Nov. 25, 2016
NICEVILLE, Fla. (AP) Stifling defense, as usual, carried the day again for No. 7 Virginia as the Cavaliers cruised to their fifth straight win.
Jerred Reuter led a well-balanced scoring attack with 14 points, but it was that trademark defense that set the tone for a 74-41 victory over Iowa on Friday night in the semifinals of the Emerald Coast Classic.
''It's what we do,'' said London Perrantes, who added 12 points and led the Cavaliers with four assists. ''We work on defense every single day in practice. We know what we have to do to win games.''
The Cavaliers (5-0) will play for the tournament title on Saturday against Providence, which beat Memphis 60-51 in the other semifinal.
Offense, though, took a back seat as it often does whenever Virginia plays.
The Cavaliers began the day leading the nation in scoring defense by holding opponents to 38.8 points per game.
Iowa (3-2) barely bested that average, led by Peter Jok's 13 points.
''They really are a great example of five guys playing as one,'' Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. ''They're in the gaps, they're fighting the post, they close off penetration.''
The Hawkeyes shot only 31.3 percent from the field including 26.1 percent from 3-point range.
The Cavaliers hit 48.3 percent from the field including 47.1 percent on 3s.
''You could see they had some inexperience, just like we do,'' Virginia coach Tony Bennett said of Iowa. ''They're still coming together and finding themselves.''
Iowa opened the scoring with two free throws by Nicholas Baer, but Virginia went on an 11-0 run that began with a 3-pointer by Thompson and the Hawkeyes never threatened again.
The win was the first for Virginia in only the third game between the schools. The previous meetings came in the 1997 NCAA Tournament's first round and the 2013 NIT quarterfinals.
Virginia is seeking its fourth straight regular-season tournament championship.
Virginia: The Cavaliers passed their first real test of the season on Black Friday after fattening up with four easy pre-Thanksgiving wins against UNC Greensboro, St. Francis, Brooklyn, Yale and Grambling State. They did it without Memphis transfer Austin Nichols, who was expected to provide low post scoring but was dismissed from the team for rules violations a week earlier. Now the going continues to get tougher with Memphis or Providence on Saturday and then Ohio State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday, followed by No. 19 West Virginia and East Carolina.
Iowa: The high-flying Hawkeyes, who had been averaging 96.2 points per game before Friday, crash landed against Virginia's defensive scheme.
The Hawkeyes considered it a learning experience going in and they'll quickly get a chance to see how well they grasped that lesson against Memphis, a proficient defensive team. Then it doesn't get any easier next week when Iowa plays at Notre Dame in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge on Tuesday.
Defeating Iowa will strengthen Virginia's Top 10 ranking as it marks the Cavaliers' first win against a major conference foe. Their No. 7 ranking is based on blowout wins against four much weaker opponents to open the season.
Virginia: The Cavaliers play for the tournament championship Saturday against Providence at Northwest Florida State College.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes play in the Emerald Coast consolation game Saturday against Memphis.
Cooper Thriving Under New StaffSwimming & Diving12/12/17A senior from Atlanta and one of the team's captains, Caitlin Cooper set the UVA women's record in the 50-yard freestyle early this month in Athens, Georgia.Hazzard Aiming to Uphold Family TraditionTrack & Field, Cross Country12/11/17A freshman from Long Island, New York, Halle Hazzard is the younger sister of Payton Hazzard, who was an All-America sprinter for the Cavaliers.UVA's Campbell Winners Share Special BondFootball12/6/17UVA is the only ACC school with multiple winners of the prestigious Campbell Trophy: Tom Burns in 1993 and Micah Kiser this year.
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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