Charlotte, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - The 25th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers and Davidson Wildcats will meet in non-conference action at a neutral site, as the two teams clash at the Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Tony Bennett's team has split its first two games. The Cavaliers opened the 2013-14 season with a 20-point romp over James Madison (61-41), but lost a tight defensive battle with nationally-ranked Virginia Commonwealth four days later.
Bob McKillop's Wildcats have taken on an ambitious early season schedule and unfortunately, it has yet to pay off. Davidson is 0-2 on the season after opening with a 111-77 rout at the hands of fourth-ranked Duke, followed by an 81-77 setback at home to Milwaukee.
Virginia holds a 10-4 series advantage and has won six straight against Davidson. However, on neutral floors, the series is knotted up at 2-2.
It was a typical defensive effort from Virginia against VCU last time out, but the Cavaliers were done in by a 3-pointer by the Rams in the final moments of the game. After a poor performance in the opener, All-ACC guard Joe Harris got back to his normal self, leading the Cavs with 18 points in the loss to the Rams. Fellow guard Malcolm Brogdon added 10 points in support, while forward Akil Mitchell chipped in with nine. The Cavaliers had a big advantage on the boards (41-28), but shot under 40 percent from the floor overall (.391).
Defense is a given in Charlottesville, as Virginia has always been among the top defensive teams in the nation under Bennett. Early returns suggest more of the same, with the Cavs holding their two opponents to just 50.0 ppg, on .368 shooting. It is at the offensive end where Virginia has started slowly. Harris, who averaged over 16 points per game last year, is netting just 11.5 thus far. Brogdon is just under double digits at 9.5 ppg, followed closely by Mitchell (8.0 ppg). Darion Atkins (8.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg) has been a solid addition off the bench.
The Wildcats have scored 77 points in both losses this season, so offense has not been a problem thus far. Senior guard Tom Droney has been on point with his shot, hitting almost 58 percent of the time (11-of-19) for 19.0 ppg. Senior forward De'Mon Brooks is shooting a better .619 from the field for an identical 19.0 ppg, while leading the way on the glass (8.5 rpg). Sophomore guard Brian Sullivan (14.5 ppg) gives the team a viable third offensive threat. The problems for Davidson have come on the defensive end. The numbers are skewed by the absolute domination by Duke, but the first two opponents are shooting .570 from the floor.
Droney and Sullivan tied for team-high honors in scoring against the Panthers last time out, as each poured in 22 points in defeat. Brooks added balance in the frontcourt with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds.