Eleven days after suffering their first loss of the season at the hands of West Virginia, No. 16 Virginia returns to action Saturday after a lengthy break for exams to host Davidson in yet another contrast of styles game.
The Cavaliers overcame a slow start and had their chances to knock off the Mountaineers in Morgantown, W.Va., but came up just short despite keeping the game at the pace they wanted.
“We played well enough to be in there and have a chance,” Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said. “but not well enough in key stretches to come away with a win in this setting against that type of intensity and pressure.”
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Entering the game, West Virginia was rated as the 12th-fastest team in the country in regards to possessions per game (75), while Virginia entered as the slowest with an average of just 62 possessions. Despite playing at the Cavaliers’ pace, the Mountaineers managed to come away the victor — something that is not easy against Virginia.
Despite the loss, Virginia (8-1) has yet to allow 69 or more points in a game and remains the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense, allowing just 52.6 points.
Davidson (4-3) comes in to John Paul Jones Arena putting up over 83 points after starting the season with back-to-back 100-point outings. Since then, however, the Wildcats have lost three out of four games and have cracked the 80-point barrier just once.
Davidson boasts three players averaging at least 15 points, led by forward Peyton Aldridge, who scores at a 21.7-point clip while averaging 7.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists. The 6-foot-8 Aldridge can stretch the floor and make 3-pointers and will provide a tough matchup for the vaunted Virginia defense.
The Wildcats have made 92 3-pointers goals in seven games so far and shoot it at 39 percent from beyond the arc.
Sophomore guard Kyle Guy continues to be the catalyst for Virginia on the offensive side of the ball. He dropped in 18 points against West Virginia despite not scoring in the first half. Guy is averaging 16.8 points and is one of just two Cavaliers’ averaging in double figures — the other being senior Devon Hall (12.6 points).
Virginia’s mindset remains on the defensive end as it enters the final stretch before conference play begins on Dec. 30, and despite the loss to West Virginia, Bennett knows what he has in his team this year.
“The experience is valuable if we grow from it,” Bennett said. “When you get in games like the one against Davidson, you have to be ready and this is a great time to see where the defense is at.”
The two teams are meeting for the first time since 2014, when Virginia knocked off Davidson 83-72 in Charlottesville. The meeting is the 17th all-time, with the Cavaliers leading the series 12-4 and having won eight straight.