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UVa Men's Basketball Beats UNC-Greensboro 60-48 in Season Opener

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The Cavaliers beat UNC-Greensboro 60-48 in their season opener The Cavaliers beat UNC-Greensboro 60-48 in their season opener

University of Virginia Athletics Media Release

Virginia 60, UNCG 48

Friday, Nov. 10, 2017

John Paul Jones Arena

Team Notes

• Virginia won its fifth consecutive season opener and eighth under head coach Tony Bennett

• The Cavaliers opened their season with a win over UNC Greensboro for the second consecutive year after beating the Spartans 76-51 on the road to open last season

• Virginia held UNC Greensboro 29.4 percent shooting from the floor, marking the first time UVA has held an opponent under 30% since Robert Morris (23.9%) on Dec. 17, 2016

• Virginia took the lead less than a minute into the game and did not give it up, holding the lead or a tie for the last 39:11 of the game

• Virginia improved to 19-1 in its last 20 season-opening games

• UVA is 65-2 when holding its opponents to fewer than 50 points under Bennett

Player Notes

• De’Andre Hunter made his collegiate debut

• Nigel Johnson (7 points) made his UVA debut after playing at Rutgers last season

• Kyle Guy set career highs in free throws (8) and steals (3)

• Ty Jerome tied a career high in minutes (28)

• Isaiah Wilkins had a game-high three blocked shots

Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett Quotes

On the teams struggles tonight:

“First of all, Greensboro is a physical team. Offensively, they run their stuff very hard. You have to work to guard them. We had stretches of really good defense but defensively, they make you work. Nothing came easy, really on the defensive end or on the offensive end. Both teams were really going at it. They ran a couple tricky actions and got some easy baskets but otherwise, there wasn’t much there. In stretches in our scrimmages, we would have some times where we couldn’t get the looks we wanted, but also, we had some good stretches. It was part of adjusting. I liked what I saw in stretches. There are certain areas where, of course, we have to clean up. But when you look at the stat sheet, you see the turnovers in the second half. I think we got a little anxious. We were in a good spot, up 16 or 17, and we just need to let the offense work and get sound shots, the shot you want. I think you can put yourself in a good spot but we always either had a quick shot, a forced shot or a turnover. They’re capable and so we couldn’t get a defensive rebound and started fouling a little bit. I think those things showed up and we have got to really go to work on those areas. But, that is what happens when you are playing a solid team with some veterans and we are still a young team and finding who we are.”

On the play of sophomore guards Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome:

“I thought Ty settled in. I thought that early he needed to be a little sounder. He wasn’t quite there offensively. He took a couple of longs shots. But once he settled down, he made some good plays and I felt like we were close to, not breaking the game open, but we were a few possessions from really imposing what we wanted to do. But I thought that Ty settled in, at least the tape will always reveal that. And Kyle kept us in there, moving hard and getting to the line. Kyle had not practiced since our Villanova scrimmage, he had hurt his back, so I am glad he could get out there. He just did a little bit yesterday. That was good to see him out there being aggressive. We have got to get ourselves situated. Devon [Hall] is going to have to have a big role, and I thought that he was efficient, if a little loose at times turning it over, but those are things we can tie together.”

On Nigel Johnsons play tonight:

“I think Nigel brings a new dimension with his quickness, when he touches the paint. He had a nice drive for us, guarded the ball, he did some nice things for us. I think he is just getting more and more used to it. I like, of course, when he gets the rebound and pushes but then sometimes when he is flying of screens or then using his quickness to get a shot or touch the paint, I think he can help us that way too. He just gave us a dimension that I felt like we needed and he had a couple of big baskets for us late.”

On the changing offense this year:

“We have to keep working. This is a newer team, our experienced guys are the Jack Salt’s and Isaiah Wilkins’ and of course Devon [Hall], who have been in more of a supportive role. Now they’re taking a little bit bigger role. It was good to see Jack with a couple of jump hooks and making his free throws. There were a couple of good things there. I mean, we got to the line more. But with the new guys, it is going to be a process. And hopefully they’ll get more and more comfortable and know when to be assertive and know when to let it come. That was a balance that was lacking at time by a lot of guys tonight.”

On the rotation tonight:

“It was a game where Marco Anthony and Jay Huff didn’t get in. I told them after the game, stay ready. They are going to get their chances. I just went with this rotation because their bigs could really step up and shoot. They had a lot of screen actions going on so you had to really be sharp with helping on screens because number 12 could come off. And we wanted guys with a little more experience and quickness right now to help our guards. They’ll have some opportunities.”

On benefits of early season tests:

“Like I said, I have a lot of respect for Greensboro. Last year, they were a heck of a team. They lost a couple of players but they got everyone else, 11 guys, back. What they did last year, they ran their stuff hard and purposeful and that is a credit to Wes [Miller]. They guarded hard and I knew we would have to play. We faltered a little bit down the stretch when we could have put them away, but I think a lot of games, we’re going to have to forge our identity and finish a little better because the competition is always great.”

