No. 14 Virginia is rounding into shape for the start of the ACC season next week and hopes to gain a little more momentum when it hosts Hampton in the final non-conference tune-up Friday night. The Cavaliers played their patented strong defense the last two games after an 11-day break for finals and showed some offensive progress in victories over Davidson and Savannah State.
“I think we have a pretty good feel of who we are,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett told reporters after his 198th win at the school. “But we obviously know how good the ACC is, that goes without saying, and I think you’ll continue to be in so many tough battles against high-level competition, and we just have to keep improving.” Three players who are not averaging in double figures scoring led the way in the 78-47 victory over Savannah State on Tuesday as the Cavaliers shot 50 percent from the field and forced 19 turnovers. “I like the leadership,” Bennett told reporters. “I think that’s emerged as I thought it would with Isaiah (Wilkins) and Devon (Hall) and Jack (Salt), our captains. We talked about empowering them from day one and they’ve done a good job.” Hampton knocked off Appalachian State 86-53 on Wednesday after dropping three in a row and is averaging 87.6 points over the last five contests.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ACC Network Extra
ABOUT HAMPTON (5-8): Senior guard Malique Trent-Street has averaged 16.5 points in two games since becoming eligible after a transfer from TCU, where he contributed 11.6 points per contest during the 2015-16 season. Sophomore guard Jermaine Marrow tops the team in scoring (19.0) and assists (6.5) after posting his second double-double of the season against Appalachian State. Junior guard Kalin Fisher chips in with 12.4 points a game for the Pirates, starting just four times, while sophomore guard Greg Heckstall (9.5 points, 6.3 rebounds) also has been productive.
ABOUT VIRGINIA (10-1): Sophomore point guard Ty Jerome registered a career-high 17 points against Savannah State, draining 3-of-3 from 3-point range and turning the ball over just once. “I think I just do a disservice to this team, especially against better competition, if I’m not aggressive,” Jerome told reporters. “. … That could be impacting the game in a lot of different ways, whether it be on the defensive end, the offensive end, or finding the right guys at the right time.” Sophomore guard Kyle Guy was held to eight points Tuesday, but leads the team in scoring (16.2).
1. The Cavaliers are 8-0 all-time against Hampton, including an 81-45 victory in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
2. Virginia F Mamadi Diakite scored in double figures (10) for the third time this season Tuesday and Salt had a season-best 10.
3. Virginia is 27-0 all-time against members of the MEAC as it plays its second team in a row from the league.
PREDICTION: Virginia 78, Hampton 56