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Balanced Virginia beats Liberty 75-53

The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- It has been a spread-the-wealth type offense for Virginia early on this season.

The Cavaliers entered Saturday's matchup with Liberty boasting five players averaging at least eight points a game, with leading scorer Malcolm Brogden averaging a modest 12.3.

The trend continued Saturday as five players scored at least nine points for Virginia, which beat in-state foe Liberty 75-53 at John Paul Jones Arena.

Forward Anthony Gill led the Cavaliers with 13 points and Brogdon added 12.

"Whenever you're expected to win handily, you can't. We've learned that several times," Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. "On paper you're supposed to beat them, but all you have to do is look around the country and see these upsets. For us, it's doing what we do and establishing who can get to their games first."

Virginia led by as many as 12 in the first half. The Cavaliers took a 26-14 lead after Brogdon's jump shot with 5:33 to play. Liberty answered with a 12-6 run to close out the half, and the Cavaliers led 32-26.

On getting up for early-season games, Brogdon said, "I don't think it's hard to get up. I think we're a pretty competitive team. I think since it's early in the season it might look like it's hard to get up, but in reality we're just trying to work out our chemistry and put it all together."

Bennett's patented pack-line defense stifled the Flames all game, forcing them into 19 turnovers and allowing them to shoot just 38.6 percent from the field.

With five made 3-pointers in the first half, the Cavaliers exceeded their previous season high of four. Virginia (4-1) finished the game 8-of-19 from beyond the arc while shooting 48 percent from the field.

"I have great respect for coach Bennett and his staff and his players," Liberty coach Dale Layer said. "It's the deepest team they've had that I can remember, and they know their roles and can make shots inside and out."

The Cavaliers racked up 21 assists on 30 made field goals; freshman point guard London Perrantes had a career-high six assists.

"He doesn't get sped up," Bennett said. "He has a calm and poise to him. He's a better shooter than he's showing, but he has vision, too."

Liberty was outscored 43-27 by the Cavaliers in the second half after hanging around in the first 25 minutes of the game.

"We were a little bit impatient at times," Bennett said. "You could see the difference in the second half. It was good to see some shots fall as well but establishing our game is always the mindset for our team."

The dominance on the glass continued for Virginia, which outrebounded Liberty 35-28. It was the fifth straight game that the Cavaliers outrebounded their opponent. 16 of those 35 rebounds for UVa came on the offensive end, which led to 22 second chance points.

"You can't give them extra possessions," Layer said. "You can't give a good team like that extra possessions, and that was probably the difference in keeping it close and giving us a chance or allowing them to extend the lead."

The Cavaliers have won three straight games while Liberty (1-4) has lost four straight since beating Randolph College in the season opener.

Liberty was led by leading scorer Davon Marshall, who dropped in a game-high 15 points.

"They (Virginia) just did a good job of finding me more," Marshall said of his second-half struggles. "They switched defenders on me a couple of times and just did a good job of finding me and not letting me get off easy shots."

Forward Antwan Burrus added 12 points for the Flames.

Virginia used a 20-0 run in the second half to take a 60-31 lead before cruising the rest of the way.

NOTES: This was the first matchup between the two teams since 2008, when Liberty upset the Cavaliers 86-82 behind 26 points from Seth Curry. ... Virginia associate head coach Ritchie McKay served as the Flames' head coach from 2007 to 2009. ... Redshirt sophomore Malcolm Brogden, who missed all of last season with a foot injury, leads Virginia in scoring this season at 12.3 ppg. ... Virginia ranks second nationally in scoring defense, giving up 49.8 ppg. ... Liberty is one of six in-state opponents Virginia will play this season. ... Liberty graduate assistant Solomon Tat was a four-year letter-winner at Virginia and played under Tony Bennett in his final season. ... Liberty will be back in action Tuesday against Missouri State while Virginia will be at home against Hampton. Both of these games are part of the Corpus Christi Challenge.
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