Virginia takes care of business in return: Tops William & Mary, 76-40
Virginia got 15 points from Trey Murphy III, held William & Mary to 28.6 percent shooting – but most important, the champs got back in the ring.
The final, in front of a sparse pre-holiday crowd at JPJ, and a few watching on TV on a Tuesday afternoon, was 76-40, it was never close – not that you expected it to be.
W&M (2-3) had just gotten its doors blown off by High Point over the weekend, and the people who know the CAA have the Tribe finishing dead last in that once decent low mid-major conference.
The 16th-ranked Cavaliers (4-1) were getting back on the court for the first time since Dec. 4, having had three games postponed or canceled due to COVID-19 issues in the program.
The still-reigning champs from 2019 were looking to put two good halves together for the first time this season, and good news, they were able to do so.
It was 26-6 ‘Hoos 12 minutes in, 36-14 at the break.
William & Mary scored 11 points in the opening 5:04 of the second half, bringing to mind an issue for this Virginia team – how it has largely played lights-out defense in the opening 20, with the D deteriorating in the second 20.
Got that fixed – the Cavaliers held the Tribe to 15 points in the final 14:56.
Murphy, the Rice transfer, in his first start at UVA, notched his 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor, hitting 3-of-6 from three, in 30 minutes of playing time.
Redshirt freshman Kadin Shedrick had 10 points and six rebounds in 13 minutes off the bench.
Virginia shot 28-of-54 from the floor (51.9 percent).
A little worrisome: just 9-of-27 from three (33.3 percent).
The team is shooting 36.1 percent from three on the season.
With weapons like Murphy (52.4% from three), Sam Hauser (43.5%), Jay Huff (44.4%) and Tomas Woldentensae (37.5%), it’s going to need to be better.
If only because: the next game is #1 Gonzaga, on Saturday, the day after Christmas.
At last check, the ‘Zags are shooting just under 100 percent from three – sorry, being told by the fact-checkers that they’re only shooting 36.3 percent from behind the arc this year.
They were 13-of-26 in the 99-88 win over then-#3 Iowa last weekend.
And they’ve got wins over Kansas, West Virginia, Auburn.
The champs against the current #1.
Something to look forward to.
Story by Chris Graham