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What did Virginia get out of that blowout win over North Carolina A&T?

Chris Graham
tony bennett
Photo: UVA Athletics

Hate to denigrate the kids at North Carolina A&T. They’re on scholarship, they try hard. But still. What value is there for Virginia to play a game with NC A&T?

“Those reps are important, regardless of the score. Let’s put some stuff on tape,” was the way UVA coach Tony Bennett put it after his team’s 80-51 win on Tuesday.

It was 28-8 with nine minutes to go in the first half, 49-19 at halftime.

At least Tarleton State, which lost by a nearly identical score, 80-50, in the Nov. 7 season opener, beat Florida International by 17 its next time out.

And then Florida International, improbably, gave Miami everything it could handle before losing by six four days later.

A&T isn’t going to do much this year. The Aggies are staring down a 20-plus-loss season in Year 1 under new head coach Monte Ross.

But if anybody knows the importance of not looking past an opponent, it would be a Tony Bennett-coached team.

All I’ll say there is, 2018.

It still hurts, even with what happened a year later.

“It’s such a privilege to play, and our system is based on hustle and execution, and the idea to just respect every single opponent in every way and to not be fearful, no matter who they are and what level, it’s the idea of, you come out and play that way,” Bennett said.

“You just look around, and guys can get hot, things can happen. You never want to assume that with an experienced team. This is about us improving in play and getting those quality reps.”

Bennett won’t like that A&T opened the second half shooting 7-of-11 from the floor and 4-of-5 from three.

There might be an extra gasser or two because of that stretch.

Otherwise, he got the effort that he wanted from his guys.

Seven steals, 10 blocked shots, a 42-24 rebounding advantage.

That’s effort right there.

“I think we did well with that. That was kind of our biggest thing coming into this game, was not taking them lightly,” said second-year guard Ryan Dunn, who finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

“That’s kind of dangerous when they come out and play their game. They’re confident, so we had to come out and play. It was a really good team, they’re a great team. We just came out and were able to play our best defense and play our best offense,” Dunn said.

Dunn is the kid who was holding Bennett back from going at Cory Alexander after that play – you know which one – in the final minute of the Florida game.

You can see that he channels his coach well.

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].