Virginia downs South Carolina State for 13th straight home victory
Malcolm Brogdon likes that No. 9 Virginia is off to a 3-0 start, but he doesn't want to like it too much.
Virginia finished a three-games-in-five-days stretch with a 75-55 victory against South Carolina State on Tuesday night. It was Virginia's sloppiest effort during that span, which was more difficult due the close scheduling than because of the competition.
"I think they help in terms of getting our confidence up, knowing where we can improve and what areas we're strong in," Brogdon said of opening against James Madison, Norfolk State and South Carolina State. "But at the same time, I think it can be fool's gold if we look at this and say that we've made it and that we're going to be fine.
"I think we still have so much to work on."
Brogdon and Justin Anderson scored 17 points each and Virginia closed the first half on a 22-6 run.
It was the 13th consecutive victory at home for the Cavaliers (3-0), who have coasted in each of their first three games. A big halftime margin once again allowed coach Tony Bennett to substitute liberally and experiment with his lineup for much of the second half. Anthony Gill added 11 points and Mike Tobey had 10 before taking seats early in favor of younger players.
The Bulldogs (0-3) were led by sophomore walk-on Karon Wright with 15 points, all coming on 3-pointers in the second half. Greg Mortimer added 10 points and Gabe McCray nine, but the team shot just 32.8 percent (19-58).
The Cavaliers began to put away the game at the midpoint of the first half. They led 19-14 until a driving basket by Brogdon sparked the big run to finish the half. Brogdon had eight points in the run, and Anderson and Gill scored five each.
The second half was more of the same except for the emergence of Wright for the Bulldogs. He hit his first three 3-pointers in a span of 2 1/2 minutes early in the half --the last one pulling South Carolina State to within 48-29 with 17:07 to play. They got no closer, but did leave having scored more against Virginia than either previous opponent had this season.
"We competed for 40 minutes with the No. 9 team in the country," South Carolina State coach Murray Garvin said. "I can coach that and we can build off that. ... It wasn't a walk in the park for (Virginia), so I can build off this."
The Cavaliers will step up in class on Friday when they host George Washington of the Atlantic 10.
Anderson said he can envision a different teammate taking the lead in scoring every night.
"We see Malcolm got going off today and that was beautiful to see him get his rhythm again," he said. "It came at a perfect time because we're going to need him on Friday to be aggressive."
South Carolina State.: The Bulldogs committed only six turnovers to 12 for Virginia, and outscored the Cavaliers 15-4 off takeaways. ... The Bulldogs won the second half, 35-34. ... The Bulldogs were playing two nights after wrapping up a two-game trip to the west coast on which they lost 77-59 at Washington on Friday and 91-52 at San Francisco on Sunday.
Virginia: The Cavaliers improved to 24-0 against schools from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. ... Virginia outscored the Bulldogs 40-14 in the paint. ... Bennett used 10 players for at least 13 minutes each