CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Devon Hall’s offense is coming around after a slow start to the season, and on a Virginia team that lacks a go-to scorer, it’s an important development as the 13th-ranked Cavaliers head into the more challenging part of their schedule.
Hall matched his career high with 13 points and the Cavaliers returned from a 10-day layoff for final exams with a 79-39 victory over Robert Morris on Saturday.
“Devon’s always an intense player and he’s physical so I’m glad to see him have a little success, either a drive and a finish or making a 3 or getting to the foul line,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said of the 6-foot-5 redshirt junior. “His intensity and his physicality were key tonight.”
Hall came into the game ninth on the team with a 5.0 scoring average, and became the seventh Cavalier to at least share top scoring honors in a game.
“We do not have a guy you can say, `He’s going to get you 20 tonight, or even 15 or 18,”‘ Bennett said, so the balance is critical.
Freshman Kyle Guy also scored 13 points and Jack Salt had a career-best 10 for the Cavaliers (9-1), who overcame a sluggish start and broke the game open with a 38-8 run spanning halftime. It turned a 13-12 deficit into a 50-21 lead early in the second half.
Isaiah Still led Robert Morris (3-9) with 16 points and Dachon Burke had seven. The Colonials shot just 23.9 percent (11 of 46) and became the fourth team held to fewer than 40 points by the Cavaliers, who lead the nation in scoring defense (47.6).
“They wear you down,” Colonials coach Andrew Toole said. “Once they kind of get that lead, you’re in a world of trouble.”
Jarred Reuter also scored 10 points for Virginia, which outscored the Colonials 48-8 in the paint and 41-14 off the bench.
Robert Morris: The Colonials appear to be in a youth movement with sophomore scoring leader Still (15 ppg) and freshmen Braden Burke and Dachon Burke all getting significant minutes. They won the Northeast Conference two years ago under Toole and have been to postseason play four times in the past five seasons, but seem more likely to suffer through growing pains with their future stars gaining experience than to make much noise this season.
Virginia: The Cavaliers were wise to schedule a lesser opponent for their first game in 11 days after a break for finals because they came out looking sluggish and sloppy before finally getting it together and closing the half on a 20-5 run. They will need to be sharper at California on Wednesday night.
Virginia’s game at California is the best Bennett could do in giving London Perrantes, from Los Angeles, a game before his home fans, but the senior point guard won’t be the only Cavalier with lots of family in attendance.
Salt, who is from New Zealand, said eight family members are making the 13-hour flight to see him play.
Still was 5 for 10 from the field for Robert Morris. The rest of the team was 6 for 36.
Virginia forward Isaiah Wilkins and reserve point guard Ty Jerome shared the team lead with six assists each. Jerome’s came in just 16 minutes of playing time as Bennett substituted liberally and gave his younger players extended floor time before the schedule toughens.
Wilkins finished with seven points, six rebounds, six assists, a block and a steal in 21 minutes.
Robert Morris is at home next Wednesday against Buffalo in its final game before beginning Northeast Conference play.
Virginia heads west to face California in its last non-conference game before ACC play begins.
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