Where would Virginia be without transfers Armaan Franklin and Jayden Gardner?
Certainly not the champions of the Legends Classic. In wins Monday and Tuesday over Georgia and Providence, Franklin and Gardner hit a combined 26 of 41 shots from the floor (63%), while their teammates made 17 of 57 tries (30%).
Virginia (4-2) will be looking for a more balanced attack Friday night when the Cavaliers take on visiting Lehigh (1-4) in Charlottesville.
While Indiana import Franklin and East Carolina transfer Gardner have been the offensive standouts for Virginia, other Cavaliers have been key at the other end of the floor.
In the two tournament wins, both by double-digit margins, Virginia limited opponents to 30% shooting from the floor and 14% from beyond the arc. Perhaps the best indicator that the Cavaliers are back to playing their distinctive brand of grind-it-out defense is that they gave up just five fastbreak points.
That shows vast improvement from their deflating losses to Navy and Houston, in which the Cavs allowed 54% shooting from beyond the arc, and indicates they have rediscovered their defensive prowess.
Kadin Shedrick was a particular menace in the title game, swatting five Providence shots.
“I thought early in the year we were a team that could be real sound and tough defensively,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “Then I second-guessed it maybe a little bit after the Navy game and in the Houston game, but now hopefully we can get it back on track.”
Lehigh enters on an uptick after winning for the first time this year, 79-72, Tuesday night over Columbia as Evan Taylor scored 18 points.
Jeameril Wilson and Marques Wilson (no relation) lead the Mountain Hawks, each averaging 12 points a game. Lehigh is a veteran squad, returning nearly intact from last year’s 4-11 team.
“The biggest thing we’re trying to help our guys understand is there’s a formula to win,” coach Brett Reed said after the victory. “There was defense. There was rebounding. There was energy.”
–Field Level Media