Hampton to get taste of Virginia’s top-ranked defense

As Virginia’s nonconference schedule comes to a halt on Friday, the 13th-ranked Cavaliers will invite in-state neighbor Hampton into John Paul Jones Arena for a pre-Christmas tilt.

Virginia is looking to enter ACC play with one or fewer losses for the fourth straight season as it takes a 10-1 record into Friday’s game after dispatching Savannah State 78-47 on Tuesday night.

“I think we have a pretty good feel of who we are,” Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said after Tuesday’s win. “But we obviously know how good the ACC is … and I think you’ll continue to be in so many tough battles against high-level competition. We just have to keep improving.”

Before their daunting ACC schedule arrives, Bennett and his team will have one more shot against an inferior opponent as Hampton travels up Interstate 64 with a 5-8 record. The Pirates have lost three of their last four games, but have been competitive this season under ninth-year head coach Edward Joyner, Jr.

Most recently, the Pirates knocked off Appalachian State 86-53 on Wednesday night.

Hampton is led by sophomore guard Jermaine Marrow who is averaging 19 points per game and 6.5 assists per game. Marrow will provide a challenge for Virginia’s guards as his 6-foot frame and quickness has proven to be tough for opposing teams to guard. Marrow has scored in double figures in every game except one this season. Marrow scored 18 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and dished out six assists against Appalachian State.

Virginia got a career-high 17 points from sophomore Ty Jerome in its win over Savannah State. Jerome snapped out of a slump where he scored just 14 points combined in his previous three games.

Despite battling a bevy of injuries early in the season, Jerome has remained confident and knows what he needs to do for his team.

“I think I just do a disservice to this team, especially against better competition, if I’m not aggressive,” Jerome said. “Just being aggressive and making the right decisions is what it’s all about.”

The Cavaliers held their fifth opponent to less than 50 points in their win Tuesday night, and have yet to allow an opponent to shoot 50 percent or better this season. Virginia is allowing just 52.7 points per game, which ranks first in the country.

Aside from the one loss to West Virginia, the Cavaliers have won their nonconference games by an average of 21 points.

This will be the ninth all-time meeting between the two teams from the Commonwealth with Virginia holding an 8-0 edge. The last meeting between the two teams came in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament where the Cavaliers handled the Pirates 81-45.

All eight wins by Virginia have been by double-digits. It will be Virginia’s second-straight game against a MEAC opponent.

Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on Friday.