Ugly, but UVa.’s Bennett will ‘take it,’ Cavs beat Tennessee, 46-38
“It looked great to me. I’ll take it,” said Bennett, whose Cavs (7-2) jumped out to a double-digit lead midway through the first half against the Volunteers (4-3) and never looked back.
And for the most part, they didn’t look all that good, either. Virginia shot 35.8 percent from the field and was just 1-for-8 from three-point range, but Tennessee was that much worse offensively – 28.8 percent from the field, 3-for-19 on threes and 12 turnovers in a low-possession game.
“We just have to do a better job of shooting the ball with confidence, but I thought the effort was there. We just came up short,” UT coach Cuonzo Martin said.
UVa. led by as many as 15 in the first half as the Vols scored just six points in the first 14:50 before going on a first-half-ending 10-4 run to cut the Virginia lead to 25-16 at the half.
A Skylar McBee three extended the run to 15-4 and closed Tennessee to within 25-21 1:51 into the second half. A pair of layups by point guard Jontel Evans pushed the lead back to eight and fueled an 11-0 ‘Hoos run that left it at 36-21 with 14:07 to go.
That’s when the game slowed to a crawl. Virginia would score only four points over the next nine minutes as Tennessee chipped away at the lead, eventually getting it down to five at 38-33 on a pair of free throws by Kenny Hall at the 7:41 mark.
The next points of the game wouldn’t come until 4:53 on a layup by Akil Mitchell that made it 40-33 UVa. Tennessee would cut the lead to four on a Jarnell Stokes layup with 37 seconds left, but that was as close as it would get.
The win was the sixth in a row for Virginia after a 1-2 start that included a loss at home to Delaware. That stretch saw Bennett struggle to get a lineup together with Evans and backup point guard Teven Jones not available.
Evans left the Tennessee game with 13:41 to go with an undisclosed foot injury. Jones, a 2011 alum of the postgraduate program at Fishburne Military School, went the rest of the way at the point, and hit a pair of free throws with 32 seconds left to ice the game.