The Virginia men’s basketball team spent 10 days away from the practice court and 17 days between games due to COVID-19.
Even with the pause, the Wahoos showed no signs of rust in their 76-40 victory over William & Mary on Tuesday afternoon at John Paul Jones Arena.
“They’re probably gonna say, ‘See, coach, practice is overrated,’” head coach Tony Bennett joked.
No. 16 UVa (4-1) jumped out to a 17-6 lead through the first eight minutes, outscoring W&M (2-3) with four different players slamming home dunks.
The lead grew throughout the first half, with a quick seven points from Trey Murphy III putting the Wahoos up 26-6 with 7:20 left in the opening half.
Kihei Clark, who started for the Cavaliers at point guard, scored six points in the first few minutes and looked strong for the Cavaliers. Clark finished the game with six points, four assists and a pair of steals.
Defensively, Virginia showed promise.
William & Mary ended the first half with just 14 points, marking the second time this season that the Wahoos have held an opponent to fewer than 15 points. Saint Francis scored just 13 points in the first half of its game with Virginia earlier this season.
The Cavaliers entered halftime with a 36-14 advantage.
Bennett likely wasn’t thrilled with the defensive effort in the opening minutes of the second half. William & Mary scored 11 points in the first five minutes of the second half after tallying just 14 points in the entire first half.
Fortunately for Bennett and his squad, the offense remained dynamic and the defense settled in later in the half. Sam Hauser chipped in on both ends and Jay Huff was too much for the Tribe to handle in the low post. Kadin Shedrick also logged productive minutes down low.
Huff finished with nine points, four rebounds and three blocks in 21 minutes. Shedrick chipped in 10 points and six rebounds in just 13 minutes on the court. Murphy led all scorers with 15 points.
Virginia led 50-27 at the under-12 timeout, increasing its first-half lead by a point in the first eight minutes of the second half. Even when William & Mary found a few baskets, it couldn’t do much to stop the Cavaliers from scoring at will.
When the Cavaliers were engaged, they looked solid.
“I think for this generation, sustained focus is an issue,” Bennett said. “Good teams are focused. They’re concentrated. Their effort is good in practice in the little things. There’s an execution-based mindset that has to continue to step up for this team to reach its full potential.”
The second half featured little to no drama, with the game seemingly decided for the entire half. In the end, UVa took down William & Mary by 36 points, nearly doubling the Tribe’s scoring output in the process. The 40 points allowed is UVa’s best mark of this season.
In its first game action since the beginning of December, UVa looked the part of a top-20 team. The defense executed and the offense attacked the basket, resulting in a commanding win over an overmatched in-state foe.
“It was difficult at first to come in after 10 days, but it was a lot easier than I thought it would be,” Shedrick said. “It felt like we hadn’t missed that much.”