Charlottesville, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - The third-ranked Virginia Cavaliers will close out their non-conference slate on Tuesday evening, as they play host to the Davidson Wildcats at the John Paul Jones Arena.
Tony Bennett's Cavaliers are one of six unbeatens left in college basketball and were last in action back on Dec. 21. That proved to be one of the most dominant performances of the season, as Virginia absolutely destroyed Harvard, in a lopsided 76-27 decision. With the win over the Crimson, Virginia has now won 17 straight games at home and moved to 11-0 on the year, the team's best start since 1992-93.
Bob McKillop's Wildcats are off to a pretty good start in their own right. Davidson has suffered just one defeat on the season and that came on Nov. 22 at nationally-ranked North Carolina (90-72). Since then the team has reeled off seven straight wins and moved to 9-1 overall with an 80-68 win over the College of Charleston last time out.
Virginia holds an 11-4 advantage in the series with Davidson and has won seven straight over the Wildcats, including last year's 70-57 victory at TWC Arena. Davidson hasn't posted a win in this series since 1974.
Strong offensive performances have been the norm for Davidson this season, as the team generates 87.7 ppg to rank third nationally. The Wildcats shoot the ball extremely well at a 48.3-percent clip and that continues beyond the arc, where the team hits 41.4 percent of the time. In addition, Davidson has done a great job on the boards and boasts of a +9.1 rebounding margin. There is plenty of scoring depth, as four Wildcats are currently averaging double figures. Tyler Kalinoski leads the way with his 16.1 ppg. Jack Gibbs is hot on his trail with 15.6 ppg and also serves as the team's top distributor (5.0 apg). Peyton Aldridge and Jordan Barham close out the potent quartet with 12.4 and 10.8 ppg, respectively.
Davidson was able to distance itself in the first half against the College of Charleston thanks to an 18-of-32 effort from the floor (.563), as the Wildcats took a 41-33 lead into the break. The team cooled off in the second half, but was able to keep the Cougars at bay to earn the win. Aldridge and Gibbs were sensational in the win. Aldridge nearly had a double-double with 22 points and nine rebounds, while Gibbs did complete the feat with 19 points and 11 boards. Barham finished the game with 14 points off the bench.
Virginia is known for its defensive play, but the team took that to a new level against Harvard, as the Cavaliers tied the NCAA record in the shot-clock era by allowing just one field goal to the Crimson in the first half. The eight points allowed in the first half were the fewest allowed by Virginia in the shot-clock era as well. Meanwhile, the Cavs got it done offensively, shooting a scorching .596 from the floor in the game, including a .615 effort in the first half. Mike Tobey and Malcolm Brogdon led the team with 15 points apiece. Tobey completed a double-double 10 rebounds, while Brogdon doled out six assists.
Virginia very well may be the best defensive team in the country and that is saying a lot with the numbers top-ranked Kentucky is throwing out there. The Cavaliers currently lead the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 46.2 ppg, while holding foes to an anemic .310 shooting. The team also ranks in the top five in the country in rebounding margin (+14.2). Junior guard Justin Anderson is having a strong season offensively, averaging 15.1 ppg, while shooting .563 from the floor, including a ridiculous .600 from behind the arc (24-of-40). Brogdon (13.1 ppg) and Anthony Gill (12.1 ppg) round out the top scoring options on the roster.