Although Virginia lost in the final seconds of its last game, coach Tony Bennett feels his program is heading in the right direction.
The 25th-ranked Cavaliers will try to recover when they face Davidson on Saturday in Charlotte.
Virginia fell to No. 14 VCU 59-56 on Tuesday, as Rams guard Treveon Graham drained a 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds remaining to clinch the victory. Despite the setback, Bennett believes the close finish in an early season meeting with another ranked team proves his program has momentum moving forward.
"I knew going in it would be good for us," Bennett said. "We've got work to do - but we will grow from it. The excitement leading up to it was certainly there and I don't think it disappointed in terms of excitement and quality of the game in terms of the buildup."
Virginia (1-1) must improve its shooting going forward, both from the free throw line and from behind the arc. The Cavaliers went 19 of 33 from the charity stripe, and shot just 42.9 percent from the line in the second half. Guard Malcolm Brogdon had a chance to give his team the lead with 9.7 seconds left, but could only split his two attempts.
"Coach Bennett has been emphasizing free throws every day at practice," forward Darion Atkins said. "Malcolm is one of our best free throws shooters. I don't (know) how he missed his one of two. But even the best free throw shooters miss free throws."
The team's shooting percentage from 3-point range is even worse. After going 4 of 18 from beyond the arc in a season-opening 61-41 win over James Madison, the Cavaliers were 1 of 8 from distance versus the Rams. Senior Joe Harris, Virginia's leading scorer at 11.5 points per game, has hit 2 of 8 3-pointers after shooting 42.5 percent (77 of 181) last season.
Bennett isn't panicking yet, but it is a concern, especially because Virginia hit 38.5 percent of its 3s last season, third-best in the ACC.
"I don't think we're going to set the world on fire with our 3-point shooting or shoot that many," Bennett said. "But we need to have a threat there and that can open up the inside."
Davidson (0-2) enters with shooting questions of its own. The Wildcats are just slightly better than Virginia from 3-point range, making 11 of 42 (26.2 percent). Though they were competitive in Monday's 81-77 home loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the poor accuracy from long range is a problem.
"I know that our team is going to continue to work hard," coach Bob McKillop told the school's official website. "I know that they are going to practice very hard, they are going to listen, and they are going to try and be a better team. But the performance will dictate if all of this hard work has been worth it."
Senior De'Mon Brooks is off to a fast start, averaging 19.0 points on 61.9 percent shooting and 8.5 rebounds for the Wildcats, who haven't opened 0-3 since dropping their first four games in 2009-10.
Virginia is 10-4 all-time against Davidson, and the Cavaliers have won the last six meetings in the series. However, they haven't played since 1991, McKillop's second season on the bench for the Wildcats.
Davidson has lost its last six games against Top 25 foes, including a 111-77 season-opening defeat to No. 4 Duke on Nov. 8.