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Virginia showing marked inconsistency

SoVaNow.com / November 14, 2012
Virginia basketball has shown some inconsistency early, but the Cavaliers should get stronger as certain key players return to the lineup.

Virginia fell to Delaware Tuesday in NIT season tip-off action at home. As a result, Virginia will host the consolation rounds on Nov. 19-20 by failing to sweep the first two rounds.

Virginia downed Fairfield Monday night, but could not complete the early two-game NIT sweep after losing to Delaware on Tuesday.

Virginia struggled on offense in its 59-53 loss.

Virginia’s 15 points in the first half points were its fewest in a half since scoring 15 vs. Iowa State on Dece. 30, 2010.

Virginia’s 22.2 percent field goal percentage in the first half was its lowest since shooting 22.2 percent in the second half at N.C. State on Jan. 28, 2012.

Virginia has trailed at the half in each of its first three games, including a close season opening loss at George Mason.

Jontel Evans, an all-ACC defensive team member last season, returned to action after missing the first two games with an injury. Virginia also hopes to get Malcolm Brogdon back to full swing soon to stabilize the backcourt.

Virginia was hampered by a poor start against Delaware. The Cavaliers also struggled offensively before finally putting Fairfield away on Monday.

Cavalier head coach Tony Bennett addressed Virginia’s cold start on Tuesday. “Yeah, that’s a good question. The way we started was very hard to dig out of. When shots aren’t falling guys get a little panicky and we stopped almost running offense. The first chance the guy got he tried to squirt one up and it didnVt look like anything we tried to work on.

“I thought we were terrific defensively. We were great for about 10 minutes. We talked about this before, but when you’re struggling to score that puts a lot of pressure on your defense and they have some guys that are very talented off the dribble and can do some things and they really extended the lead. There weren’t really any answers out there when you look at first half shooting and the productivity in other areas.”

Evans’ return is important for the Cavaliers.

“The doctors cleared him and said no more than 10 minutes. He wanted to just get his feet wet, he obviously was a bit rusty, but see if that helps him as we progress. I thought it was going to be a little later but a few minutes certainly didn’t hurt him. I hope he can do more and more as we get going because that’s going to mean something for us.”

Virginia missed an opportunity to play higher levels of competition in the NIT season tip-off in Madison Square Garden, but Bennett tried to put that issue in perspective.

“You have to grow from it and it’s not the end of the world, but it’s an opportunity that would’ve been great for our young team. It would have been a great experience to play and we’ll have plenty of other opportunities to play against high-quality teams, but that’s a special privilege and you have to earn it and Delaware earned it.”

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