It’s still only November, but so far, No. 5 Virginia has been propelled by no-light shooting rather than its brand defense.
The Cavaliers (4-0) are averaging 79.5 points per game ahead of Friday night’s meeting with Maryland Eastern Shore (2-3) in Charlottesville, Virginia. That total is significantly higher than last season’s 62.4 points, which finished 342nd out of 358 Division I schools.
Scoring averages are notable, as the Cavaliers are 42-1 when they score 80 or more points and 147-11 when they score 70+ points under head coach Tony Bennett.
Virginia shoots 46.9 percent from 3-point range and ranks fifth this season out of 363 schools that come into play Thursday. Reece Beekman and Isaac McKneely both shoot 50 percent (6 of 12), followed by Kihei Clark at 46.7 percent (7 of 15), Ben Vander Plas at 46.2 percent (6 of 13) and Armaan Franklin at 45.5 percent (10 out of 22). ).
The Cavaliers batted 33 shots from 3-point ranges in their first three games before clinching Sunday’s 70-61 win over then-No. 19 Illinois in championship play at the Continental Tire Main Event in Las Vegas.
Beekman posted a game-high 17 points against the Illini and was named tournament MVP after averaging 13.5 points, 6.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals in wins against then-No. 5 Baylor and Illinois. On Monday, the junior guard was named Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week.
The Cavaliers’ success in Las Vegas capped a difficult week that began with the shooting of three Virginia football players on campus.
“We went through so many different emotions,” Beekman said, according to The Athletic. “Having all that in mind was a real motivation. We know the fans at home expect a lot of things from us. We want to continue to shine for them.”
Virginia has earned 11 spots in the Associated Press’s top 25 this week and is looking to avoid disappointment Friday night against the visiting Hawks of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Maryland Eastern Shore on Tuesday in Princess Anne, Md.
The Hawks kept the Red Foxes from 3-point range on 6 of 27 shots (22.2 percent), an effort they will have to repeat against red-hot Virginia. Opponents shoot from distance just 26.7 percent for the season.
“I was excited to see our guys follow the game plan and perform against a MAAC-level team,” said Hawks coach Jason Crafton. “Not only is it a great win for our program, it’s a great win for our league. Any time we’re up against teams that many consider to be a high-profile conference, it’s always good to get a win and take care of business at home.”
Nathaniel Pollard Jr. led UMES with a career-high 20 points and eight rebounds, with Da’Shawn Phillip giving 15 points and Chace Davis adding 10. Zion Styles, who leads the team with 12.8 points per game, struggled badly and was held to eight points against Marist.
–Field level media