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Posted at 10:34 PM ET, 01/ 4/2011

Virginia 84, Howard 63: Three up, three down

By Steve Yanda

The Cavaliers needed a game like the one that transpired tonight at John Paul Jones Arena as they prepare to resume ACC play Saturday against North Carolina. Virginia has only shot better from the field than it did Tuesday four times in program history, and its reward was defeating Howard, 84-63.

Mustapha Farrakhan made eight straight three-pointers. The Cavaliers made nine straight three-pointers in the first half. Joe Harris made 5 of 6 shots from beyond the arc. K.T. Harrell shot 6 for 9 from the field. Heck, even Assane Sene made all four of his field goal attempts.

Farrakhan "really was rolling and had great rhythm," Coach Tony Bennett said. "It was nice to see, and certainly it helped us out. Everybody shot it so well. As did they, which was a concern early in the game."

Indeed, Howard shot 56.5 percent from the field and made 5 of 9 three-pointers in the first half. But the Bison refused to move out of their zone defensive schemes, which enabled the Cavaliers to keep on rolling.

Three Up:

1) Farrakhan. The senior guard had missed 15 of his past 16 three-point attempts entering Tuesday. Then he caught fire, making 8 of 9 from beyond the arc against Howard. He finished with a career-high 31 points. Farrakhan has been inconsistent with his shot this season, but when he's on, it bodes well for the Cavaliers.

2) Harris. Much like Farrakhan, Harris also entered Tuesday night's game in a shooting slump. He had missed 15 of his last 18 three-point attempts before making 5 of 6 against Howard. Harris finished with 16 points. Bennett pointed out after the game that it seems when the one player shoots well, they all shoot well. And when one player shoots poorly, they all shoot poorly. Tuesday night certainly provided evidence to that theory. Virginia shot 66.7 percent from the field and 64.0 percent (16 for 25) from three-point range.

3) Jontel Evans. The sophomore guard attempted just two shots Tuesday night, and -- somewhat shockingly, considering the shooting rhythm the rest of the team was in -- missed them both. Still, Evans was a presence on both ends of the floor. He tallied a career-high 10 assists and tied a career-high with three steals.

Three Down:

1) Injured big men. Though Bennett said Tuesday night that team doctors still were deciding the best course of action to take with senior forward Mike Scott, it doesn't look good. Scott, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, wore a protective boot on his injured left ankle as he sat on the bench in street clothes. He has missed five of the past six games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on the ankle Dec. 16.

"I wish I could tell you" how long Scott would be out, Bennett said. "I wish I knew. He’s in the boot. Our doctors are, they’re kind of conferring, seeing, okay, how long do we keep him in the boot, rest it, see how it feels, or is another surgery required? When? If? How does he feel when he comes out of it? We’re really trying to wrap our head around it and see, and obviously make sure he’s healthy and is going to be full go. It’s hard to say."

Bennett said Scott would be eligible for a medical redshirt should he not be able to return this season, but he noted the focus right now is on "seeing if we can get him healthy and the best route to take as far as that."

Also, senior forward Will Sherrill continues to deal with an injured right leg. Sherrill was kicked in the right shin less than four minutes into Tuesday night's game and did not return. Sherrill fractured the fibula in his right leg on Nov. 29 and returned to play Dec. 30 against Iowa State. Sherrill said the kick occured on the exact spot where the break was. He underwent X-rays following the game, and he said the break had not been worsened by the kick.

"it was pretty painful," said Sherrill, who noted it would be another couple weeks before the leg was completely healed. "I was talking with (Bennett) at halftime, and we just didn’t want to press it, I guess."

2) Field goal percentage defense. For as well as Virginia shot the ball Tuesday, the Cavaliers gave up a high shooting percentage on the other end of the floor. Howard shot 53.3 percent from the field and made 8 of 17 three-point attempts (47.1 percent). North Carolina prefers an up-tempo, high-possession game, and if Virginia doesn't play better defense Saturday, it's unlikely the Cavaliers will be able to keep up on the scoreboard.

3) n/a

By Steve Yanda  | January 4, 2011; 10:34 PM ET
Categories:  Men's Basketball  
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Without Mike Scott and with Will Sherrill limping along on one leg, the Hoos are gonna get killed inside in ACC play. Not gonna be pretty.

But you gotta like these young freshman. If they can add some inside presence and a good point guard, the future looks bright. But can Bennett recruit with the big boys? His freshman were all under-the-radar guys. He's going to need to add some 4 and 5 star guys to compete in the ACC.

If the goal is to make the NCAAs ever other year or so, then the current recipe should get it done. But if they ever want to win the ACC or actually win some tourney games, they need to land some blue chip recruits.

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | January 5, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

A lot of those top players don't stay long enough to make a difference to the program or never hit their potential. The occasional top 20 player really helps, but having very good players that stay 4 years with a great coach will make Virginia a team to be reckoned with.

Look at GT and WFU for an example of how top recruiting classes don't always build a great program.

Go Hoos!

Posted by: GoHoos2002 | January 6, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

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