Norfolk State pays visit to No. 9 Virginia

Nov 16, 2014 - 4:32 PM Charlottesville, VA ( - The ninth-ranked Virginia Cavaliers take aim at their second win of the season, as they entertain the Norfolk State Spartans in a non-conference clash at John Paul Jones Arena.

Norfolk State also has a chance to earn its second win on Sunday, although it has a much more difficult task, taking on a top-10 team on the road. The Spartans did not face nearly the same challenge in Friday's opener, as they routed Division II Pfeiffer, 81-43. Norfolk State has won at least 19 games in each of the last three seasons, with the squad finishing 19-15 last season, the first under Robert Jones.

Virginia took a short trip for its season opener on Friday, as it battled in- state foe James Madison in Harrisonburg. Battled may be the wrong term, however, as the Cavaliers pulled away for a convincing 79-51 victory. They had a much-more impressive 2013-14 campaign than did the Spartans, finishing at 30-7, with an ACC title and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament being their reward.

When these teams met for the first time last season, Virginia pulled out a 66-56 win.

The difference in the level of competition between Norfolk State and Pfeiffer was clearly evident on Friday. The Spartans shot at a 47.5 percent pace and outscored their opponent, 27-3, from 3-point range. They also held a 35-26 edge on the boards, while forcing 23 turnovers.

Malik Thomas was the leading offensive option in the blowout victory, producing 14 points, despite a lackluster 5-of-13 shooting effort. Thomas showed no fear when it came to launching long-range shots, but he'll have to be more efficient going forward, as he made just 1-of-7 3-point attempts. Thomas was one of four players to score in double figures in the victory, with Jeff Short (12 points), D'Shon Taylor (10) and RaShid Gaston (10) also getting in on the action. Short finished with five rebounds, four assists and three steals as well. Devonte Banner made an impact from his spot in the starting lineup as well, finishing with seven points on 3-of-5 shooting to go along with six assists.

Virginia's calling card last season was it's impenetrable defense. The Cavs picked up right where they left off in the opener against JMU, limiting the Dukes to 28.3 percent shooting. The Cavaliers also had 11 steals and seven blocked shots, as well as claiming a 38-27 advantage in rebounds.

Justin Anderson was one of three players to score in double figures for Virginia against JMU, finishing with a game-high 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including a 4-of-5 effort from 3-point range. Anthony Gill posted 15 points in the victory, although he had just a single rebound in addition. Malcolm Brogdon managed to connect on 5-of-9 shots for 14 points, while handing out four assists. Devon Hall didn't make much of a dent in terms of scoring (five points), but he notched five steals. Mike Tobey blocked a pair of shots and had six points to go with as many rebounds, while Darion Atkins ripped down 10 boards in 29 minutes off the bench. The list of contributors should grow on Sunday, as London Perrantes and Evan Nolte will be back after serving suspensions for the opener.

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