Home NIT Notebook: One of the 3Ms gets rotation minutes in Virginia win

NIT Notebook: One of the 3Ms gets rotation minutes in Virginia win

taine murray NIT
Taine Murray drives for a fast-break layup. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Going into Virginia’s first-round NIT matchup with Mississippi State, coach Tony Bennett got Taine Murray and Igor Milicic Jr. some reps with the first unit in practice.

Murray ended up getting rotation minutes in the second half when Kody Stattmann, who had four points in 15 minutes off the bench in the first half, couldn’t go.

“Kody gave us a good lift and then couldn’t play in the second half. So I thought, OK, this is the time,” Bennett said.

Murray had two points, scoring on a fast-break layup that pushed Virginia to an eight-point lead with 9:21 to go, and two rebounds in 10 second-half minutes, with a plus/minus of +5.

“I thought Taine came in and ran the floor, nice layup, guarding well. One time it was a little soft on the ball, but I was really happy for him to get in there,” Bennett said.

Beekman in the record books

reece beekman NIT
Reece Beekman had 14 points, six assists and four steals. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Reece Beekman had 14 points (5-of-7 FG, 4-of-5 FT), six assists, one turnover, and four steals.

The four steals give Beekman, second in the voting for ACC Defensive Player of the Year, the top spot on UVA’s single-season steals list with 70, surpassing Othell Wilson.

“I would just say I’ve put in a lot of work,” Beekman said. “From the start when I came here to now, I feel like my defense has grown a lot, and I’ve learned a lot from Kihei [Clark]. Kihei has taught me a lot of different techniques and things I’ve picked up that he uses on me. I’m glad that I broke the record. It’s a great feeling, but I’ve got to just keep playing.”

Mississippi State coach Ben Howland heaped praise on Beekman postgame.

“Beekman finished second in ACC voting for the Defensive Player of the Year. I think that speaks volumes,” Howland said. “We’ve only seen him on film since we found out Sunday night, whereas, they’re seeing him every day in this league, and he is not only a great defender, but a great passer, he had six assists, only one turnover, his assist to turnover ratio is top 10 in the country. Really, really bright, intelligent player, and he’s a special talent.”

Howland endorses Bennett

“I think Tony is one of the best three coaches in the country,” Howland said. “I think that’s been proven here. I just have so much respect for Tony and what he’s accomplished at Virginia, what he accomplished at Washington State, which is a next to impossible place to win. And he had him as high as fifth in the country there in 2008. He did a fantastic job, and he does it the right way. He is unique. He is a good Christian man. You guys are so blessed to have him.”

Story by Chris Graham



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