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December 30, 2013

Wahoos are KOed in Knoxville

When Antonio Barton's half-court heave went through the net as the first-half buzzer sounded, Tennessee had put up 48 points on a UVa team that came in allowing 54.2 per game.

And it didn't get any better from there for the visiting squad. Jordan McRae posted a game-high 21 points and Josh Richardson, after starting 6-for-6 shooting from the field, posted 20 as the Volunteers blasted the Wahoos 87-52 in Knoxville on Monday night.

These two teams met in Charlottesville last season in a game that UVa won 46-38. While they may have been wearing the same colors, there was nothing on Monday night that resembled that game last December.

UVa struggled to do just about anything right in the first half, shooting 32.1 percent from the field (including a frigid 16.7 percent from 3-point land) and racking up seven turnovers. And when the Cavaliers weren't being totally inept offensively, they were letting the Vols get anything and everything they wanted on the other end.

Tennessee (8-4) shot 57.7 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes, including an astonishing 72.7 percent from beyond the arc. The Vols finished with three players (McRae, Richardson, and Jarnell Stokes) scoring 20 points or more, the first time UVa's allowed that to happen since 2008 when Seth Curry, Kyle Ohman, and Anthony Smith did it for Liberty in its 86-82 win.

The same UT team that came in shooting 31.4 percent from behind the arc and making an average of 4.9 3s per game shot 61.1 percent and made 11 against UVa (9-4).

Joe Harris, who made a 3-pointer just before Barton's half-court shot in the in the first half, finished with just seven points on 2-of-9 shooting. Justin Anderson had a team-high 11 points for Virginia while Mike Tobey added 10.

"They certainly shot the ball well and they hit some tough shots but they got some great open looks," UVa's Tony Bennett said of the Vols. "They had so much time to get in a rhythm. We've had our struggles offensively but if we're going to struggle like that defensively, run into that many screens, and be that slow to trap, be that poor on ball screen coverage, then that can happen if they get hot. They did what they wanted, whether it was post touches on the glass, then certainly they shot it very well.

"They separated quick," he added, "and we couldn't reel it back in."

Harris called the performance "embarrassing" and added that he didn't have any idea the Wahoos would be that bad on both ends of the floor.

"We just got out-toughed," Harris said. "Out-played, out-worked, out everything-ed. We know we're a lot better than we showed and that's why it stings. It's very disheartening and overall just very embarrassing that we came out here and played the way that we did.

"But [give] a lot of credit to Tennessee. They're a very solid team and that's what talented teams do to you when you don't show up to play," he added.

In a game that UVa never led, the Wahoos trailed by as many as 37. After taking a 22-point lead at the half, the Volunteers never let Virginia get close.

Tennessee started the game on a 21-8 run (Richardson scored 12 in that stretch), stretched that to 30-13 by the under-8 media timeout, and closed the half strong.

In the second half, though UVa made the first two buckets, an old-fashioned three-point play for Stokes followed by a 3 from McRae erased any thoughts the Cavaliers might have had of making an historic comeback.

The 35-point loss was the largest since for UVa since it lost to Washington 106-63 in the Maui Invitational in 2010. That game also featured the largest halftime deficit for the Cavaliers prior to Monday night.



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