CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett had a message for his team before its home opener against the Norfolk State Spartans on Sunday.
No prancin’ and dancin’.
The No. 9 Cavaliers were coming off a 79-51 road win over in-state foe James Madison on Friday night and were all business as they welcomed the Spartans to a packed John Paul Jones Arena.
For a second straight game, guard Justin Anderson led Virginia in scoring as the Cavaliers rolled to a 2-0 start with a 67-39 win over Norfolk State.
Anderson scored a team-high 11 points as the Cavaliers opened their home campaign with a victory in front of 12,845 fans.
“A situation like this where there are (almost) 13,000 people in the gym, their home opener — we wanted to strike first,” Norfolk State coach Robert Jones said. “We didn’t strike first and they kept striking and striking over and over.”
Five players scored at least seven points as the Cavaliers shared the wealth and shot 43 percent for the game, including 10 made three-pointers.
“When guys are set with their hands ready, we want them to shoot those with confidence,” Bennett said. “Defensively I thought we were solid to start. The unselfishness offensively and defensively is definitely a pro for us.”
Norfolk State’s first field goal of the second half came at the 10:22 mark, when guard Jeff Short ended a drought. The Spartans were abysmal from the field as they shot just 24 percent and only scored 17 points in the second half.
“Tonight, Virginia played really well,” Jones said. “They put it to us, they showed why they’re number eight in the country.”
Short, the Spartans lone bright spot, led Norfolk State (1-1) with a game-high 19 points and added five rebounds. Only one other player made more than one field goal for the game.
“We prepared for this game better than what we showed out there tonight,” Jones said. “We knew what they were trying to do, some of our defensive schemes we didn’t execute well at all.”
Center Mike Tobey chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds for Virginia, while forward Darion Atkins was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and scored eight points.
The Cavaliers’ largest lead of the game came at the 5:32 mark of the second half when they led by 33 after an Atkins’ layup.
Virginia outrebounded the Spartans 41-31 and recorded an assist on 19 of their 23 made field goals as Anderson and guard London Perrantes tallied four assists apiece.
“An unselfish, next-pass approach is good,” Bennett said. “When you get open shots you don’t always have to take the first one, so I like when they pass one up to get a better one and that certainly opened it up for us.”
Forward Anthony Gill scored nine points and grabbed eight rebounds for Virginia.
The Cavaliers trailed 6-5 early in the first half before finding the range from beyond the 3-point line.
Virginia knocked down five shots from beyond the arc during a stretch where they made six-straight shots midway through the first 20 minutes. The Cavaliers would use a 24-7 run to take a 29-13 lead with 6:53 to play.
Virginia led 42-22 at the halftime break after shooting 52 percent from the floor.
The Cavaliers knocked down eight 3-pointers in the half and got at least one from five different players.
Anderson and guard Marial Shayok tallied eight points apiece for Virginia.
Norfolk State was led by Short, who scored 15 of the Spartans’ 22 points in the first half.
The Spartans shot just 30 percent for the half with five of their seven makes coming from beyond the arc.
NOTES: Virginia defeated Norfolk State 66-56 on Dec. 23, 2013. … Norfolk State’s 81-43 win over Division II Pfeiffer on Friday night marked their largest margin of victory in the program’s Division I era. … Virginia G London Perrantes and F Evan Nolte were back in the lineup after being suspended for Friday night’s game against James Madison… Virginia hosts South Carolina State on Tuesday night while Norfolk State will host Boston University on Wednesday.
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