Virginia guard Sean Singletary is coming off a somewhat subpar game for his standards. That performance, however, is better than what any player on Pennsylvania has been able to produce.
Led by Singletary, No. 23 Virginia looks to remain undefeated for the season and win its sixth straight game against the struggling Quakers when the teams meet in the Philly Hoop Group Classic on Friday night.
Singletary has been outstanding for the Cavaliers (4-0), scoring more than 20 points in his last three games and leading the team with 22.5 a contest. The 6-foot senior is also averaging a team-best 6.8 assists and 2.0 steals, and is second with 5.0 rebounds.
The second-leading scorer on Virginia is Mamadi Diane with 11.0 points per game, making Singletary unquestionably the team’s No. 1 option.
Singletary had 24 points in a 72-58 win over Drexel on Tuesday night, but shot only 7-for-19 from the field. Even though his shot wasn’t falling, Singletary compensated by getting to the free-throw line and contributing seven rebounds and five assists.
“No matter what, on his off games, he plays so hard out there that things are going to go his way, regardless,” Virginia forward Adrian Joseph said of Singletary. “I look forward to playing games with him, even on his off nights.”
In contrast, Penn (1-3) has had only one player reach 20 points this season. Brian Grandieri had 23 in a 67-59 overtime loss to Drexel on Nov. 9, and 20 as the Quakers won their first game of the season 93-77 over Citadel on Tuesday night.
Penn, which is hosting this tournament at The Palestra, may struggle against a Virginia offense that is shooting 48.2 percent from 3-point range. Quakers opponents have shot 51.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Singletary is among five Virginia regulars making over 45 percent of their 3-point attempts. He is shooting 47.1 percent (8-for-17) while Diane has made a team-best 10 of 17 from beyond the arc.
The Cavaliers have also outrebounded their opponents 165-101. Joseph had the first double-double of his career with 11 points and 11 rebounds versus Drexel, and is averaging a team-best 6.3 boards per game.
Grandieri leads the Quakers with 15.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. The senior guard has been struggling from 3-point range, though, going just 1-for-8 after shooting 50.0 percent (22-for-44) in 2006-07.
Grandieri has been one of the few bright spots for Penn, which is off to a slow start after winning the last three Ivy League titles. He did get some help Tuesday, however, with Michael Kach scoring 19 points off the bench and freshman Tyler Bernardini adding a career-best 18.
Bernardini has started the last two games after attempting only eight shots in the Quakers’ first two contests.
Virginia has won the last five meetings with Penn, but trails the all-time series 7-5. Whichever team comes out on top will face the winner of Friday’s earlier game, a matchup between Seton Hall and Navy, on Saturday night.