Dave Leitao’s team jumped out to a 22-2 lead and cruised to a 41-point win.
While things in Charlottesville got progressively slicker outside of the John Paul Jones Arena on Tuesday night, thanks to a winter storm, there was no chance of a slip up inside the building. The Cavaliers made sure of that in a hurry, opening up a 22-2 lead less than seven minutes into the game before sprinting to a 90-49 victory.
Of course, anything less than a blowout would have been disappointing. The Hoos have posted a 13-1 record in the JPJ and 10 of those victories have been by double digits. In other words, the Lancers had little hope of keeping the score respectable, much less close or winnable.
“Based on what happened Saturday the team wanted to try to get back to playing basketball the way we’ve been trying to play all year long,” Virginia coach Dave Leitao said. “We got up 22-2 and the most difficult part of the game was to have the guys not watch the scoreboard, to not know that they were going to win, and still find the motivation enough to play defense the way we’re capable of. We did a decent job of that tonight.”
One player that helped the Cavaliers jump out to a fast start was Sean Singletary , who hit a quartet of 3-pointers in the first 5:20. One came off of a guard-to-guard screen and roll, one came in transition, and one came against an unsettled defense on the tail end of a fastbreak.
Sean Singletary made 5 of 10 3-pointers on Tuesday.
The return of Singletary’s shooting touch – at least in the early going – has to be somewhat encouraging to Hoo fans regardless of the opponent. In his last five games, Singletary made just one 3-pointer on three separate occasions. The two games where he shot the 3-ball well in terms of percentage (4 of 6 vs. Miami and 3 of 6 at Virginia Tech), he still seemed out of his rhythm at times.
Singletary made 5 of 10 trifectas Tuesday.
“I really don’t think too much into the stats, I just do my normal routine and try to get as many shots up during the week as I can,” Singletary said. “Some shots are off for a day. I just get back in the gym the next day and work at it.”
One of the other storylines in the easy win was an expected one: extended minutes for some of the Cavaliers’ reserves. That allowed Ryan Pettinella to continue working his way back from knee surgery. It also gave valuable experience to freshmen Solomon Tat , Will Harris , Jamil Tucker , and Jerome Meyinsse . Even seldom used walk-ons Andy Burns (made 3-pointer, 1 block), Damin Altizer, and Bob McCormick got in the action.
Some of those players showed flashes of their potential roles down the stretch of this season and where future development could take them. Two inside guys probably caught some fans’ eyes – after all, there have been limited opportunities to see Tucker and Meyinsse in action.
“It shouldn’t have to be at this time of year that we’re getting guys minutes to get them more experience and get their feet under them, but it’s something you need to do,” Leitao said of playing the overmatched Lancers at this point in the season. “Having played it, if it means Solomon is more confident – this is the second game in a row that’s he’s played extended minutes – or Jamil as well and they [were able to] work out some kinks, then hopefully that means our bench will be stronger as we get toward the tail end of the season and then that will mean it was a good night to play later [in the season].”
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