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Dec. 18, 2014

Recap | Box Score | Notes | USA Today media_icon_photogallery.gif | Photo Album (by Matt Riley) media_icon_photogallery.gif

Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett

Opening statement:
“Cleveland State is a scrappy team. I thought we were good offensively. Once we got going a little bit, we shared the ball. There was a good balance, and I liked what we did defensively. I knew Cleveland State was a team we had a lot of respect for. I respect their coach and how they play. Overall, I thought we were pretty solid. We had to work. It wasn’t easy, but I thought we executed well, and we needed to against their defense.”

On Malcolm Brogdon guarding Trey Lewis:
“That was important. We have some size and length in our guards corps. When you are going against a guy who can score at all three levels, you hope you are in position. It is the same story for us – make them hit contested shots, and we did for most of the game. Lewis hit some tough ones and got going in the second half, but Malcolm has size and length, and he really takes that challenge to guard those good offensive players. I am hoping our other guys will be able to do that, as well.”

On getting the ball inside in the second half:
“We tried to make some adjustments at halftime to get inside to touch the paint and really make them work. We were hoping to get some easier looks and the guys started knocking down shots. Justin Anderson got some good looks in the paint.”

On the long break:
“I have been here six years, and this is one of the longest breaks we have had. It had been 12 days since we last played. We got better at using the break time in how we practice and addressing what we do. It was a long time, but I told the guys not to buy into the excuse that we would be rusty. We practiced hard and got rest. I know there was stress on them with their exams and studying, but if you can play, you can play. I didn’t want them to have that crutch of how long it had been. I knew playing Cleveland State, we would have to come prepared.”

On shooters:
“We are balanced. We can score inside. When you lose a shooter like Joe [Harris], you wonder who is going to knock down shots, but guys are still getting the right kind of shots. Our guys know what they need to do. Offense can come and go, so we hang our hat on defense and be as sound as we can offensively. If you can get a quality shot, that is the key, but don’t let anyone off the hook defensively.”

On Cleveland State:
“The teams that they had played are good. They defended Louisville really well. The addition of Charlie Lee gives them a different dynamic. He is quick and can get in the lane. I know they are glad to get him back. We certainly respected them. I know what kind of coach Gary Waters is, and how good they are defensively. They don’t score a ton, like we don’t score a ton, but you knew you were going to have to work. They had our attention.”

On Harvard:
“They are a very good ball club. They know how to play. I will watch more film as we get going. They have lost one and won the rest. Again, they are another well-coached team that has really established itself. That program is really cooking, and we will have to be ready to go.”

Cleveland State Head Coach Gary Waters

Opening Statement:
“That game was, for us, at moments we played hard but we just weren’t accomplishing anything. You ever play a game where you’re working and you keep going and you keep going and you’re not getting anything from it? You know who I’m going to give that to? That is Virginia. Their defense is pretty strong and they’re solid in what they do and try to accomplish and it’s hard to get it through there.”

On Cleveland State offense:
“We haven’t shot the ball well all year, and I didn’t expect a whole major change in that, but I did feel in the second half we were a little bit more aggressive attacking them and that’s what we have to do. We have to get to the line and we haven’t been getting to the line as much as I expected. They’re a good team and it was good to play a team like that, one that can really get down and guard you.”

On Virginia’s layoff:
“Some people need the rest, and I honestly believe it’s the best time because of finals. Finals is a draining thing. I’ll give you an example, last year we had a very good team and we came back from a trip and it was finals and our guys were just lost and we lost a game we shouldn’t have lost because it’s just drains you. When you get all this off your back, now you can play basketball, and I think that was good for them.”

On the game:
“I thought it [the halftime deficit] should have been even less. We gave up a basket at the end, and that shouldn’t have happened. If we had hit any shots that would have been about a seven or eight [point] game, if we had hit any shots, we just missed shots. We got opportunities, we just missed them. Our defense at times can be stifling, we can really defend, and the second half it didn’t look like that because they shot 58 percent, but they didn’t really take a lot of shots, they just made the ones they took.”

On the free-throw disparity:
“I went into the halftime and told my team that was the difference in the game. They were up 13, they made 15 free throws, and it was all based on that. I ain’t going to say it was the right calls made, I don’t know all that stuff. All I know is that they were getting to the line and we were not. It’s hard to beat a team when you don’t get to the line.”

Comparing Louisville and Virginia:
“They’re both very very good defensive teams, and Louisville will have a problem I think with Virginia’s size, because their size is kind of stifling. When your guards are 6-6 and 6-5, that’s kind of tough on you and they wear down on you and they’re going to have a problem with that. But I don’t think the inside will cause Louisville any problems, that’s a head-to-head battle. It is going to be interesting watching them play.”

On Justin Anderson:
“Anderson is a tough guard because he’s a big body and he hit a couple of shots. He hit a 4-point play, which I thought was a key to us. I thought we were getting back in there and doing it and that play happened and it shouldn’t have happened because it was just a breakdown on our guy.”

Virginia Junior Guard Justin Anderson

On slow start:
“I think we got a lot of work in, but, despite the long break, playing against another team, no matter what the circumstances may be when you have that break it’s tough to come back right away. Our defense did a great job holding them to a low score early, and then our shots started to fall.”

On his attitude starting the 2nd half:
“When I was in the locker room I was thinking I needed to pick it up on the offensive glass, but I quickly changed that in my mind. That’s exactly what I shouldn’t do. We need to just let the game come to us. Stay with our team and stay within our offense and continue to make the extra pass. I think our team did a great job of finding each other, making the extra pass and getting open. Getting to the paint and making a layup helped me a lot. My teammates did a great job of getting each other open.”

On his four-point play:
“They closed out really far on me. It was kind of scary falling on every shot. They did a great job of closing out on things. I just need to make sure I stick my landing. When someone’s running up under you, as a shooter, you don’t want to come down on them.”

On Cleveland State’s defense:
“They were very scrappy defensively and they were closing out hard, so you just have to make some adjustments.”

On the offense this season:
“A lot of credit goes to the coaching staff. My first couple years we had a few offenses, but all summer long we prepared with the same offense and kept everything consistent and the coaches gave us a chance to really gel in that offense. I think it’s starting to show. We just want to continue to stay the course and just keep trying to get each other open.”

Virginia Junior Forward Evan Nolte

On feelings about making shots:
“Yeah, it felt good. I have been shooting well outside of games, so it was frustrating when you get into games and they’re not falling. It was good to come back after the break and play well.”

On reaction to diving play on social media:
“Yeah, I saw pictures and it was funny. I was just running back and it ended up being a fun play. I guess my face was weird.”

Virginia Junior Guard Malcolm Brogdon

On 13-point lead at halftime:
“It wasn’t frustrating. We understood we were playing good defense, and on offense we were executing and getting good shots, but at some point the shots were going to have to fall. As long as we were executing and getting good shots we would win. If the game ended 13-4 we would still win. We knew that our defense was strong and we were executing on the other end. We were content with how we were playing tonight.”

Virginia Junior Forward Anthony Gill

On Evan Nolte hitting shots:
“It was really good to see. He has been working so hard and for it to pay off right now is good to see his confidence raise up like that. He stayed positive throughout it all.”

On long break:
“I think I felt the rest, especially on the free-throw line I was where I struggled. I think with repetition and playing more, we will get it back.”

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