With a newly-updated ACC Championship banner hanging from the rafters, the Virginia Cavaliers won their home opener over Norfolk State, rolling to a 67-39 victory. The Spartans have given the Hoos trouble at JPJ in the recent past, but fans had nothing worry about tonight, as UVA's hot shooting and stingy defense resulted in an easy, workman-like victory. With the win, the team improves to 2-0 on the season.
With Joe Harris's departure last year, Virginia fans wondered: Who would replace his three-point shooting? The answer, apparently, is everyone. After NSU took a 6-5 lead five minutes in, the Hoos used a barrage of threes to quickly put the game away with a 17-4 run. The team shot 10-21 from behind the arc overall, and are now 15-28 combined on the season.
UVA extended their lead to 42-22 by halftime, and extended it in the second half. Norfolk State was overwhelmed by Virginia's length on the interior, combining for 15% two-point shooting, with UVA notching 11 blocks, including 3 each from Mike Tobey and Isaiah Wilkins. (15%!! They made FIVE two-pointers all night!!!). Marial Shayok deserves props as well, he seems to be everywhere on defense, and he could shoot the three-ball too. It was only Jeff Short's 19 points on hot three-point shooting that allowed NSU to finish with 39 points in 56 possessions (.70 PPP) on the night, while UVA ended at 1.18 PPP.
Justin Anderson led the way with 11 points, including 3 of 5 three-point shooting. After ending last year at 29% on 3s last year, he has clearly put in the work to improve his shot and turned into a real threat. Mike Tobey was the only other player in double-digits, finishing with 10 points on 4-6 shooting. Overall, nine players scored and fifteen saw playing time, including two full five-man "line change" substitutions, as Tony Bennett showed off the team's depth.
Once again, the game was against a far inferior opponent (with both missing key players to boot), but there's a lot to like. The team's balance and depth just give the Hoos a ton of ways to succeed offensively night, and all evidence points to this team's defense being as dominant as ever.
UVA will have one more tune-up game against South Carolina St. (ranked 340th by KenPom) on Tuesday, then see its first respectable opponent Friday night at JPJ against the GW Colonials.
With UVA's win over NSU, STL's readers will be donating $197 (and growing!) to the One Love Foundation, through the Pack Line Pledge. Wahoowa!