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No. 22 Virginia faces another test at Memphis

no.-22-virginia-faces-another-test-at-memphis

Two teams coming off nail-biting victories meet Tuesday night when No. 22 Virginia visits Memphis.

Reece Beekman scored the final four points of the game Saturday as the Cavaliers (9-1) edged Northeastern 56-54 and stretched their winning streak to five games.

Jaykwon Walton made two free throws with 13 seconds left and the Tigers (8-2) held on for a 79-77 win to hand No. 13 Clemson its first loss of the season Saturday.

Virginia and Memphis both took advantage of opponents’ mistakes and kept the miscues to a minimum.

The Cavaliers scored 19 points off 17 turnovers by the Huskies and only turned the ball over five times. Beekman finished with 21 points, banking in a short jumper with 5.1 seconds left for the winning basket.

Memphis scored 17 points off 15 Clemson turnovers while turning the ball over just six times to win its third straight game. David Jones led four Memphis players in double figures with 22 points.

Tuesday’s meeting in Memphis is just the second between the two programs. Virginia defeated the Tigers 78-60 in Raleigh, N.C., in the Round of 32 at the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

It will be a clash of contrasting philosophies, with the Cavaliers averaging 66.8 points per game and giving up 53.3 per game, second best in Division I. The Tigers average 79.6 points and allow 74.4 per game.

“Great opportunity,” Beekman said. “Kind of different styles. We’re going up against their fast pace … so it’s just gonna be a battle.”

Beekman leads Virginia at 12.5 points per game, while Isaac McKneely is scoring at a 12.3 clip and is shooting 55 percent from 3-point range. Beekman leads the team in assists (5.7) and steals (2.7).

The Cavaliers trailed Northeastern by six points at the break and fell behind by 13 early in the second half. McKneely made two 3-pointers to help fuel the comeback.

“They had that game,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “We had it for a stretch. That’s just one of those kind of smash-mouth games that (came down to the) last man standing, and plays had to be made.”

Memphis endured a similar slugfest against Clemson to pick up its third win in as many tries this season against ranked opponents. The Tigers beat then-No. 20 Arkansas on Nov. 23 in the Battle 4 Atlantis and defeated then-No. 21 Texas A&M 81-75 on the road on Dec. 10.

Jones leads Memphis with 20.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game and Jahvon Quinerly averages 13.7 points and a team-high 4.9 assists per game.

Coach Anfernee Hardaway’s Tigers are 11-2 against Power 5 opponents over the past two seasons heading into this meeting with Virginia of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Memphis attempts 60.7 field goals per game, compared to 52.8 for Virginia. The Tigers will likely deploy the same strategy that worked against Clemson.

“We worked all week on getting the ball up and down the court as fast as we could, and it worked,” Hardaway said after Saturday’s win. “At the end of the game, (the Clemson players) were exhausted.”

Virginia’s style may be deliberate, but the Cavaliers have actually enjoyed tremendous success under Bennett when they get out and run. Virginia is 162-11 in his tenure when scoring 70-plus points, including 5-0 this season.

–Field Level Media

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