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Bennett left unsatisfied with Cavs' win over Bears

The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- A rusty Virginia team still had enough quality to earn its eighth consecutive win, defeating Morgan State 75-57 Wednesday night.

Despite the result, Virginia coach Tony Bennett was not pleased with his team's effort in its first game after an 11-day exam break.

"I thought it was poor," Bennett said. "I thought we were undisciplined. I thought we weren't sound. I thought we didn't respect the game in stretches. Some guys did some good things, but the game is meant to be played a certain way for us."

Virginia (9-2) had to withstand a scoring barrage from the Bears' leading scorer, Dewayne Jackson.

Jackson produced a game-high 32 points on 11-of-16 shooting, finishing one point short of his career high. He also tied the record for the most points scored by a visiting player in the John Paul Jones Arena, which opened in 2006. Talor Battle also had 32 points for Penn State on Nov. 30, 2009.

Jackson made three of five attempts from 3-point range and all seven of his free throws. Morgan State (3-5) did not have another player score in double figures.

"I think I'd like to take the 'W' than have him break that record," Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman said. "He did carry us (Wednesday night), for sure. That's the thing with us. It's been one guy one game, another guy another game. We've got to work to kind of put it all together."

The Cavaliers led 55-36 with 12:30 to play, but the Bears cut the lead to 59-50 with 6:55 to go on an Anthony Hubbard layup, capitalizing on some sloppy play from Virginia.

Virginia true freshman Evan Nolte was fouled as he hit a floater with 6:03 remaining to push the lead back to double digits for good. It was Nolte's first basket of the game.

The Cavaliers had a decisive advantage on the boards, outrebounding the Bears 39-21. Virginia had 23 second-chance points on 16 offensive rebounds.

"I thought their bigs did a good job, and they were active on the boards," Bozeman said. "We have to really rebound for us to be successful. They dominated the boards on us."

Forward Darion Atkins led Virginia with a career-high 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Teammate Akil Mitchell added 15 points and 12 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season.

Atkins said his confidence continues to grow as his sophomore season progresses.

"When I get the ball in my hands, I'm patient with it and try to finish strong as best I can," Atkins said.

Bozeman knows Atkins well. Atkins is dating Bozeman's daughter, who is a student at Virginia.

"My daughter was rooting against me," Bozeman said. "It just wasn't a good night for me."

The Cavaliers' leading scorer on the season, Joe Harris, had 14 points, while guard Paul Jesperson set a career high with 11.

Virginia led 37-28 at halftime, but the Cavaliers had to deal with some adversity in the first half.

Harris was forced to sit the final 13:22 of the first half after picking up two early fouls.

The Bears held a 21-18 lead with 9:15 to play in the opening period thanks to a pair of Jackson free throws. The Cavaliers answered with a 15-0 run over the next 5:37 to take control of the game. Jesperson hit two 3-pointers to start the run.

Bennett talked with Jesperson during the exam break about being more assertive -- within reason.

"Paul was sharp," Bennett said. "We leaned on him, and he kind of got us out of that funk that we were in."

Atkins had a team-high 13 points in the first half, one point shy of his career high for an entire game. Fellow big man Mitchell had eight points, five assists and four rebounds.

Jackson led all scorers with 19 points in the first half on 5-of-7 shooting while making all three of his 3-point attempts. His first-half output was an arena record for a visiting player.

NOTES: Wednesday's game was the second meeting between the schools. Virginia won the first game 85-66 on Nov. 16, 2006, in Charlottesville. ... Morgan State is 1-14 against ACC opponents. The lone win was a 65-66 triumph Jan. 7, 2009, at Maryland. ... Virginia point guard Jontel Evans missed the game as he continues to rehab from a foot injury. The injury has sidelined him for seven games this season.
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