Teven Jones a big part of turnaround for ‘Hoos
It was a small sample size, admittedly, but through three games, two of them ugly losses, and a stretch that saw Virginia average 54 points per contest, it was looking like a lost season in the making for Coach Tony Bennett.
Enter Teven Jones, a redshirt freshman from Fishburne Military School, who had to sit out the opener, a 63-59 loss to George Mason, for an undisclosed violation of team rules, then Virginia’s split of its first two games in the Preseason NIT with a pinched nerve that had threatened to put him on the shelf for an extended period of time.
With last year’s top two point guards, Jontel Evans and Malcolm Brogdon, themselves down with injury, Bennett was forced to give minutes at the point to a group that included a walk-on and even shooting guard Joe Harris.
Jones was finally able to make his UVa. debut on Nov. 17 against Seattle, and the anemic Cavs offense turned into a juggernaut in an 83-43 win over a team that had beaten Virginia in Charlottesville two years ago and given them fits on the road in the Pacific Northwest in 2011. A pair of wins in the consolation rounds of the NIT this week included another 80-point outburst in the finale against North Texas on Tuesday, a game that saw Jones put up the best numbers of his young career, 13 points and four assists in 31 minutes.
Jones is averaging 7.7 points and 2.7 assists in 27.7 minutes through three games, all UVa. victories.
“I am pleasantly surprised. I always knew he was quick, but we haven’t seen him play a whole lot in a game setting,” Bennett said of Jones, who enrolled at Virginia in January and practiced with the NCAA Tournament-bound Cavs as a redshirt.
“For him to be able to step in and contribute the way he did was great,” said Bennett.
With the timetable for return for Evans and Brogdon still very much in the air, the 2012-2013 Cavs are, for the foreseeable future, Jones’ team.
Jones, for his part, isn’t claiming that mantle for himself. No quarterback controversies here – when Evans returns, Jones says, the job is his.
“Me and Jontel have a very close relationship. He’s like my big brother. Coach Bennett said when we’re both healthy we’re going to be a tough team to deal with because we can both put pressure on the ball and run the team. When he gets back I’ll be even happier, and I’m fine with coming off the bench behind him,” Jones said.
More at www.FishburnePGBasketball.org.