November 29, 2014

Unbeaten Virginia is establishing itself as one of the best defensive teams in the country.

Rutgers is having trouble establishing any kind of identity on the offensive end.

The eighth-ranked Cavaliers will be counting on their airtight defense to stifle the poor-shooting Scarlet Knights in Saturday night's championship of the Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn.

Virginia (6-0) entered play Friday with the nation's second-best defensive field-goal percentage at 29.3, behind only top-ranked Kentucky (27.9).

The Cavaliers had not allowed an opponent to shoot better than 32.8 percent before letting LaSalle connect at 40.0 in Friday's 64-56 victory. They nearly blew an 18-point halftime lead before holding on.

''I don't know if it was complacency, maybe we got tight," coach Tony Bennett said. "That's the stuff early in the season. You got to figure this stuff out and hopefully it you get in those spots again, you can keep executing and being sound.''

The game marked the first time an opposing player scored 20 points, with the Explorers' Jordan Price reaching that mark.

Rutgers (3-2) had two players crack that barrier in a game for the first time in Friday's 68-65 win over Vanderbilt. Myles Mack scored 21 points and Kadeem Jack added 20 in what was described by coach Eddie Jordan as heroic efforts.

''Both of these guys are battling some physical issues,'' Jordan said. ''Myles had a serious toothache all day today, probably still has it. We had to rush him to the dentist and Kadeem is still recovering from his thumb and his conditioning. So what they did today was remarkable.''

Rutgers overcame 39.3 percent shooting, which was not unexpected. That matches the Scarlet Knights' season percentage - also the Big Ten's worst mark.

The Scarlet Knights also bounced back from Tuesday's 68-50 home loss to St. Peter's in a preliminary round matchup in this event, though it didn't prevent Rutgers from "advancing" to Friday's semifinals.

''That loss was a bad loss for us,'' Mack said. ''The next day in practice we came in really excited to practice, ready to get better."

One issue for Virginia was that it allowed La Salle to shoot 24 free throws in the second half, with four starters finishing with four fouls. The only one who didn't, Malcolm Brogdon, scored a season-high 20 points.

''We took our foot of the gas and didn't take care of the ball,'' Brogdon said. ''They took it to us.''

Virginia also figures to have a major advantage on the glass, entering Friday with the nation's fourth-best mark rebound margin at plus-16.2. Rutgers went into the weekend as the Big Ten's worst team at minus-2.5.

The Cavaliers seek their first 7-0 start since beginning with eight wins in 2003-04. Virginia is 3-0 against Rutgers, winning 61-57 in the last meeting Dec. 21, 2002.

Rutgers may be without guard Bishop Daniels, who left Friday with an ankle injury after he landed on Vanderbilt guard Riley LaChance's foot following a leaping pass. Jordan said X-rays were negative.

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