The Virginia Cavaliers were back in action tonight after a 12-day layoff, turning in a 70-54 win over the Vikings of Cleveland State. With the workmanlike victory, the Hoos improved to 10-0 on the season, the program's best start since the 2000-2001 season.
Justin Anderson and Malcolm Brogdon led the Hoos with 16 points each. Anderson started slowly, but scored 14 in the second period, including the team's first 8 points after halftime. He continued his hot three-point shooting, making 2 of 3 from behind the arc (one while being fouled) to improve to 61% on the season, and notched 3 assists as well. Brogdon scored his points on 4-9 shooting, but got to the line to sink 8 free-throws against a CSU team that fouls often. (UVA shot 28 FTs to 55 total FGAs).
Anthony Gill scored in double figures as well, gutting out 13 points and 8 rebounds despite taking numerous shots to the head. And Evan Nolte drilled two three-pointers on his way to 8 points, as he continues to get his shot back.
As a team, the Hoos made 45% of their 3s and 51% of their 2s, and held Cleveland State to 30% three-point shooting and 43% on 2s.
This game wasn't the cleanest or the prettiest one we've seen UVA play this year. The Hoos fumbled a few rebounds, missed some bunnies, and let up on defense in the second half. Allowing 54 points sounds like a strong effort, but when they came in 54 possessions about a poor offensive team, it's nothing to be too proud of. And I was going to bring up the fact that, coming out of a long layoff, the team could have been a bit rusty. But then I saw this:
Bennett on the excuse of a long break making you rusty: "Don't buy into that crap."— Whitelaw Reid (@WhiteysWorld365) December 19, 2014
And Coach Bennett, as always, is right. The Hoos certainly didn't appear bothered by the exam break when they held the Vikings to score just 4 points in the first 13 minutes. Rather, they just allowed a few too many open shots and had a few mental lapses with a big lead. After a first half in which the team played outstanding defense but struggled offensively, the Hoos switched it up in a more free-flowing second half.
At the end of the day, the game was an easy home victory against a solid opponent. Fans' biggest complaint should be the walk-ons giving up two late buckets (one off a steal), which allowed Cleveland State to score over 50 points, meaning this wasn't a #PacklinePledge game, then cover the -16.5 point spread.
UVA has a two day break before hosting a good Harvard team, ranked 27th by KenPom, at JPJ on Sunday. That game tips off at noon and will air on ESPNU.