Virginia defeated Virginia Military tonight the way it was supposed to defeat Towson State and Virginia Commonwealth last weekend. After surprisingly difficult victories on their way to the United Virginia Bank tournament title, the Cavaliers routed VMI, 101-58, before about 7,000 at University Hall.
But it is doubtful the basketball game helped the Cavaliers -- and it certainly didn't help the Keydets. As the teams left the court, Virginia Coach Terry Holland was heard to say to VMI Coach Marty Fletcher, "I'm sorry."
"You don't want it to get out of hand. You don't want to get that kind of differential," said Holland. "Marty Fletcher has a fine team. I know they had a lot of confidence coming into this game. I hope this game won't have a detrimental effect on their team and their program. That's certainly not what we intended."
Virginia quickly ruined VMI's hopes of extending its record to 5-0 and its winning streak against Division I teams to five. After Gay Elmore scored the Keydets' most exciting basket of the night, a jumper from 25 feet with 12:08 to play in the first half that brought his team to within 15-11, VMI would not score another field goal for almost 8 1/2 minutes.
The Cavaliers, on the other hand, scored 12 straight points in the next 5:18 and eventually put together a 17-2 run on their way to securing their 90th victory in 105 meetings with the Keydets. Virginia is now 4-0.
Andrew Kennedy did more than enough damage for Virginia when he scored the last nine points in the 17-2 surge that put the Cavaliers in front, 32-14, with 6:11 left in the first half.
When Darren McDonald scored VMI's first field goal since Elmore's long-range effort, there was only 3:42 remaining before halftime and Virginia was in front, 38-18. The only question left was whether Virginia would double the Keydets' output. In the end, that was Virginia's only failure.
Everybody on the Virginia team contributed. All 12 Cavaliers scored and six finished in double figures, led by sophomore guard John Johnson, who came off the bench to score 19 points on nine-of-12 shooting. Johnson was followed by Tom Sheehey with 16 points, Andrew Kennedy and Olden Polynice with 13 apiece and Mel Kennedy and Richard Morgan with 10 each.
Virginia also dominated the boards, 51-37. Freshman center Jeff Daniel had a game-high 10 rebounds for the Cavaliers.
Virginia was most effective on defense. The same full-court and half-court presses that saved the Cavaliers in a 68-55 victory over Towson State and a 79-75 overtime win over VCU broke this game open.
This likely was the Cavaliers' last breather for a while. In their next three games, they take on Duke, Virginia Tech and Old Dominion.