November 15, 2015

Virginia attributed some early shooting woes in its opener to nerves.

If the No. 6 Cavaliers get off to a slow start against George Washington, they know they have the ability to come back.

Virginia relied on a strong second-half defensive performance last season to defeat the Colonials, who will host Monday night's rematch.

The Cavaliers opened by cruising to an 86-48 home rout of Morgan State on Friday. Virginia missed 12 of its first 13 shots before pulling away with a 24-9 run at the end of the half to open a 17-point cushion.

"I think at the beginning of the game we had a little bit of the jitters," forward Anthony Gill said. "We didn't come out as strong as we should. We weren't finishing as strong as we should have."

The superior size of Virginia was evident. Seven-footer Mike Tobey went 7 of 8 for 15 points with eight rebounds, while the 6-8 Gill had 12 points and seven boards for a Cavaliers team that held a 50-21 edge on the glass.

Last season, Virginia received its first major test in a 59-42 win over George Washington on Nov. 21 in its fourth game. The Cavaliers trailed 26-22 at halftime before limiting the Colonials to 20.0 percent shooting and 16 points the rest of the way.

Virginia outrebounded George Washington 41-28 and enjoyed a 42-24 advantage in points in the paint.

That kind of interior play is something George Washington is wary of after winning 85-76 over Lafayette in Friday's opener thanks in part to a 50-32 rebounding edge. Kevin Larsen had 24 points and 11 rebounds while Tyler Cavanaugh finished with 15 and 17 in his Colonials debut.

Cavanaugh is a transfer from Wake Forest, which played Virginia twice while he was there.

"They're bigger up front so we're not going to be able to have a field day on the glass like we did tonight," he said.

Coach Mike Lonergan was happy with the opening effort, though he's looking for improvement from 3-point range after a 2-of-17 performance.

"I think we'll be ready, we're going to have a great crowd and hopefully we won't go 2 for 17 on 3s because that pack-line defense is not going to allow you to win if you can't make some open jumpers," Lonergan said. "We're going to get some open 3s and we gotta hit 'em on Monday night."

The Cavaliers are the first top-10 team to play at George Washington's Smith Center since No. 5 Temple won 98-67 on March 4, 2000.

"We're going to go into a crazy environment," Gill said. "They have everyone back from last year, so we just have to be ready for their best punch. We have to be ready for that kind of environment, too. They have a small gym with the fans right on top of you."

Virginia has won the last seven meetings since a 73-67 loss Jan. 19, 1974.

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