CHARLOTTESVILLE, DEC. 3 -- Still smarting from a weekend that included some miserable shooting and a home loss to Rhode Island, the Virginia Cavaliers needed to win and to right some wrongs tonight. They did both with a mechanical 87-51 victory over North Carolina-Wilmington before 5,500 in University Hall.

Freshman John Crotty, making his first collegiate start as Coach Terry Holland went to a three-guard alignment for most of the game, led the Cavaliers (2-1) with 20 points. John Johnson had 15 as Virginia shot 57 percent from the field after missing its first six attempts.

"We got excellent shots and we finally started making them," Holland said. "The way we started, I was a little worried the cold streak might continue."

The Cavaliers shot just 38 percent in their first two games, and the loss to Rhode Island was their second to a nonconference opponent in 59 home games. "We definitely had something to prove to ourselves," said guard Richard Morgan, who scored 12 points.

The three-guard lineup proved effective enough for Holland to vow to stay with it. "We'll use it as long as we keep winning," he said.

Larry Houzer led UNC-Wilmington (0-2) with 21 points and seven rebounds.

The Cavaliers were methodical but efficient in easing out to a 15-point halftime lead. Johnson and Morgan, who came into the game as Virginia's leading scorers but were shooting just 38 and 42 percent, started slowly again as the Seahawks led, 6-4, behind a pair of inside baskets by center Tim Brewer.