No. 7 Virginia's defense ready for Grambling State
After extending their home winning streak to a John Paul Jones Arena-record 22 straight games Sunday, No. 7 Virginia looks to extend that mark against Grambling State on Tuesday night in the second round of the Emerald Coast Classic.
The Cavaliers have held their last two opponents to under 40 points, which brings the total to 16 games that a Tony Bennett-coached Virginia team has held an opponent to fewer than 40 points.
Grambling State enters the matchup 347th in the country in scoring offense, averaging just under 57 points per game -- a stat that doesn't bode well against Virginia. The Cavaliers (3-0) enter the matchup allowing just 40 points per game.
Guard Ervin Mitchell will have to do the bulk of the scoring for the Tigers, as he enters the game averaging 13.3 points.
Virginia has received balance throughout its lineup this season on a team that can play 10 or 11 guys on any given night. Guard Marial Shayok has been Bennett's sixth man off of the bench and leads the Cavaliers in scoring. Shayok is coming off of a 15-point effort in Virginia's 62-38 win over Yale on Sunday.
"Marial obviously brings a scoring punch for us," Bennett said of the 6-foot-5 junior. "He's a hard-playing defender and offensively, he's aggressive. I like that."
The Cavaliers' depth in the frontcourt and the backcourt will be a tough test for a Grambling State team that averages just 31 rebounds and seven assists per game. Virginia senior guard London Perrantes recorded seven assists himself in the win over Yale.
"I don't have to do much talking in front of these guys," Perrantes said of his team. "I just try to lead by example and come out here every day and just go hard."
Big scoring runs and holding opponents to long droughts without scoring have been a catalyst to Virginia's 3-0 start. The Cavaliers have used three separate runs of at least 16-0 this season and that trend could continue against an opponent that has shown the inability to put the ball in the basket during its 1-2 start.
Both teams will make their way south to Niceville, Fla., after Tuesday's game for the third round of the Emerald Coast Classic, which resumes Friday.