UNC Greensboro Head Coach Wes Miller

Opening statement:

“First off, I really like my team. I hope we shoot it a little better moving forward but I thought we played hard and played with good effort. We beat them on the glass which I think is something to take away from this. We turned it over a lot and we didn’t make many shots, and I think that is a credit to Virginia’s team. We played Virginia last year to open the year and we didn’t play with them at all. The game got away from us early and stayed away from us, so I was proud that we were able to find a way to dig back in there in the second half and cut it to eight. We learned a lot from playing against Tony’s team last year because of the way they guard and I think it will be something we can learn from this year because we aren’t that bad shooting the ball and turning it over, I just think their defense is that good. Hopefully, we can take some things and show our guys. I know our guys in the locker room agreed that they are a good defensive team. Tony has a terrific team and he does a terrific job, I don’t ever want to schedule him again. The last two years haven’t been very fun. I appreciate him being willing to come down and play us and us returning and coming up here. It is neat for us and for our program, and other than the outcome I think our kids have enjoyed the experience.”

On using Virginia’s defense as an example:

“The style is different. They imposed their will on us style-wise tonight. I called more plays than I’ll ever want to call in a season because we couldn’t figure out how to score and the game was played in the 40s and 50s and they barely got to 60. What we will take from their defense is the way they are active with their hands. They make every pass difficult because of their ball pressure and how active their hands are, and their positioning. They very rarely are out of position. Those will be the two things we focus on in the film to try and learn from, but I think it helped because you can tell kids for six weeks in practice to keep their hands active and to be in great position, but now you can ask why it was so hard to score against Virginia and the answer will be because their hands were crazy and they were in great position, and we can learn from that.”

On the matchup with Kyle Guy and changes in the second half:

“I thought we did a great job guarding him in the first half. We looked like we were prepared to guard it and we executed the way that we tried to guard it in our practices. In the second half, I didn’t like our teams’ defensive energy. I just didn’t think we were as into it away from our bench as we were in the first half. I saw a lot more separation with all their guards coming off of their baseline pin downs and that put us in a world of trouble. I think it could have been a lot worse if they hadn’t dropped a couple under the rim.”

On the development of Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome:

“Guy played great against us last year as a freshman, and I am a junkie and I follow his basketball close. He had a great second half to his freshman year. They’re going to be great players here and they already are great players. We wanted to really pressure them and we wanted our ball pressure to maybe take them out of their game a little bit. I thought at times it was effective but they handled it really really well. I thought Ty did a great job at using his size against our smaller, quicker guys at times to put his body deep in the paint.”

Virginia Guard Kyle Guy

On his aggressiveness:

“As everyone saw, I was a little more aggressive this year than last. Coach has been on me all offseason to shoot the ball whenever I’m open and try to create for myself and others, and that’s what I tried to do.”

On the offense as a whole:

“Overall, I think our offense wasn’t as it could have been. We had 12 turnovers. It didn’t flow. We had a lot of shots just thrown up because there was only four seconds left, so we’ll work on that and come back better Monday.”

On how he felt defensively:

“I felt much more confident. I was a little scared last year just because I didn’t want to make a mistake and have to sit on the bench. Part of it’s experience, and if I make a mistake I can stay on the floor and try to make up for it and just try to be at the right place at the right time.”

Virginia Guard Nigel Johnson

On playing his first game as a Virginia player:

“It was great, especially getting to play in front of the home team fans and get the first one out of the way was great. It was a pretty good experience, now that I got the first one out of the way, I feel like I can get settled in a little bit and just play basketball from here on out.”

On playing UNC Greensboro as the first game:

“Coach Bennett has been preaching to us all week on how UNC Greensboro is a good team and how they won 25+ games last year and went to the NIT, so we knew coming in that they were going to be a pretty good team.”

Virginia Sophomore Guard Ty Jerome

On his role on this year’s team:

“Just run the show and control the game, which I should have done a better job of tonight, especially in the first half. Knock down shots when they’re there and just make sure the offense is flowing, which it didn’t tonight. Well, it did in stretches in the second half, but not how it should have been.”

On the state of Virginia’s defense:

“It was solid tonight, again in stretches, but not where it needs to be for 40 minutes. We got hurt on a few back screens, a few miscommunications, but we’ll watch film, we’ll get better. I think it was pretty good tonight, obviously, the film will tell us more.”

On free throw shooting:

“Yeah, I was happy. Jack [Salt] was 4-4 from the line, so that was awesome, he really works on that. But, I think people were being just more aggressive this year. Isaiah [Wilkins], as you can see, added a new dimension to his game, so he’ll be at the line more. Devon [Hall] is going to keep being aggressive, and I think we’ll all just being aggressive and making that a priority to get to the paint. When we get to the paint, good things happen.”

Virginia Guard Devon Hall

On how Guy and Jerome played and the role you see them play:

“Both of them just need to stay aggressive. They can make a lot of plays for us, so it’s up to them this season to stay aggressive and make plays. They’re really good at doing that. Kyle knocks shots down and Ty, even though he didn’t shoot it well tonight, he is a really good shooter so it’s just a matter of moving on to the next game and both of them staying aggressive.”

On being tested:

“I think it was absolutely great to be tested, the schedule is designed like that. We are playing the ACC and they’re a good team. They won 25 games last year.”

On how normal it is to take a game or two to adjust:

“I think it is a matter of going back to the drawing board after each and every game and learning. You find out what our strengths and weaknesses are and try to learn from them.”

On the pressure from UNC Greensboro:

I think when teams like that try to pressure you, you have to use the bounce a little more and try and get in the lane a little more to make plays. I think we started to do that and at first we were a little but stagnant with it and we kind of made adjustments of being more aggressive.”

Virginia Forward Isaiah Wilkins

On the execution of the guys who haven’t played as much:

“I think we played hard. I think we had really good defense in the stretches. Practice is obviously different than the game. So, we take this game and we learn from it and we get ready for Monday.”