December 04, 2015

Even if ailing point guard London Perrantes doesn't take the court this weekend, Virginia feels it has enough quality depth to keep winning.

It's uncertain if the junior floor leader will return from a recent appendectomy when the 10th-ranked Cavaliers try for a sixth straight victory Saturday against a William & Mary squad that's already knocked off an ACC school on the road.

In its first game since Perrantes (10.0 points, 5.3 assists per game) underwent surgery Sunday, Virginia (6-1) got 12 points and six assists in 36 minutes from sophomore Tennessee transfer Darius Thompson plus four points and three rebounds from fellow guard Devon Hall in a season-high 23 minutes of Tuesday's 64-58 win at Ohio State.

''We are veteran team that has depth,'' said coach Tony Bennett, who has nine players averaging at least 10.6 minutes. ''I've talked about that a lot this year so it was an opportunity to see if we had legitimate depth."

Led by Malcolm Brogdon's 17.4 points per game, three Cavaliers average in double figures and four more are scoring at least 5.4 a contest. Paced by Perrantes, five Virginia players average at least 1.9 assists.

''Of course, we'll miss (Perrantes) but we have guys who can step up for as long as he's out," said sophomore Isaiah Wilkins, who had six points, five rebounds, one steal and one block in 25 minutes off the bench against the Buckeyes.

There is no return date set for Perrantes, who has started all but four of the 75 games he's played in three seasons at Virginia. Last season, talented guard Justin Anderson sat out eight days after undergoing an appendectomy.

"I think it just depends on how you respond," Bennett told the school's official website. "It's just unfortunate that's our second one in a short amount of time."

Bennett is more than confident Thompson, Hall and even the versatile Brogdon, who averages 3.0 assists, can continue to pick up the slack if Perrantes remains out.

"We're just trying to keep it rolling, even though London's gone," said Bennett, whose team leads the nation with a 2.17 assist-to-turnover ratio. "Ballhandling guards are really important at the college level - any level - and I think that's maybe what's a little different about this year."

Virginia has not turned the ball over more than nine times in any game, and had eight while also going 8 of 16 from 3-point range Tuesday. That type of play and a defense that's again among the country's best allowing an average of 58.3 points, likely needs to be on display Saturday.

The Cavaliers have dominated William & Mary (5-2) by winning the last nine meetings, but this is the first since November 2010.

The Tribe return five of their top six scorers from a 2014-15 squad that recorded its second straight 20-win season and made the NIT. They immediately turned heads this season by shooting 51.7 percent and pulling down 42 rebounds to open with an 85-68 win at North Carolina State.

"That's a good team," N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. "They play like that and they're a potential NCAA Tournament team."

William & Mary also fell by three on the road to a Dayton team that suffered its first defeat last weekend against then-No. 23 Xavier and overcame a season-low 38.2-percent shooting effort to win 55-48 over Old Dominion on Tuesday.

While junior swingman Omar Prewitt averages a team-leading 17.4 points, the Tribe are holding opponents to 64.3 points per game and 38.6 percent shooting.

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