t was earnestly called a tuneup for Virginia. Actually, it was more of a Simonize. And this was some pretty glossy stuff for Sampson and Company.
The Cavaliers, ranked No. 1 in the polls, revved up to a 57-19 halftime lead, then shifted into cruise control tonight, defeating Johns Hopkins, 124-60, in a first-round game of the Cavalier Classic in two-thirds full University Hall.
Virginia will play Virginia Commonwealth, which defeated George Mason, 78-67, in tonight's second game, for the tournament title Saturday at 9 p.m.
Ralph Sampson had 25 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots, all neatly compressed into 20 minutes. "I know what I have to do and I just try to come out and do it quietly," Sampson said.
Freshman Ken Lambiotte scored 17 and reserve Dan Merrifield had 13. Of the familiar names, Tim Mullen had 12 points, Craig Robinson 11 and Othell Wilson 10 points. Double figures, six times over.
The Cavaliers set three school records and tied a fourth. Their 124 points broke the mark set in a 118-84 victory over Brigham Young-Hawaii last year. By making 51 of 75 shots, they broke the mark for field goals and shooting percentage (68 percent). The 64-point margin of victory tied a record.
"I thought the key to the game was that we played well defensively," said Coach Terry Holland. He had many things from which to choose.
Johns Hopkins is a Division III team. Very much so, in fact. The Blue Jays committed 30 turnovers. They committed 19 in the first half, all 11 players having at least one. All of which sent first-year Coach Ed Doherty into pained benchside contortions. And by the second half, it was apparent why his nickname is "Nap."
"It was a real good experience for our kids," Doherty admitted, somewhat strangely. Perhaps he knew that Virginia is a bit different than Gallaudet, a team his Jays sent packing in a 108-76 victory last week. "All we could do was go out and play tonight," Doherty said.
A full-court press, which evolved into a half-court trap, determined the essentials for Virginia. Ricky Stokes, who had nine points and three steals, and fellow guard Wilson kept on pressing, stealing and breaking away.
The Cavaliers flashed through stretches of 14-0 and 10-0 in the first half. Johns Hopkins never got more than one basket in a row during the half. And poor John Clayton, at 6 feet 6 the Blue Jays' tallest starter, had to cover 7-4 Sampson.
Afterward, Holland kept using words like concentration and execution, of which the Cavaliers had plenty. Then, someone mentioned the compassion and Holland said, "If they had played exceptionally well, we would have had a ballgame."
One familiar player, sophomore forward Jim Miller, did not play because his cornea had been scratched when a ball hit his eye prior to practice. The injury is not believed to be serious, but Miller probably will not play Saturday. His right eye was heavily bandaged.
George Mason Coach Joe Harrington kept using words like opportunity and rebounds. His team didn't grab much of either.
The Patriots were outrebounded, 33-20. And that was too much to overcome.
Even though sharp shooting by Carlos Yates (24 points) and Andy Bolden (17) kept the Patriots close, 26-22, at the half, and they charged back from a 16-point deficit with seven minutes left to 57-50 with 3:31 to play, VCU held on.
"We lost a lot of opportunities in the end," said Harrington, whose team did not repeat last year's 81-68 first-round upset. VCU's Michael Brown (23 points) and Calvin Duncan (20 points) made certain of that.