The Virginia men’s basketball team opens its 2008-09 season on Sunday (Nov. 16) when the Cavaliers host VMI at John Paul Jones Arena. The game is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. and tickets are still available at a cost of $15 each.
Comcast SportsNet will televise Sunday’s Virginia-VMI game.
Virginia has 11 lettermen, including three starters, returning from last year’s 17-16 team that reached the semifinals of the inaugural College Basketball Invitational. The returning starters included senior guard/forward Mamadi Diane, sophomore guard Jeff Jones and sophomore forward Mike Scott.
The Cavaliers are coming off an 87-52 victory over Shepherd University in an exhibition game on Nov. 9. Virginia’s starting lineup for that game consisted of junior guard Calvin Baker, sophomore guard Mustapha Farrakhan, Diane, Scott and senior center Tunji Soroye. All 14 players on the UVa roster played in the game and 12 scored.
Jones came off the bench to lead the Cavaliers in scoring with a game-high 18 points. Diane scored 14 points, freshman guard Sylven Landesberg had 13 points and Scott scored 10 points and pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds. Farrakhan added nine points and five assists, while freshman guard Sammy Zeglinski had a game-high six assists.
Nine Virginia players had at least 14 minutes of playing time in the game and Scott played 22 minutes to lead the Cavaliers in that department.
Sunday’s game will be the second for VMI. The Keydets won 111-103 at Kentucky on Friday (Nov. 14).
VMI finished the 2007-08 season with an overall record of 14-15 and a 6-8 record in the Big South Conference. The Keydets led the nation in scoring for the second consecutive season with an average of 91.3 points a game.
Ten lettermen, including four starters, return for VMI this season, but the Keydets will be without forward Reggie Williams. Williams led the nation in scoring each of the last two seasons and finished his career with 2,556 points. He averaged 27.8 points a game last season.
Senior guards and twin brothers Chavis and Travis Holmes are the top-returning scorers for VMI. Chavis averaged 18.3 points and 4.3 rebounds a game last season, while Travis averaged 15.6 points and 5.9 rebounds a game. Chavis is a preseason All-Big South Conference selection. The brothers have combined to score 2,600 career points which ranks fourth all-time on the NCAA Division I twins scoring list.
VMI’s other returning starters are senior forward Willie Bell and junior guard Adam Lonon, Jr. Bell averaged 8.2 points and 5.8 rebounds a game, while Lonon averaged 4.2 points and 3.5 assists a game last season.
Duggar Baucom is in his fourth season as VMI’s head coach and he led the Keydets to an overall record of 35-54 the last three seasons. He was the head coach at Tusculum College in Greenville, Tenn., for two seasons before being named head coach at VMI.
Virginia leads the series with VMI 100-15 and the Cavaliers have won the last 23 games in the series. The Cavaliers’ 100 victories over VMI are the most for UVa against any opponent.
The game with VMI is the first of a four-game home stand for Virginia. The Cavaliers next game is against the University of South Florida at John Paul Jones Arena on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.