Yale-Virginia Preview

BY foxsports • November 18, 2016

After failing to make a 3-pointer in a game for the first time since 2011, Virginia head coach Tony Bennett wasn't too concerned with his team's shooting performance after the Cavaliers dispatched of St. Francis Brooklyn 72-32 on Tuesday night.

In fact, Bennett's mood was very positive, mostly due to Virginia's stellar frontcourt play and a balanced scoring attack that saw six players score at least eight points.

"I think we are going to have to continue to be balanced," Bennett said. "I think this is more of a balanced scoring team, and I like that. It is nice to have guys that when you need a bucket can go get one."

No. 8 Virginia will be looking for their 22nd straight win at John Paul Jones Arena Sunday afternoon against Yale.

Like the Cavaliers, the Bulldogs have begun the 2016-17 campaign 2-0 and have had some impressive offensive numbers to show for it. After knocking off a talented Washington team on the road 98-90 to start the season, Yale proceeded to hang 89 points on Lehigh in an overtime win Thursday night.

The two teams will clash with different styles of play as Yale will look to speed up a Virginia team that currently leads the country in scoring defense at just 41 points per game.

"I think this team understands that we are going to have to be so good defensively," Bennett said. "That is going to be our ticket. We said that is mandatory for us and we know what we have to do."

The Cavaliers will have to deal with Yale forward Sam Downey, who is leading the Bulldogs with an average of 19.5 points per game while playing 39 minutes. Downey and his fellow frontcourt mates will have to deal with a deep Virginia team that boasts five players currently fighting for two spots underneath.

Memphis transfer Austin Nichols saw his first game action with the Cavaliers on Tuesday after being suspended for Virginia's opener against UNC Greensboro. Nichols put in 11 points in just 16 minutes and showed why he is widely considered as one of the best big men in the country.

A Downey/Nichols matchup could be one to keep an eye on as the Bulldogs play their first of two straight games against an ACC opponent (Pittsburgh on Nov. 22).

Virginia currently boasts six players who are averaging at least eight points per game through the first two games. Guard Marial Shayok leads the Cavaliers at 11.5 points per game.

Much like Bennett and Virginia, Yale head coach James Jones knows the key to his team's success is balance.

"The best part of our team through the first two games is that we've gotten contributions from everybody in both games," Jones said. "When you get contributions like that especially off of the bench, it makes your team that much better."

Virginia will be the first ACC team Yale has played since the second round of last season's NCAA Tournament where the Bulldogs fell 71-64 to Duke.

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