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No. 18 Virginia vies to continue sharp shooting vs. Northern Iowa

Nov 11, 2022; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA;  Virginia Cavaliers forward Kadin Shedrick (21) rebounds the ball in front of Monmouth Hawks forward Myles Foster (5) in the first halfat John Paul Jones Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

C-Ville has been Three-Ville so far for No. 18 Virginia, which looks to continues its hot 3-point shooting Monday night when Northern Iowa visits Charlottesville, Va.

After finishing last season ranked 350th in the nation with an average of 5.0 3-point field goals per game, the Cavaliers (2-0) drained 11 triples in their opener against North Carolina Central and 13 more in a lopsided win against Monmouth.

Virginia is shooting 48 percent from behind the arc. Seven players have already made at least one trey and five have connected on three or more, led by Armaan Franklin (6 of 11) and Isaac McKneely (5 of 10).

“Does that guarantee you’re going to be banging shots and shooting at a high percentage (every game)? No, but it opens the floor and the threat is there,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said following Friday night’s 89-42 rout of Monmouth.

McKneely scored a game-high 15 points off the bench and hit four 3-pointers against the Hawks. Fellow freshman Ryan Dunn added 13 points and graduate transfer Ben Vander Plas scored 10.

“He’s got very good vision,” Bennett said of Vander Plas, who made 209 3-pointers in four seasons at Ohio. “He just sees things and boy that makes the game easier for other guys. He creates.”

Virginia is seeking its first 3-0 start since 2019-20 and looking to build momentum for its next game against No. 5 Baylor on Friday in Las Vegas, a clash between the 2019 national champion Cavaliers and 2021 national champion Bears.

Virginia of the Atlantic Coast Conference and Northern Iowa of the Missouri Valley Conference have played once before, with the Cavaliers winning 57-43 at home on Dec. 21, 2013.

The Panthers (1-1) followed up a season-opening 105-49 win against Division III Wartburg with a 68-55 setback on Friday night at Richmond.

The Panthers shot just 32.8 percent from the field and 13.6 percent (3 of 22) from 3-point territory against the Spiders. They trailed by only one point early in the second half before Richmond pulled away with a 23-6 run.

Bowen Born paced UNI with 17 points but missed six of his seven 3-point attempts. Tytan Anderson posted his first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds and Nate Heise added 10 points.

Head coach Ben Jacobson, in his 17th season with the Panthers, has stressed to his young and inexperienced squad that these non-conference games are a time to learn.

“As you go through the year and your guys gain some more experience and you see some different situations, you say, ‘OK, now we’re going to do this,'” Jacobson said, per The Gazette. “There’s a lot of things you learn as you play games.”

Northern Iowa is still playing without senior forward Austin Phyfe, who underwent emergency surgery in June for blood clots in his lungs. The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Phyfe has played in 121 games for the Panthers with 71 starts.

“Without him, (we) don’t have the same size and ability to defend the low block one-on-one,” Jacobson said.

After missing the opener with an ankle injury, Cole Henry played seven minutes off the bench against the Spiders and contributed five rebounds.

–Field Level Media