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Jay Huff wows in debut as UVA romps Austin Peay
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Jay Huff wows in debut as UVA romps Austin Peay

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Austin Peay Virginia Basketball

Virginia forward Jay Huff, who’s 7-foot-1, showcased his versatile skill set in 24 minutes against Austin Peay. He did damage in the post and knocked down two 3-pointers.

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Jay Huff proved worth the wait.

Virginia’s 7-foot-1 stretch forward redshirted last season, and didn’t get in the game in the Cavaliers’ season-opening win Friday.

Monday night against Austin Peay, Huff came off the bench to an enthusiastic ovation from the home crowd at John Paul Jones Arena. As the game wore on, the cheers for Huff only grew louder.

Huff scored 16 points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked five shots in 24 minutes as Virginia ripped Austin Peay, 93-49, putting up the most points it’s scored in Tony Bennett’s nine years with the Cavaliers.

“It had been a long time, so it was good to get out there,” Huff said. “I wasn’t thinking much. I wasn’t thinking about being aggressive or anything. I just kind of went out there and things happened.”

A 3-pointer from the wing, a stick-back dunk, a low-post basket and a tip-in accounted for Huff’s first four career baskets, a showcasing of the inside-outside skills teammates have been praising since last season, when Huff practiced with the team but didn’t play.

Huff’s big debut was part of a veritable offensive explosion by the Cavaliers (2-0) against clearly overmatched Austin Peay (0-2). The Governors committed 12 turnovers in the first 12:07 of the game, falling behind 21-5 when Huff slammed home a missed jumper by teammate Nigel Johnson.

U.Va., which averaged 66.1 points last season, got 19 from senior guard Devon Hall and 14 from sophomore guard Kyle Guy.

De’Andre Hunter, who redshirted last season with Huff, added 13. Graduate transfer Nigel Johnson scored 10.

Virginia improved to 66-2 under Bennett when holding opponents to less than 50 points. As for the offense, what did putting up the most points of his tenure mean to the defensive-minded Bennett?

“Woohoo,” Bennett said. “I really could care less.”

Bennett was pleased to see Huff’s success, especially after the coach kept him on the bench for the opener.

“Jay’s a true servant. He really is,” said Bennett, who told Huff after the UNCG game, “‘You just have to know that I believe in you. I don’t know when it will come, but I believe it will in time.’ ”

Huff’s breakout performance didn’t surprise Austin Peay coach Matt Figger, who had seen Huff at a high school team camp while Figger was an assistant at South Carolina. What did surprise Figger was the 30-plus pounds Huff has added since then.

“The way they’ve changed his body physically is incredible,” Figger said. “The strength coach here, I’m going to tell Tony, he needs to get a raise. My gosh. … I’d seen that when I watched him in team camp, so I knew how good a player he was. I just didn’t realize he got so big and strong.”

Huff hit his first six shots from the floor and finished 7 for 8, hitting both his attempts from beyond the 3-point arc. Like Figger, Huff’s teammates said that, after practicing with Huff for a full year, they knew what to expect from the versatile big man.

“He was great,” Hall said. “Shot it with confidence. To not play and then hop in the game and do that, you have to have some toughness with you, so I was really glad to see him do that.”

Austin Peay, after its very rocky start, settled in some. It committed just seven more turnovers over the final 27:53.

But it never got close. Huff punctuated the blowout with a final, late 3-pointer to get U.Va. to 93, eclipsing the 90 points it scored last season in a win over Grambling State.

FG FT Reb

PEAY M M-A M-A O-T A PF PT

Prtr-Bntn 16 0-2 0-0 1-3 0 4 0

Ugba 26 3-9 3-5 1-3 2 1 10

Glotta 17 1-5 0-0 0-1 0 1 3

Ivory 26 4-6 1-4 0-1 1 2 10

Taylor 22 1-1 2-4 1-4 0 4 4

Gumm 24 6-12 1-2 0-2 0 2 13

Harris 18 0-3 2-2 1-2 0 2 2

Henderson 17 3-4 1-2 2-3 0 3 7

McCarthy 14 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 1 0

Cucak 10 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 3 0

Bernacer 10 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 1 0

Totals 200 18-44 10-19 6-19 6 24 49

Percentages: FG .409, FT .526. 3-Point Goals: 3-12, .250 (Ugba 1-1, Ivory 1-2, Glotta 1-4, Bernacer 0-1, Gumm 0-4). Team Rebounds: 3. Turnovers: 20 (Ivory 5, Cucak 3, Gumm 3, Henderson 3, Ugba 3, Bernacer, Glotta, Harris). Steals: 3 (Bernacer, Gumm, Ugba).

FG FT Reb

VIRGINIA M M-A M-A O-T A PF PT

Wilkins 18 2-3 0-0 2-8 2 2 4

Salt 14 1-1 0-0 1-2 0 4 2

Guy 20 5-9 3-3 0-1 2 1 14

Hall 25 6-9 6-6 0-5 3 1 19

Jerome 15 2-3 0-0 0-0 1 2 5

Huff 24 7-8 0-0 2-4 2 2 16

Hunter 21 3-3 6-7 0-2 1 1 13

Anthony 19 1-3 0-0 0-1 4 2 2

Johnson 17 3-7 3-4 0-0 1 1 10

Diakite 15 2-3 1-2 2-3 0 2 5

Katstra 4 1-2 0-0 0-1 0 0 3

Bartley 4 0-1 0-0 0-1 0 0 0

Gross 4 0-0 0-2 0-1 1 1 0

Totals 200 33-52 19-24 7-29 17 19 93

Percentages: FG .635, FT .792. 3-Point Goals: 8-17, .471 (Huff 2-2, Hunter 1-1, Jerome 1-1, Guy 1-2, Katstra 1-2, Johnson 1-3, Hall 1-4, Anthony 0-1, Bartley 0-1). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocks: 5 (Huff 5). Turnovers: 9 (Salt 3, Diakite 2, Wilkins 2, Jerome, Johnson). Steals: 8 (Guy 2, Hall 2, Johnson 2, Katstra, Wilkins).

Austin Peay 22 27 — 49

Virginia 51 42 — 93

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