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Cavs routed by Gonzaga

Cavs routed by Gonzaga

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As one of college basketball's top defensive teams from year to year, Virginia has never expressed any satisfaction at holding a team under 100 points.

That certainly was the case Saturday as No. 1-ranked Gonzaga chose not to take a final shot Saturday as the Bulldogs routed No. 16 UVa 98-75 at Dickies Arena in Forth Worth, Texas.

Gonzaga (7-0) scored the first seven points of the game, built a 20-point lead in the first half and coasted after that. Virginia (4-2) was able to cut the margin to 44-31 at halftime but never got any closer than that.

The Cavaliers had no answer for 6-7 Gonzaga senior Corey Kispert, who finished with a game-high 32 points, including nine 3-pointers. and 6-10 sophomore Drew Timme had 29 points and eight rebounds.

The last team to score as many as 98 points against Virginia was another school from Washington, the University of Washington, which beat the Cavaliers 106-63 in Hawaii in November of 2010.

"They're [the Bulldogs] the best we've played by far and appear to be well deserving of that ranking," UVa coach Tony Bennett said after the game. "If you don't take care of the ball … it's hard enough to stop them."

Virginia opened the game with four turnovers in its first five possessions.

"When you give 'em points off turnovers — I think it was 19 in the first half, if I'm right — that puts you in a big hole," Bennett said. "They really exposed some things that we have to go to work and shore up."

Junior point guard Kiehi Clark had a team-high 19 points and transfer Trey Murphy III added 15 off the bench. Veteran big men Sam Hauser and Jay Huff were ineffective, finishing with 10 points and nine points respectively.

Gonzaga shot 60.3 percent against a UVa defense that annually ranks among the stingiest in college basketball, outrebounded the Cavaliers 31-25 and forced 15 turnovers, including six by Clark.

"That was discouraging, for sure," Bennett said. "You start out with ball security at the offensive end and you play from there. They exposed some things that we really need to go to work on — transition defense, making them take contested shots — and we couldn't even get to that spot.

"We haven't guarded well this year yet. We lost a lot on the defensive side of things and that's a place we've got to shore up. I have regrets of how poorly we played and getting beat this much but, absolutely, we needed this."

Virginia had scheduled the likes of Michigan State, Villanova and Florida for the early season but the COVID pandemic resulted in cancellations.

"Twenty-five percent of [Gonzaga's] scoring was on turnovers and we helped them a lot," Bennett said. "We needed to play some teams of high major caliber and this was the first time and it was too much.

"You can't hide forever and you've got to know, we've got some warts. This was important but painful.  We needed to play against some teams of high-major caliber. This was the first time and we weren't ready for it."

Contact Doug Doughty at doug.doughty@roanoke.com or 981-3129. Follow him on Twitter: @DoughtySports.

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Doug Doughty is in his 44th year at the Roanoke Times, having produced an estimated 10,000 by-lines, a majority of them on University of Virginia athletics.

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