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#18 UVa Men's Basketball Tops Lehigh 75-54

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UVa head coach Tony Bennett UVa head coach Tony Bennett
Senior Isaiah Wilkins had 14 points and six rebounds for UVa Senior Isaiah Wilkins had 14 points and six rebounds for UVa

University of Virginia Athletics Release

Virginia 75, Lehigh 54
Saturday, December 2, 2017
John Paul Jones Arena

Team Notes

• Virginia is now 100-6 when scoring 70 or more points under head coach Tony Bennett

• Virginia improved to 5-0 at home this season and is 155-40 all-time at JPJ

• UVA is now 3-0 against Lehigh

• This is the second time in four years UVA has started 8-0 under Tony Bennett (2014-15)

• Virginia has held opponents to under 50 percent shooting in every game this year

• Virginia held Lehigh scoreless for 4:50 in the first half, going on a 10-0 run

• The Cavaliers out-scored Lehigh 20-0 in the paint in the first half

• UVA had 11 points off nine turnovers in the first half, while only committing one

• Virginia has won by 10 or more points in seven of its eight games

• Virginia had a season-high 11 steals

Player Notes

• Double-figure scorers: Kyle Guy (21), Isaiah Wilkins (14), Devon Hall (11)

• Nigel Johnson set a career-high with eight assists

• Guy’s five three-pointers tied his career-high

• Isaiah Wilkins is now tied for ninth with Mike Tobey in all-time blocks with 101

• Mamadi Diakite tied a career-high with two steals

• Wilkins hit his first three-pointer of the season to reach 12 points

Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett

On Nigel Johnson’s performance:

“I mentioned after the Rhode Island game, in that game our veterans [including Night Johnson] played well. [Nigel Johnson] obviously being new here, his experience showed. He guarded a quick guard, and again, did a good job against Wisconsin. [Lehigh’s] Number one [Kahron Ross] is very quick. He is one of the quicker guys that we’ve gone up against and I thought he matched up well defensively. He made some nice plays, touched the paint, found people, obviously had a couple of alley-oops late, but that was good to see. He’s got the quickness and the speed that energizes us and again to guard that ball is really important. But to look at our 21 assists, six turnovers and eight assists, one turnover from him was nice to see.”

On transition offense from turnovers:

“Well you can tell Lehigh, I mean they’re hard to guard. I respect the job that coach [Brett Reed] does, they have good shooters, [Lance Tajada] played well, they’ll test you with those three quick guards. They put pressure, if you weren’t in the right spot, they’re going to let it fly, 10-of-24 from three showed that. I liked our defense in the first half, when we were setting back. I didn’t think it was great in the second half. I thought they got some easy looks and we weren’t as sharp as we could be. But points off transition, whether it’s offensive rebounds, turnovers, or getting to the line, those are really important. Tonight, we capitalized early, especially as the game was sort of back and forth, those turnovers turned into quick buckets for [Devon Hall], [Kyle Guy] and different guys and got some offensive rebounds on that.”

On preparation for West Virginia and different styles of play:

“Yeah, we’re playing a lot. I’ll start looking into West Virginia now. It’s at West Virginia, Coach Huggins is the coach, and I believe [Jevon Carter] is in his last year, who’s a heck of a player. They’re tough, they’re good, I know they put a lot of pressure on you so it’ll be another test. And again, it is a different style. When you play in a league with as many styles and teams as the ACC, I think it’s good. We’ve seen different looks, we’ve seen small ball at VCU, we’ve seen Wisconsin. I think that’s important for us as we go forward.”

Lehigh Head Coach Brett Reed 

On the turnovers and what gave Lehigh trouble:

“The University of Virginia is a renowned defensive team. From a national perspective, they are some of the best. Fortunately, for our team we have been able to take care of the basketball very well. The combination of Virginia’s length, their discipline for their floor spots and the fact that even on our penetration we weren’t able to turn the corner and get as deep as perhaps we normally would, led to a few more offensive miscues and a few more turnovers.”

