“We just learned we need to play more sound,” the Cavaliers' 7-foot-1 senior said.
He helped Virginia do that Tuesday, scoring 13 points as the Cavaliers rebounded from last Friday's stunning defeat with a 76-51 victory over St. Francis (Pa.).
The Cavaliers opened a 17-point lead before the game was eight minutes old and cruised from there, allowing coach Tony Bennett to play his deep bench in what he described as “hockey shifts.”
Bryce Laskey led the Red Flash (1-2) with 12 points and Mark Flagg had 11. They played without starting point guard Ramiir Dixon-Conover, who suffered an ankle injury in the second half of St. Francis' game against UMBC on Saturday.
Virginia put this one away quickly in a nearly empty John Paul Jones Arena, where state law permits no more than 250 to be in attendance because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Cavaliers led 21-4 after a dunk by Kody Stattmann with 12:36 left in the first half. The lead was 45-13 at halftime and grew to as much as 62-20 early in the second half.
“I’m never happy with a loss, but I thought there was a lot of growth,” Red Flash coach Rob Krimmel said, adding that he expected the Cavaliers to come out focused in their home opener. “They have a lot of pride, obviously.”
St. Francis: The Red Flash were looking to go to 2-0 against Atlantic Coast Conference foes, having opened the season with an 80-70 victory at Pittsburgh. St. Francis was also seeking its fourth win against a ranked team and first in 62 years. Its last victory against a ranked foe was against No. 13 St. Bonaventure on Jan 24, 1959.
Virginia: The Cavaliers allowed San Francisco to make 13 of 28 3-point tries, but had no such issue against the Red Flash. St. Francis was 7 of 24 from 3-point range and made 18 field goals in all, on 50 attempts.
Bennett started freshman Reece Beekman instead of veteran Kihei Clark at point guard. Beekman finished with two points, four assists and no turnovers in 22 minutes. Clark, a key contributor to the Cavaliers' 2019 national title, played just under 15 minutes, did not score and had three turnovers.
Bennett said it was a “personal decision” to start Beekman and did not elaborate.
Bennett used 16 players with 11 getting at least 10 minutes, and 10 of them scored. The Cavaliers shot 51.7% (30-58) despite missing 17 of 22 3-point attempts.
“You can't cover everyone in our offense, which is a great problem to have,” Huff said,
Saint Francis stays in Virginia, playing at Liberty on Thursday night.
Virginia hosts Kent State on Friday night.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP--Top25
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