Virginia has shot well from 3-point range through two games, but coach Tony Bennett and his players understand that good balance likely will be key to the team’s offensive success.
The ninth-ranked Cavaliers could focus on a more inside-out game Tuesday night against a visiting South Carolina State team that’s struggled to defend the paint in its first two contests.
Virginia (2-0) went 13 of 18 from 3-point range through the first 60 minutes of the season before missing eight of 10 in the second half of Sunday’s 67-39 victory over Norfolk State. The ACC’s reigning regular season and conference tournament champion only attempted 15.1 3s per game last season, but its 36.9 percent mark from long distance was third in the league.
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"We are not a heavy 3-point shooting team, but in a game (like Sunday) where there is a lot of zone and it’s condensed, there is some real rhythm looks we will take," said Bennett, whose team is shooting 50.5 percent overall.
"I think our identity will be a good balance and an inside-outside approach. It will be determined by how the team is playing you."
Virginia’s struggles from long distance in the final 20 minutes against Norfolk State proved what it already knows about relying too heavily on that aspect of the game.
"It would be a mistake if we fell in love with a 3-point shot," said guard Malcolm Brogdon, who went 2 for 3 from beyond the arc Sunday. "With good basketball, the ball has to rotate; the ball has to touch the paint off the dribble, off the post up. I think that is a strength of ours. Guys fall in love with it, that’s for sure, but you need to be mindful of it."
A 29.8-percent shooter from 3-point range in his first two seasons, guard Justin Anderson is 7 of 10 through two games. Seven-footer Mike Tobey, meanwhile, is 6 of 9 from the field and Virginia has outscored its first two opponents 58-18 in the paint.
"I feel like we have a lot of weapons," said point guard London Perrantes, who had seven points and four assists without a turnover Sunday after he was suspended for Friday’s 79-51 victory over James Madison due to a violation of team rules.
"We’re all unselfish. We all can make the next pass, and we all can make the open shot."
Though the Cavaliers likely won’t pass up a quality look from beyond the arc Tuesday, they could find success by working the ball inside to Tobey, 6-8 forwards Anthony Gill and Darion Atkins, and 6-7 freshman Isaiah Wilkins.
South Carolina State (0-2), which starts one player taller than 6-5, has been outscored 88-40 in the paint while falling at Washington and San Francisco by a combined 57 points. The Bulldogs allowed 32 second-chance points and were outrebounded 100-68 in those contests.
Reserve guard Karon Wright has totaled 27 points in two games, and was the only Bulldog in double figures with 13 in Sunday’s 91-52 loss to the Dons.
Facing a second straight school from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, the Cavaliers are 22-0 against such opponents. They won the first meeting with South Carolina State, 75-38, on Nov. 13, 2011.
Virginia has won 30 straight regular-season home games against unranked teams since a 59-53 loss to Delaware on Nov. 13, 2012.