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Preview: Cory Alexander in the house for ACCN as UVA set to face Texas Southern

Chris Graham
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Photo: Twitter/X

Thursday night in JPJ should be quite interesting. The game notes from UVA Athletics tell us that Cory Alexander is scheduled to be the color analyst for the ACC Network presentation of Virginia-Texas Southern.

This. Should. Be. Fun.

The opponent, Texas Southern (0-2) is no pushover. The Tigers have represented the Southwestern Athletic Conference in the NCAA Tournament three seasons running, as a 16 seed, sure, but we know the history of 16s.

Sorry to have to bring that up.

Texas Southern is in a roster rebuild this season, like pretty much everybody else in this transfer-portal era.

Three of the five starters are transfers, as is sixth man Deon Stroud.

Sixth-year head coach Johnny Jones, who is 90-75 at Texas Southern, and 385-309 overall, in a 24-year career that includes a five-year run at LSU, from 2012-2017, schedules tough – on Saturday, he’s taking his team to Top 10 Creighton, with another road trip later this month at top-ranked Purdue.

Jones is still getting a feel for his 2023-2024 team. At the moment, he doesn’t have a double-digit scorer, with Jonathan Cisse, a sophomore Incarnate Word transfer, and fifth-year senior PJ Henry tied for the team lead at 9.5 points per game.

In the Tigers’ 63-52 loss to Arizona State on Nov. 11, Henry led the way with 12 points, but he was 5-of-24 from the floor to get them, including 2-of-12 from three.

Yikes.

Cisse led the way for Texas Southern in its season-opening 92-55 loss to New Mexico on Nov. 6 with 11 points, but that came on 3-of-15 shooting from the floor.

Freshman Jaylen Wysinger had 10 in the loss to UNM, on 4-of-12 shooting.

As you can tell from the shooting numbers, Jones gives his guys the green light.

Texas Southern will try to push tempo – the Tigers average 73.9 possessions per game, ranking in the top 15 percent in D1.

Virginia, which is 3-0, with easy wins over Tarleton State and North Carolina A&T sandwiched around a 73-70 slugfest win over Florida last week, ranks in the bottom 10 nationally in tempo, as is usual.

About that Florida slugfest from last week: you no doubt remember the situation that Alexander, the TV color analyst, inserted himself into late in that game, loudly pleading for, then directing, the game officials toward reviewing and overturning an out-of-bounds call in Florida’s favor that, as it turns out, had been called correctly in the award of possession to Virginia before the intervention.

Alexander, laughing about how UVA coach Tony Bennett was visibly angry with him after the call was reversed, noted during the game broadcast that he was next on the schedule for a game at his alma mater later this month when Texas A&M comes to Charlottesville for the ACC-SEC Challenge.

There was an idea that UVA Athletics would be working behind the scenes to request to ESPN that Alexander not be assigned to any future dates involving Virginia games after what transpired.

Interesting that, not only is Alexander not off future UVA broadcasts, but he’s basically being brought in less than a week after the broadcast debacle.

All you can think here is, maybe the higher-ups at ESPN want the drama.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].