Men's basketball set for rematch with Seminoles

Sophomore guard Malcolm Brogdon emerging for Cavaliers

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The Virginia men’s basketball team, coming off a heartbreaking loss to Duke, will take on Florida State Saturday at home. The two teams faced off two weeks ago in a game the Cavaliers (12-5, 3-1 ACC) dominated, 62-50, even with an early injury to senior Joe Harris that limited him to three minutes of playing time. In the previous matchup, the Cavaliers blitzed Florida State and jumped out to a 28-13 lead. Since that loss, Florida State (11-4, 2-1) has beaten two tough teams in Clemson and Maryland.

“They’re playing good basketball,” coach Tony Bennett said. “You got to be at your best to play against them. We’re not going to take them by surprise.”

Since a shockingly lopsided 25-point loss to Tennessee, the Cavaliers have opened up 3-1 in the ACC and sit in third place in the conference. During that run, Virginia is averaging 70.3 points per game, an improvement from the 64.8 they were averaging before that span. The emergence of sophomore guard Malcolm Brogdon has been a big reason for the team’s improvement. Brogdon tied a career high 17 points in Virginia’s loss to Duke and has scored in double figures four straight games, tying another personal best.

“He’s played well, certainly has the last few games,” Bennett said. “He’s had a nice start to the ACC and we’ll need that.”

Brogdon, who redshirted last year, has made strides across the board this year. He is second on the team in both points and rebounds per game.

“[He’s] a little more seasoned as far as him sitting out here watching the game, processing it,” Bennett said. “He’s a better, improved player in a lot of areas.”

And for a Virginia team that has struggled from the free-throw line, Brogdon’s 90.7 percent success rate provides much-needed help. In fact, if Brogdon can keep the free-throw percentage up, he will break the current school record of 88.4 percent set by NBA sharpshooter Roger Mason, Jr. in the 2000-01 season.

Brogdon, however, is far from satisfied.

“I’m back to where I was, at least,” Brogdon said. “Not where I want to be at. I feel like I have a lot of work to do. A lot of areas to improve, and consistency is a big factor for me that I need to focus on and get better at.”

The Cavaliers’ perimeter players have not been able to produce as they did last season, with sophomore guard Justin Anderson the only one to increase his scoring average. Brogdon’s ability to post consistent stat lines will be key for Virginia as it faces a tough ACC schedule in the coming weeks.

“A lot of Malcolm’s game is off the dribble — he’s strong, gets to the line,” Bennett said. “He’s an important part; we only have so many perimeter guys. He’s got to be a solid part of it.”

Tipoff for the game against Florida State will take place at noon.


Published January 15, 2014 in FP test, Sports





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