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Harris leads Virginia past Navy, 67-42

The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Virginia basketball fans can sleep easier now: Joe Harris is back.

After scoring just one point on Saturday at Davidson, the 6-foot-6 senior guard had 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field as the Cavaliers routed Navy 67-42 Tuesday.

Harris, the team's top scorer last season at 16.3 points per game, was averaging just eight points per contest in the first three games.

"I don't think about going out there and trying to get a lot of points necessarily," Harris said. "The most important thing I was thinking about tonight was that we came out flat against Davidson on the offensive and defensive end."

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said, "He scored only one point in the Davidson game, but he did some good things. His shots will come. He shot the ball real well in practice (Monday). He got his stroke going from (3-point range). We need Joe to do that. When he was not scoring as much (at Davidson), other guys stepped up."

Navy (2-3) put 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Kendall Knorr on Harris for most of the first half, but Harris had 11 points by the break and was able to find big men inside for layups. All three of his assists came in the first half.

"He is a pretty big guard. I thought we did pretty good (defensively) at the beginning" against Harris, said Navy junior guard Brandon Venturini, who had a team-high 15 points.

Navy coach Ed DeChellis added about Harris. "He is going to score against anybody. He's not a first-team all-ACC player for nothing."

The Cavaliers (3-1) had plenty of firepower besides Harris.

Forward Anthony Gill came off the bench to score 18 points for Virginia, shooting 8-for-9 from the field. He was held scoreless in a loss to nationally ranked VCU at home on Nov. 12.

Cavaliers guard Malcolm Brogdon added 13 points, and forward/center Mike Tobey had 13 points with eight boards in his first start of the year.

"He can score. That is important for us," Bennett said of Tobey.

Said Tobey: "It's always nice to start, but like coach Bennett said -- it doesn't really mean much with the depth on our team."

Virginia forward Akil Mitchell added five points, five rebounds and a team-high four assists.

Will Kelly had seven points for Navy, and sophomore point guard Tilman Dunbar had five points and four assists.

"It was very important to get off to a good start," said DeChellis, whose team was not able to do that while falling behind 17-7. "Virginia is a very good basketball team. They will do well in the ACC. We had some wide-open shots in the first five minutes of the game and did not make them."

Virginia made just one of six free throws in the first half but was 15-for-26 from the field and led by as many as 18 points in the first half.

On the night, Navy made just 33.3 percent of its shots from the field, and the Midshipmen were outrebounded 40-19.

"There was not much positive for us," Venturini said.

On the down side for the Cavaliers, they finished 3-for-15 from 3-point range and 4-for-11 from the foul line.

"A couple of guys looked anxious at the free-throw line," Bennett said.

Even so, the taller Cavs got little resistance from Navy, which played its first game at the John Paul Jones Arena.

"I thought we defended real well in the first half," Bennett said. "(Navy) struggled, offensively, to shoot the ball. I thought out guys adjusted and guarded well. I liked our defensive commitment."

NOTES: The Cavaliers host in-state foe Liberty of the Big South Conference on Saturday. Navy hosts Maryland-Baltimore County on Saturday. ... The Midshipmen were picked to finish last out of 10 teams in the Patriot League this season ... Navy sophomore F Jerome Alexander is from Radford, Va., less than two hours west of Charlottesville ... The last time Navy played Virginia was Feb. 16, 1974, with the Cavs winning 91-72. Virginia is now 33-12 in the series, which began during the 1909-10 season ... Virginia F Akil Mitchell and Navy F Worth Smith were high school teammates in Charlotte, N.C. Smith entered the game with a team-high average of 10.3 points per contest.

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