Darius Thompson steps up to fill role for #10 Virginia

You never want to lose a guy to injury or illness, but #10 Virginia has been able to make the most of a bad situation, to the betterment of sophomore Darius Thompson.

Junior point guard London Perrantes has missed the past two games after undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Sunday, and it wasn’t an easy two-game stretch: at Ohio State and at home against William & Mary, two RPI Top 100 teams.

Thompson has stepped in and stepped up in Perrantes’ absence, scoring 12.0 points per game on 55.5 percent shooting over the past two games, with eight assists and two turnovers in 72 minutes of playing time.

Thompson adds another dimension to the Virginia attack, pushing tempo, in particular – UVA had 12 fast-break points in Saturday’s 67-52 win over the Tribe, important on a day in which the Cavs struggled from the field, shooting just 44.1 percent.

“Darius is pushing no matter what,” senior guard Malcolm Brogdon said. “Sometimes we get highlight plays, but sometimes we just get the defense on their toes so we can get really into our offense.”

Thompson also had a pair of highlight-reel dunks, including one that capped an 8-0 run that turned a seven-point game into a 15-point blowout in the late stages.

“It better be an ESPN Top 10 play, it better be number one,” senior forward Anthony Gill said of the second dunk. “That’s the craziest dunk I’ve seen in person in a long time. He’s so athletic and has the capability to do that on every play, so you have to look out for him and be careful.”

There is good news with regard to Perrantes: he took part in pregame warmups Saturday, was in uniform for the game, and all indications are that he will be available for Virginia’s next game, in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday against #15 West Virginia.

“We will find out when we practice tomorrow,” UVA coach Tony Bennett said. “We will get a feel for it. He has not practiced yet. We are hopeful, and I don’t think there have been any setbacks.“

Bennett feels good getting through this stretch without LP.

“Going on the road without London, playing a good team in William and Mary, those are two positive things with room for improvement,” Bennett said. “Now you head into a game against a very physical, pressure-oriented team that is playing good basketball in West Virginia.

“We have two days to prepare, so our depth has helped us. We are going to need that, and different guys have to step up at different times,” Bennett said.

– Story by Chris Graham

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