The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 19, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: John Paul Jones Arena (14,593) -- Charlottesville, Virginia. Television: None. Home Record: Lamar 0-0, Virginia 2-1. Away Record: Lamar 0-2, Virginia 0-1. Neutral Record: Lamar 0-1, Virginia 0-0. Conference Record: Lamar 0-0, Virginia 0-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Lamar Cardinals will try to steal one on the road when they take on the Virginia Cavaliers at John Paul Jones Arena in the Preseason NIT Consolation bracket.
The Cardinals will be looking to avoid the first 0-4 start in school history when they take the floor on Monday. Lamar's poor start consists of three double-digit losses to Kansas State, North Texas, and Charlotte. The Cardinals shot just 31.1 percent from the field and went 0-of-10 from three-point range in their 70-49 loss to the 49ers on Saturday. Coach Pat Knight made headlines last season for publicly ripping into his squad after a loss to Stephen F. Austin in February, which led to a six-game winning streak and Southland Conference Tournament Championship. Knight may have to motivate his troops much earlier this season.
The Cavaliers have been a little disappointing on the way to their 2-2 record. Tony Bennett's team has maintained its strong defensive principles from last season, but that did not help it in its losses at George Mason and Delaware. Virginia struggled on the offensive end with a mere average of 55.3 ppg until its 83-43 rout of Seattle on Saturday.
This will be the first meeting in history between these programs.
Turnovers have been a glaring issue to the Cardinals so far as through three games they have committed twice as many as their opposition. The poor ball control has led to a 20 point average margin of loss. Freshman forward Rhonn Mitchell and senior guard Donley Minor are the leading scorers so far with respective averages of 14 and 11 ppg. Knight has no choice but to run his offense through Mitchell and Minor, but they have combined for 29 turnovers in two games. Until Lamar starts winning games, its starting lineup will not stay consistent.
The Cavaliers' 40 point victory over Seattle on Saturday was the widest margin of victory during Bennett's four-year tenure in Charlottesville. Virginia held its opponent to just 15 makes from the floor with a 25.4 field goal percentage. The team's strong defensive showing was not a surprise, but its ability to net 28-of-50 attempts from the field and make all but three of its 24 tries at the charity stripe was a pleasant change. Junior forward Akil Mitchell scored 14 points and pulled down 16 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double, while high-flying freshman Justin Anderson threw down three dunks on the way to 11 points and four assists. Evan Nolte and Mike Tobey both scored in double figure as well as the Cavaliers displayed very unselfish play by assisting 75 percent of their makes.
It is not shocking that the Cavaliers dropped two decisions to mid-major programs early on considering their style of play. Virginia's slow it down gameplan leads to less possessions for both sides, which typically helps the underdog stay within striking distance. Virginia submitted an ideal performance its last time out while sticking to its principles. Although it may have cost them a game early on, the Cavaliers are smart to stick to the script though, as they will need to grind out wins by overpowering opponents once they dive into conference action. Lamar will need to play over its head to leave Charlottesville as a winner.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia 64, Lamar 48
11/19 10:39:01 ET