CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – No. 2 Virginia (8-0) hosts No. 5 Houston (10-1) in nonconference action on Saturday, Dec. 17. Tipoff at John Paul Jones Arena is set for 2 p.m. on ESPN2.
• Virginia is 8-0 for the first time since starting 16-0 in 2018-19.
• UVA is hosting its highest ranked nonconference foe in history.
• UVA seeks its second top-5 win in a season for the first time since 2016-17 when the Cavaliers defeated No. 4 Louisville (71-55) and No. 5 North Carolina (53-43).
• Virginia and Houston have been two of college basketball best programs over the past six seasons. UVA is 136-34 during the six-year span, while Houston is 153-31.
• Jayden Gardner has averaged 15.2 points and 9.0 rebounds in five career games against Houston. Gardner tallied 29 points and 19 rebounds in a 69-59 loss to the Cougars at East Carolina. He was held to four points and two rebounds in last season’s loss at Houston.
• Armaan Franklin lived in Houston for six years during his childhood and his aunt, Coquese Washington, won a WNBA title with the Houston Comets in 2000. Washington is the head women’s basketball coach at Rutgers.
• UVA ranks eighth nationally in turnovers per game (9.8), ninth in free throws made per game (18.5), 12th in free throw attempts per game (26.1), scoring defense (57.9 ppg) and assist/turnover ratio (1.56), 24th in 3-point field goal percentage (39.6) and 31st in blocks per game (5.2).
• The Virginia-Houston game will be televised on ESPN2 and streamed online at WatchESPN.com.
• The game will also be broadcast on Virginia Sports Radio Network, VirginiaSports.com and Virginia Sports app.
• Live statistics will be located on VirginiaSports.com and the Virginia Sports app.
The Head Coach
• Dean and Markel Families Head Men’s Basketball Coach Tony Bennett has a 324-117 (.735) mark in 14 seasons at UVA and 393-150 (.724) career mark in 17 seasons as a head coach.
• Bennett needs three wins to pass Terry Holland (326-173, 16 seasons) as the all-time winningest coach at UVA.
• Bennett needs seven wins to reach 400 career wins.
• Bennett has guided the Cavaliers to five ACC regular-season titles (2014, 2015, 2018, 2019 and 2021), two ACC Tournament titles (2014 and 2018) and one NCAA national championship (2019).
• The three-time National (2007, 2015 and 2018) and four-time ACC Coach of the Year (2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019) guided UVA to its 10th consecutive postseason berth in 2021-22.
UVA Ranked No. 2 in Latest AP Poll
• UVA is ranked No. 2 in the latest AP national poll and has been ranked in the top-5 for the past four weeks.
• The No. 2 ranking is UVA’s highest since spending the last four weeks at No. 2 in 2018-19.
• UVA returned to the top-5 for the first time on Nov. 21 since a No. 4-preseason ranking in 2020-21.
• Prior to this season, the Cavaliers’ last top-5 ranking during the regular season was on Dec. 2, 2019.
• The Cavaliers were ranked No. 18 in the AP Preseason poll.
• UVA was ranked in the preseason AP top-25 for the fifth straight year and ninth in the last 10 seasons.
About The Cavaliers
• UVA returns all five starters from last season’s team, which finished 21-14, 12-8 in the ACC (sixth) and advanced to the NIT quarterfinals.
• We play defense, take quality shots, pass the basketball, limit turnovers and transition points, rebound and play more defense.
• The Cavaliers return 91.4 percent of its scoring from last season, most among all NCAA Division I teams (Portland 91.1%, Dayton 89.4% and Penn 88.5%).
• Returning starters Kihei Clark (10.7 ppg, 4.7 apg), Reece Beekman (11.1 ppg, 5.1 apg, 1.7 spg), Jayden Gardner (11.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg), Kadin Shedrick (10.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.7 spg) and Armaan Franklin (11.4 ppg, 40.6% 3FG) have started all seven games for the Cavaliers.
• Transfer Ben Vander Plas (8.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg), freshmen Isaac McKneely (4.4 ppg, 42.9% 3FG) and Ryan Dunn (3.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg), Francisco Caffaro (2.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg) and Taine Murray (2.7 ppg) provide depth.
• Isaac Traudt and Leon Bond III are redshirting this season.
All-Time vs. Houston
• UVA is 3-4 all-time vs. Houston in the series that dates to Dec. 16, 1982 when the teams squared off in Tokyo, Japan.
• The Cavaliers defeated the Cougars 72-63 without Ralph Sampson, who missed the game with an illness. UVA radio analyst Jimmy Miller had 14 points in the win for the Cavaliers.
• UVA traveled to Hawaii from Japan and suffered its historic loss two games later against Chaminade (with Sampson) on Dec. 23, 1982.
• The teams square off in Charlottesville for the first time since the Cavaliers posted a 72-54 win over the Cougars on Dec. 9, 1989, at University Hall.
Last Time vs. The Cougars
• Marcus Sasser scored 19 points and Kyler Edwards added 18 as then-No. 15 Houston defeated UVA 67-47 on Nov. 16, 2021.
• UVA committed 12 first-half turnovers, which led to 14 Houston points as the Cougars extended their home-winning streak to 28 games.
• Armaan Franklin led Virginia with 11 points and Kody Stattmann added eight points.
• Stattmann matched a career high with a pair of 3-pointers.
• Houston outrebounded UVA 34-30.
• UVA is averaging 72.1 points per game, which is the highest in the Tony Bennett era.
• UVA scored 70 or more points in its first six games for the first time since 2003-04 (eight games).
• UVA scored at least 70 points in six straight games for the first time since December of 2014.
• UVA is 150-11 when scoring 70 or more points under Bennett.
• The Cavaliers are shooting 47.2 percent from the field, including 39.6 from 3-point range and 70.8 from the charity stripe.
• UVA shot 44.9 percent from the field, including 32.3 percent from 3-point range, last season.
Last Time Out
• Kihei Clark scored 18 points and Jayden Gardner added 14 as No. 3 Virginia held off JMU 55-50 on Dec. 6 at John Paul Jones Arena.
• Despite shooting 27 percent from the field, JMU hung around until the end after out-rebounding UVA, 41-33.
• The Cavaliers shot 50 percent (12-24) from the charity stripe on the night, but UVA successfully maintained its leads for the entirety of the second half.
• Gardner added eight rebounds for the Cavaliers (8-0), who played most of the game without star guard Reece Beekman due to an injury.
• Ryan Dunn gave UVA a lift off the bench with four points, five rebounds and three blocks.
• Takal Molson led the Dukes with a game-high 20 points.
On The Horizon
• No. 2 Virginia travels to No. 25 Miami for an ACC game on Tuesday, Dec. 20. Tipoff at Watsco Center is set for 8:30 p.m. on ACC Network.