On what makes Kyle Guy such a tough matchup:

“He has an unbelievably quick release, and he is able to turn and square his body in the air extremely well that compliments that release. It was also really impressive, the amount of effort he put in to his cuts, because when he takes a cut he sprints his cut to try and get that separation. As an opposing coach, when he has the ball and he is in that release, even if we do a pretty adequate job at challenging, it is a little bit difficult because there is a better chance than not that that ball is going to go through that basket. He is an excellent player surrounded by an excellent team that really works at it as a team. Kyle Guy doesn’t get the shots that he gets if it’s not for the screening of their post players and the delivery of the ball on time and on target. It’s a signature of Virginia basketball to be really well rounded, fundamental, with five guys helping each other not only on defense, but on offense as well.”

On what a game like this does for the team going forward:

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to learn and grow. We tried a couple different things out there today, but as you started to look at the way in which the game had progressed, it took me back to the first through maybe 10th practice. Of all the stuff we talked about, that we knew we needed to be really good at, that are foundational to our success. Because Virginia is able to do it so well, whether it’s offensive execution or defensive help, it kind of harkens you back like, ‘Remember we said this. Remember we have got to make a point of being really solid and under control for our execution.’ Fortunately for us, in the second half we were able to give a little bit more space to the basketball that resulted in pretty decent offensive execution for us in the second half. If it weren’t for a pretty sizable run towards the later part of the first half, where it really got some separation, and then even between the six-minute mark and the three-minute mark plus we probably had four really great looks that didn’t go down. If we made those shots we could kind of continue that run and inched back into the game.”

Virginia Guard Kyle Guy

On Lehigh’s 17 turnovers:

“I think it was just us playing a good defense. I mean, we had a lot of breakdowns but we tried to be in the gap and anticipate, which we work on every day in practice, and I think that showed tonight.”

On rematch with West Virginia next week:

“I remember the game very well. Yeah, they get after us and we’re just going to have to be stronger and take care of business.”

On Nigel Johnson’s contributions:

“Yeah, I think it showed his versatility, where he can score or pass, and he rebounded pretty well too.  So, when he can get in transition and make plays, that’s when he is at his best.”

On Coach Bennett’s conversation with him after the second foul:

“I told him I could be smart with two fouls and just to keep me in but he said, ‘You weren’t very smart on that foul.’”

Virginia Forward Isaiah Wilkins

On rematch with West Virginia next week:

“I don’t really remember that much from that game. I just remember that we lost. I know that they’re a physical team, they’re going to get after us, and it’s at WVU. We have to be ready to play and we have got to be secure with the ball and strong with the ball.”

On Nigel Johnson’s contributions:

“I was trying to put him in a lot of ball screens to see what the four man was going to do, and he was doing a great job of finding guys. He made some great passes, threw some great lobs, and it was cool.”

On scoring three straight buckets as a team on alley-oops and if the team’s ability to run the floor is an underappreciated part of the game:

“Oh, for real, it was three in a row? That’s amazing! No, I think it has been emphasized more this year. This year, we are trying to get out and run more with Nigel [Johnson], Devon [Hall] and Kyle [Guy] pushing the ball. So yeah, it’s been emphasized.”

Virginia Guard Nigel Johnson

On difference in assists today:

“Just being patient, I guess, sitting back and waiting for the defense to react and see what they did. I was trying to slow it down and see plays as they develop. That was probably the key.”

On playing West Virginia in his college career:

“I have played them four times, beat them twice and lost twice. I know exactly what they are going to do and that press style. Just stay patient, don’t let them overwhelm you. The trick for me for beating the press was to keep the ball in the middle. Do not let it get to the sides. When you get the ball on the sides, right near half court, that is when they really try to get a turnover. The trick for me was just to keep the ball in the middle.”

On playing in WVU’s arena:

“They get a little crazy in there, but I mean that’s what college basketball, and college sports are all about. It makes it a lot more fun to play. Especially when they start getting loud, and somebody makes a big bucket, just to quiet them all down, it’s a great sound. It’s pretty fun to play in there.”