, but are 54% from the line through 4 games. Most likely, the team will regress to the mean quickly; Joe Harris won't shoot 40%, nor Mitchell 59% for the remainder of the year. Still...fans eagerly await the time they can exhale.
Coming off the bench for the first time this year, Anthony Gill led the team in scoring with 18 on 8 of 9 shooting in just 18 minutes. Gill moved exceptionally well off the ball, finding himself open for a plethora of easy layups. A season-high 53% of the team's baskets were assisted, as Akil Mitchell finished with 4, and Harris and Evan Nolte with 3 each.
Malcolm Brogdon and Mike Tobey had big games, once again, as both shot 6 of 10 for 13 points. London Perrantes's capability at point guard has allowed Brogdon to really settle into the 2-guard spot where he excels. Though Perrantes has struggled shooting all season (1-10), his steadiness with the ball has been an asset, and Coach Bennett swears that London is a pretty good shooter that probably has a bit of nerves in his first college games.
On his birthday (the student section serenaded him before the game), Justin Anderson may not have scored, but he flew above the crowd to grab 8 rebounds.
Navy is probably the weakest opponent that Virginia will face this season, but the Hoos did a good job of improving on some areas that needed work (besides that free throw bugaboo). After Coach Bennett called UVA's defensive rebounding against Davidson "alarming," they pulled down 94% of Navy's misses. After a tentative game in Charlotte, Joe Harris made a conscious effort to assert himself on offense. After tinkering with different lineups in the first three games, a rotation that Bennett is comfortable with is beginning to take shape. The only thing that was missing was a Thomas Rogers bucket. (It was Caid Kirven who scored on a sweet jump hook).
UVA has two more tune-up opportunities, as Liberty and Hampton are next to visit John Paul Jones Arena. After that, the Hoos will head to a quietly dangerous Corpus Christi Tournament, where they'll start off with SMU (#67 KenPom). The matchup with Liberty tips off at 4 PM on Saturday, and it will be televised on ESPN3.