CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Virginia got a relatively easy victory. Its bench players saw some valuable playing time. And Savannah State went home with a big check.
Everything went according to plan Tuesday night at John Paul Jones Arena.
Sophomore guard Ty Jerome scored a career-high 17 points, hitting all three of his 3-point attempts, as No. 13 Virginia breezed through its next-to-last non-conference tuneup, topping Savannah State 78-47.
“It doesn’t matter if we’re playing Savannah State or a Top 5 team in the country,” Jerome said. “If we’re on the road or at home. It’s just a matter of, whenever you’re on the court, executing, executing every play.”
The Tigers, who suffered their sixth loss to a ranked team this season, earned between $80,000 and $90,000 for the game, coach Horace Broadnax said.
“We don’t need to be in the ACC,” he said laughing. “I’m glad that’s our last game (against) the ACC. So we’re going to move on to, I guess, to the Big Ten and play Michigan State.”
Virginia got 10 points and five rebounds from junior center Jack Salt as the Cavaliers built a 42-21 halftime lead and never looked back.
Savannah State, which has attempted the most 3-pointers in the nation, missed its first nine shots from beyond the arc. The Tigers finished 11 for 37 on 3-pointers. It got a team-high 22 points from junior forward John Grant.
“You watch them and see, they can really hit 3s quickly,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “You have to be back in transition and quick to close out.”
Against the nation’s top scoring defense, Savannah State didn’t score its first points until 4:43 into the game and didn’t hit its first 3-pointer until there was 5:47 left in the first half.
“We have a small window to compete against these guys,” Broadnax said. “And if we don’t step through that window early, it can get out of hand and they can control the game from there.”
Savannah State: The Tigers struggle to win games in the MEAC so competing against Power 5 foes like the ACC’s Virginia is a tall order. This was Savannah State’s fifth game against a Power 5 opponent. They have lost them all by at least 30 points.
Virginia: The Cavaliers are supposed to handle teams like this and, outside of matchups with West Virginia and maybe VCU and Wisconsin, the non-conference schedule hasn’t tested Virginia much. Things figure to change when Virginia gets to ACC play in two weeks.
Savannah State has one more matchup with a ranked, Power 5 team when it plays at No. 2 Michigan State on New Year’s Eve.
Virginia wraps up non-conference play when it hosts Hampton on Friday night.