CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. — Ty Jerome scored a career-high 17 points to lead No. 13 Virginia to a 78-47 drubbing of Savannah State on Tuesday night at John Paul Jones Arena.
Jerome’s 17 points came after he totaled just 14 in his previous three games combined.
“He’s a neck up player as we say,” Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said of his sophomore. “He was sharp tonight and did a good job whenever he caught the ball in the zone. We always talk about finding an alternative scorer and Ty did a good job of that tonight.”
The Tigers were outmatched from the time they stepped off of the bus and went almost nine minutes in the second half without a point against the vaunted Virginia (10-1) defense.
Virginia shot 50 percent for the game and used a 19-0 run to seize control of the game after Savannah State (3-11) used a modest 6-0 spurt to open up the second half. It is the seventh time this season that the Cavaliers have shot at least 50 percent from the field. Forward Mamadi Diakite and center Jack Salt scored 10 points apiece for the Cavaliers.
“We talked about being really alert and ready, they (Savannah State) can hit threes quickly,” Bennett said. “It was the idea of not just being ready, but being good. I thought we got off to a solid start and we brought them out of their zone after getting off to the start that we did.”
Savannah State shot just 28 percent but got 22 points from forward John Grant, as all seven of his makes came from beyond the arc. The Tigers made 11 of their 37 3-point attempts after missing their first nine to open the game. Grant entered the game averaging just 3.3 points per game but scored 13 of his 22 points during a two-minute stretch late in the game.
“We don’t need to be in the ACC, I’m glad that’s our last game in that conference,” Savannah State head coach Horace Broadnax said jokingly after the loss. “It’s tough against anybody to have that start that we did tonight and I tried to get our guys to be loose but there is a difference between the MEAC and the ACC and that showed tonight.”
The Tigers are in the midst of a stretch where they play seven straight road games including three against nationally ranked teams.
Savannah State entered the game being outrebounded by an average of 15 per game and were once against dominated on the boards against Virginia. The Cavaliers tallied 42 rebounds and got 15 second-chance points while the Tigers pulled down 31 rebounds.
“It’s funny to me that (Tony) scored all of those points in college and is now a defensive madman,” Broadnax said of his opposition. “His team plays well, they don’t get out of spots and they are always in defensive position. It was a good lesson for our team.”
Virginia scored the first 12 points of the game before galloping out to a 21-4 advantage midway through the first half. The Cavaliers led 42-21 at the halftime break after shooting 52 percent during the first 20 minutes of play.
“We tried to play a lot of guys and give different guys looks and opportunities,” Bennett said. “I think the starters did a good job and sometimes we weren’t as sharp when guys came off of the bench, but they are valuable minutes of opportunities for those guys.”
Bennett played 13 guys in the win with 11 of those players scoring at least two points. Virginia’s bench outscored Savannah State’s bench 34-31 and the Cavaliers got 36 points in the paint while recording seven blocks.
Virginia will host Hampton on Friday night while Savannah State will continue a seven-game road trip against Michigan State on Dec. 31.
NOTES: Virginia averages the fewest possessions in the country (60.9) while Savannah St. ranks first in the country (84.4). ... Savannah St. has allowed 100+ points in eight games this season. ... Virginia has shot 50 percent or better in seven games this season. ... This marks the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Virginia is now 102-6 when scoring at least 70 points under head coach Tony Bennett.