CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Nigel Johnson got an early heads-up that Virginia was going to need his spark on Saturday. The 16th-ranked Cavaliers, perhaps shaking off cobwebs after a 10-day break for exams, got off to a slow start against Davidson. "Two minutes into the game one of my coaches was telling us, telling me 'Just be ready. We're going to need you early,'" Johnson said. "I could see that we got off to a slow start so I just wanted to go in there and get an energy boost going and get us on a run."
UVA cruises past Davidson
Johnson did that, and more, scored 14 of his 22 points in the first half as the Cavaliers gathered themselves and beat Davidson 80-60. "You see his speed and his burst and getting down the floor — a couple of steals," coach Tony Bennett said. "I like what I saw from him and we needed it all."
Devon Hall added a career-high 20 points and Kyle Guy scored 14 of his 19 in the second half for the Cavaliers (9-1), who were playing for the first time since losing 68-61 to No. 11 West Virginia on Dec. 5. The Cavaliers were 10 for 18 from 3-point range and committed just six turnovers.
The Wildcats (4-4), also playing for the first time in 11 days, got 20 points from Peyton Aldridge and 12 from Oskar Michelsen. They made only 8 of 26 3-point attempts and turned the ball over an uncharacteristic 13 times leading to 15 points for Virginia.
Coach Bob McKillop said Virginia wore the Wildcats down, not only with their defense, but with a series of screens and curls to get players free on offense. "Everyone talks about what great defenders they are in the gaps, and they are. They're extraordinary," McKillop said. "Their ball pressure ... got deflections and forced us to dribble into the gaps."
Davidson led 18-11 with 9 minutes left in the first half, but Guy hit a 3-pointer as Virginia started to shake off its rust. Guy's basket sparked a 26-11 burst to end the half. Johnson scored 11 points in the run, and Hall hit two 3-pointers. The Cavaliers led 37-29 at halftime and by as many as 21 in the second half. "This is a very dangerous team this year," McKillop said. "They've always been dangerous, but particularly this year."