Long Beach St.-Virginia Preview
Not many would have expected Virginia to need a bounce-back game this early in the season, and likely no more would consider the Charleston Classic a threat for another defeat.
The sixth-ranked Cavaliers will try to string together wins while avoiding another stunner Friday night when they meet Long Beach State in a semifinal game at TD Arena in Charleston, South Carolina.
A shocking 73-68 loss at George Washington on Monday left questions about a defense Virginia (2-1) considers its backbone.
The proper way to rebound was routing a young Bradley team 82-57 in the opening round of the Charleston Classic on Thursday, using stiff defense and sharp shooting to regain some confidence.
A victory over the capable offense of Long Beach State would put the Cavaliers into Sunday night's championship game against either George Mason or Oklahoma State.
''I feel like we definitely had to come out and respond," said junior guard London Perrantes, who had 12 points and eight rebounds against Bradley. "It's early. It's only our third game and we're still trying to figure out some things. It was just good to go out there again after Monday and play a game.''
It was a complete one. Virginia built a 31-point lead thanks in part to 56.6 percent shooting. The Cavaliers made nine straight shots at one point in the second half and finished with 19 assists and nine turnovers.
They were led by senior forward Anthony Gill's 16 points and seven rebounds, while senior guard Malcolm Brogdon scored 13. Sophomore guard Marial Shayok made his second career start and had a career-high 10 points while matching another with six boards.
Virginia surrendered its most points in regulation against George Washington since an 87-52 loss at Tennessee on Dec. 30, 2013, but held the Braves to 39.1 percent shooting three days later.
The Cavaliers started slow and trailed 22-19 early, but they closed the first half on an 18-3 run while Bradley made just one of its final eight field goals of the half. Virginia topped the Braves in rebounding (35-21) and turnovers (13-9).
Long Beach State (3-0) might pose a tougher test for Virginia defensively as the 49ers have already eclipsed the 80-point plateau twice - beating BYU-Hawaii 91-57 on Nov. 14 and Seton Hall 80-77 in their tournament opener on Thursday.
The 49ers poured in 46 first-half points on 60 percent shooting against the Pirates for a seven-point lead at the break and then held on late to reach the semifinals. Senior guard Nick Faust led the way with 16 points, while South Carolina native Travis Hammonds scored 14 off the bench. Faust is averaging 13.3 points, though he has made just 31.0 percent of his shots.
Long Beach State has lost 13 straight games against ranked opponents and nine in a row versus teams in the top 10. The 49ers' last win against a top-25 foe was a 68-58 victory over No. 14 Xavier on Dec. 22, 2011, and in the same season they beat No. 9 Pittsburgh 86-76 on Nov. 16.
The 49ers play one of the Charleston Classic's two non-bracket games at Oklahoma State on Nov. 27.