SC State faces tall task in bout with No. 9 Virginia

Nov 18, 2014 - 3:48 PM Charlottesville, VA ( - The ninth-ranked Virginia Cavaliers continue their four-game homestand at John Paul Jones Arena on Tuesday night when they take on the South Carolina State Bulldogs.

This marks the third straight road contest for SC State to begin the season, and the first two did not go so well. The Bulldogs lost their opener at Washington last Friday, 77-59, then were blown out by San Francisco on Sunday (91-52) before coming back east to Charlottesville with just one day rest.

Virginia, meanwhile, has lived up to its billing as the No. 9 team in the nation in the early going with two straight convincing wins. The Cavaliers beat intrastate rival James Madison on the road on Friday, 79-51, and took care of business at home versus Norfolk State on Sunday, 67-39. They have won 12 straight at JPJ Arena, with 11 of those victories coming by double digits.

The Cavaliers beat the Bulldogs in the only previous meeting between the squads in November of 2011, 75-38.

The Bulldogs played poorly on both ends of the floor in their 39-point setback to USF, as they were outshot from the field by an embarrassing margin, 58.1 percent to 29 percent. The only player to score in double figures in the loss was Karon Wright with 13 points. Darryl Palmer shot just 1-of-10 from the field for four points but chipped in eight rebounds and three blocks. SC State has yet to find its rhythm offensively, as it is shooting a mere 31.1 percent from the field through two games for 55.5 ppg. Despite playing just 18.5 minutes per game, Wright leads the way in scoring with 13.5 ppg. Edward Stephens (8.5 ppg) is expected to score more if he can improve his woeful field goal percentage (.273), and Greg Mortimer (8.0 ppg) and Palmer (6.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg) will also figure prominently in the rotation.

Although Virginia endured a back-and-forth tussle with Norfolk State for the first six minutes of its latest contest, it quickly took control by going into halftime with a 42-22 lead and cruised from there to the 28-point victory. It was a modest field goal shooting night for the squad (.434), but it didn't matter much as it forced Norfolk State into more turnovers (13) than field goals (12). Justin Anderson and Mike Tobey paced the scoring effort with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Anthony Gill was solid up front with nine points, eight rebounds and three blocks, while five others scored at least five points. The Cavaliers' dominance in the first week of the season has resulted in a staggering +28.0 scoring margin while they outshoot their opponents from the floor, 50.5 percent to 26.0 percent. Anderson (14.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg) has started the season hot from 3-point range (7-of-10). Gill (12.0 ppg), Malcolm Brogdon (10.0 ppg, 3.5 apg), Darion Atkins (8.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Tobey (8.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg) are also off to impressive starts.

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