Virginia beats Providence to win Emerald Coast Classic

Mar 5, 2016; Queens, NY, USA; Providence Friars guard Jalen Lindsey (21) dribbles the ball as St. John's Red Storm forward Ron Mvouika (24) defends during the second half at Madison Square Garden. The Friars won 90-76. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 5, 2016; Queens, NY, USA; Providence Friars guard Jalen Lindsey (21) dribbles the ball as St. John's Red Storm forward Ron Mvouika (24) defends during the second half at Madison Square Garden. The Friars won 90-76. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

NICEVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Providence got physical with No, 7 Virginia and scored 52 points, the most anyone has had this season against the nation’s top-ranked defense. It wasn’t enough.

Virginia beat the Friars 63-52 to win the Emerald Coast Classic on Saturday night.

“Virginia’s very, very fundamentally sound,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. They know each other’s strengths, weaknesses — very, very disciplined team. One of the most disciplined teams that we’ve played against in a long time. … They are going to be hell for somebody to beat.”

London Perrantes, selected the tournament’s most valuable player, and Darius Thompson scored 11 points each to lead the Cavaliers.

Virginia (6-0) had been giving up only 39.2 points per game.

Providence (4-2) topped the 51 that UNC Greensboro scored against the Cavaliers, but had trouble penetrating the tight defense that denies post touches and forces contested jumpers.

Mamadi Diakite added 10 points for Virginia.

Jalen Lindsey led Providence with 18 points. Rodney Bullock added 16, but that was short of his 20.4 average.

“They are physical, really physical, offensively and defensively,” Perrantes said about the Friars.

He said the rough play, though, will only help the Cavaliers prepare for other tough opponents that will be coming up.

Cooley also had some high praise for Perrantes, saying he “may be the most poised player I’ve seen in college basketball in a long, long, long time.”

Virginia coach Tony Bennett credited the Cavaliers’ balance for getting them through some challenging moments in the game including a 9-0 Providence run to start the second half that cut Virginia’s lead to five points.

“It’s not who we play, it’s how we play,” Bennett said. “We played pretty solid, but we had a lapse that could be very costly.”

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: Bolstered by strong performances from bench players Marial Shayok, the team scoring leader averaging 11.2 points going into Saturday’s game, and freshman Kyle Guy, the Cavaliers have shown little affect from the graduation of four players from last season’s 29-win team.

Providence: Losing to a highly touted Virginia team does nothing to take the luster off a strong early season showing. That includes a dramatic come-from-behind 60-51 victory over previously undefeated Memphis in the Emerald Coast semifinals.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

After breezing through four relatively weak opponents to open the season, Virginia did the same in its first major challenge, beating the Big Ten’s Iowa 74-41 in the semifinals Friday. Taking down Providence from the Big East can only enhance the Cavaliers’ chances of moving up from their No. 7 ranking if any of the teams ahead of them stumble.

UP NEXT:

Providence: The Friars host New Hampshire on Wednesday.

Virginia: Host Ohio State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday.

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