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Virginia starts season with 79-51 win over JMU

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Basketball's back!!!

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

The Hoos snapped a looooooong 1-game losing streak, starting the season with a 79-51 win against JMU in Harrisonburg.  UVA used red-hot shooting to pull away early, then wore down the Dukes to notch the road win.

Shortly after the opening tip, the team put some distance between themselves and JMU, much to the relief of the Wahoo faithful. Anthony Gill scored 9 quick points to stake the team to a 14-3 lead just 4 minutes into the game.  Though he finished with 15 points, he was often on the bench in foul trouble; still, the Dukes had no answer for him on offense.

By halftime, the lead was 51-33, and Virginia would continue to pour it on in the second period, bringing the final margin to 28.  Surely, there was some early season rust on both sides of the ball. But the dominant shooting performance (the Hoos made 10 of their first 11 shots) and substantial talent differential easily covered them up.

Justin Anderson led the team with 18 points, shooting 6 of 10, including 4 of 5 from behind the arc, with all his shots coming from the corner.  Seems like someone practiced that over the summer.  Malcolm Brogdon scored a quiet 14 points on 5-9 shooting, with Isaiah Wilkins adding 9 more.

Virginia's 79 points came on 66 possessions (1.20 PPP), while they allowed .77 PPP.  The Hoos shot a blistering 71% on threes and 51% on twos, easily overcoming the loss of London Perrantes and Evan Nolte, who were suspended because of violations of team rules.  Defensively, the team didn't gel early, allowing 33 points (in 33 possessions) at halftime, as players looked a step slow on rotation and fouled too often against a very poor JMU offense.  But the team looked to refocus in the second half.  The Dukes finished with an eFG% of 36%, including 26% on two-pointers.

Anthony Gill and Malcolm Brogdon were excellent, as expected.  The fun part of the first game was the unexpected (or the unknown). And it was pretty cool to see Isaiah Wilkins have a big first game.  He didn't just score 8, he threw down a loud dunk, blocked a shot, drew a charge, and added 2 steals and 5 rebounds.  Marial Shayok also saw significant time, scoring 6 points, and BJ Stith made a late appearance as well.  With London Perrantes out, Devon Hall played well in his first appearance, scoring just 5 points, but providing a steady hand at PG.

Jack Salt did not play and is likely to redshirt.

This is a "veteran" team...but with just 1 senior, it's a young one as well. That one senior, Darion Atkins, had a lapse when he picked up a technical out of frustration. Atkins had a good game otherwise, coming off the bench to score 7 points and pull down 10 rebounds. His defensive effort was notable, as he looks to fill the large shoes of Akil Mitchell.

Overall, I think fans will be pretty happy with this performance.  Some early defensive issues and sloppiness with the ball (16 turnovers) are nothing unexpected in a first game.  Virginia's array of weapons are obvious, and seeing them out there along with some strong contributions from the new additions was promising.  Best of all...BASKETBALL IS BACK!

The team has a quick turnaround, as Norfolk State visits JPJ on Sunday at 7 PM.