UVA welcomes Texas Southern to JPJ for non-conference tilt

By Scott Ratcliffe

uva basketball

Photo: UVA Athletics

Virginia enters tonight’s non-conference matchup against Texas Southern with a hole to fill in the starting lineup after Isaac McKneely left Tuesday’s game and didn’t return. McKneely wore a boot on his left foot as he watched from the bench for the rest of the game. His status for tonight’s game is unknown.

Georgetown transfer Dante Harris got the nod to begin the second half of an 80-51 win over North Carolina A&T. Harris, who started 50 games for the Hoyas across two seasons, wound up playing 25 minutes against the Aggies, producing 2 points (0 for 2 from the field), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.

Tony Bennett could also look to senior Taine Murray, who played 23 minutes and put up a season-high 7 points and knocked down 1 of his 2 3-point attempts.

McKneely is averaging 10.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game, and has connected on 8 of his 14 attempts from 3-point range (57 percent) so far this season. He’s one of four Wahoos averaging double figures in scoring — Reece Beekman (11.3 ppg), Jacob Groves (10.7) and Leon Bond III (10.0) are the other three.

The Cavaliers (3-0) will see the level of competition step up a notch over the next two weeks, with a trip to participate in the Fort Myers Classic next week (Wisconsin, SMU and West Virginia) before returning home for the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge against No. 13 Texas A&M, followed by the ACC opener against Syracuse.

Texas Southern (0-2) was blown out by New Mexico, 92-55, before giving Arizona State a scare on the road last Saturday, ultimately falling, 63-52. The Tigers check in at No. 226 overall in the latest KenPom ratings (114th Adjusted Defense; 312th Adjusted Offense). UVA, by comparison, is 25th overall (21st defensively, 29th offensively).

TSU head coach Johnny Jones (385-309 career W-L record) is in his sixth season with the program after stops at LSU (2012-17), North Texas (2001-12) and Memphis (1999-2000). He has led the Tigers to the SWAC Tournament championship in each of the past two seasons.

Texas Southern is led by senior guards Jonathan Cisse and PJ Henry, who are each averaging 9.5 points per contest. The Tigers have made the last three NCAA tournament fields.

Tip-off for tonight’s game at John Paul Jones Arena is set for 7 p.m., and it will be televised on ACC Network. In an interesting twist, former Wahoo Cory Alexander — who found himself in some hot water during the Florida game last week with Bennett after a controversial call — will be the analyst for tonight’s game alongside play-by-play man Doug Sherman. The Cavaliers are a 23.5-point favorite, according to Caesars Sportsbook.