Virginia tries to avoid looking ahead to a major top 25 showdown when the 15th-ranked Cavaliers host battle-tested Lehigh on Saturday afternoon. Unbeaten Virginia held an opponent under 50 points for the fourth time in seven games Monday with a 49-37 victory over Wisconsin as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and visits No. 19 West Virginia next Tuesday.
The Cavaliers lead the nation in scoring defense (50.1) after holding Wisconsin to 31.3 percent shooting from the field and 3-of-20 from 3-point range while forcing 14 turnovers. “It’s a small sample size,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett told the Daily Progress. “They’re playing hard. Collectively defensively, they’re trying to really be hard to score against. We’re just playing the best way we can.” The Cavaliers are evolving while getting results and senior guard Devon Hall, who averaged 17 points the last two games, told reporters “we are still in the midst of trying to forge our identity as a team this early in the season, so we are trying to make sure everybody is on the same page in terms of knowing what type of team we are.” Lehigh, which has two overtime wins, knocked off Princeton 85-76 on Wednesday after dropping games at Pittsburgh and No. 18 USC.
TV: Noon ET, ACC Network Extra
ABOUT LEHIGH (4-3): Junior guard Lance Tejada rebounded from a rough game against Pitt to score a team-high 18 in the victory over Princeton - recording four 3-pointers to push his total to 21-of-45 from behind the arc in 2017-18. Tejada leads three players scoring in double figures at 15.6 per contest while 5-11 senior guard Kahron Ross (13.0 points, team-high 5.1 assists) and junior guard Kyle Leufroy (12.7, 6.1 rebounds) have also contributed. Sophomore forward Pat Andree averages 9.6 points, but is just 5-of-20 from the field the last three games.
ABOUT VIRGINIA (7-0): Sophomore guard Kyle Guy continues to lead the way, averaging 16 points and draining 15-for-35 from behind the arc, but he knows the Cavaliers have plenty of options on offense. “If I’m having an off-shooting night, someone else can go get a bucket - (Hall) has been very consistent,” Guy told reporters. “I think we have a lot of people who can score and when we find our identity, we’ll be a little smoother.” Hall has pushed his scoring average to 11.9 and senior forward Isaiah Wilkins contributes 7.9 points and a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
1. Virginia senior G Nigel Johnson, a transfer from Rutgers, went 0-for-6 from the floor against Wisconsin after scoring a season-high 12 in the previous game.
2. Lehigh’s 6-9 freshman C James Karnik recorded his first career double-double against Pittsburgh (14 points, 10 boards) and averages 6.9 rebounds.
3. The Cavaliers are making 81.4 percent of their free throws - fourth in the country entering Thursday - and Hall is 20-of-21 from the line.
PREDICTION: Virginia 66, Lehigh 52