Wahoo Preview: #5 Virginia vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore: Jerry Ratcliffe

By Scott Ratcliffe

Uva basketball

Photo: UVA Athletics

After a successful weekend in Las Vegas, Virginia returns to John Paul Jones Arena on Friday night to take on Maryland-Eastern Shore (6 p.m., ACC Network).

The Cavaliers (4-0) jumped 11 spots to No. 5 in the most recent AP poll after tackling then-No. 1. 5 Baylor and then-no. 19 Illinois last week, earning the Continental Tire Main Event championship belt in the process.

Tournament MVP Reece Beekman led the Wahoos to be named ACC Player of the Week for averaging 13.5 points, 6.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals against the Bears and Fighting Illini.

Virginia head coach Tony Bennett recorded a perfect 14-0 against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opponents, and his UVA teams posted a record 76-15 in his 14 seasons in November. Bennett needs just seven more wins to overtake Terry Holland (326) as the Cavaliers’ all-time top manager.

With 23 more minutes played, UVA’s Kihei Clark would overtake Bryant Stith (4,391) for second in school history. London Perrantes holds the top spot with 4,425 minutes. Clatrk also needs 14 points to pass Devin Smith for 43rd place on the school’s all-time scorer list.

Clark has played in 132 career games – currently level on points with Ralph Sampson, Jim Miller and Isaiah Wilkins in ninth place on that list, and if he stays healthy he should see Perrantes and Mike Tobey first (138) by the turn of the new surpass year.

UMES (2-3) pulled off a two-game sled on Wednesday with a 70-59 home win over Marist. The Hawks finished last season with a record of 11-16 (their first double-digit overall since 2016-17) and are 0-3 in 2022-23 so far. They have lost seven of their last nine games away from home, dating back to last season.

UMES has not experienced a successful season since the 2015 campaign. The Hawks were predicted to finish sixth in the MEAC preseason vote. Senior guard Da’Shawn Phillip was named to the second All-MEAC team while grad forward Nathaniel Pollard Jr. was selected to the third team.

UMES ranked fifth in the nation in steals and 10th in forced turnovers in 2021-22 and returns with eight players from last year’s team, including three high-ranked starters – Phillip (11.0 ppg), Pollard (9 .8 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and leading scorer Zion Stile (12.8 ppg).

The Hawks come into tonight’s game 315th overall (out of 363 Division I schools) in the latest KenPom ratings (345th on adjusted offense; 239th on adjusted defense). Virginia is a 29-point favorite to defeat the Hawks, according to Caesars Sportsbook.