Sun, 23 Jan 2022

James Madison aims to seize opportunity at home vs. Virginia

Field Level Media
07 Dec 2021, 06:55 GMT+10

If James Madison ever is going to beat Virginia, Tuesday night's home contest might be its best shot.

The Dukes (7-2) are off to a 4-0 start this season in Harrisonburg, Va., including wins against Virginia schools Old Dominion and George Mason.

However, the Dukes are also 0-11 in their intrastate rivalry with the Cavaliers (6-3) and lost by 31 points in the most recent meeting in November 2019.

"We know what we are capable of," James Madison guard Vado Morse told the Daily News-Record after a 96-54 victory against Eastern Mennonite last Thursday. "So, we got to come out and play hard no matter who we play. We've got to come out with that intensity."

Takal Molson had 25 points and 11 rebounds, Morse added 15 points and Alonzo Sule added 12 in the lopsided victory. The Dukes held the crosstown Division III Royals to 35.5 percent shooting and forced 27 turnovers, including 16 steals.

James Madison coach Mark Byington led the team to a Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title in his first season in charge in 2020-21. He was Virginia's director of men's basketball operations in 2004-05 and has a master's degree from UVA.

The Cavaliers are coming off a thrilling 57-56 win against Pitt in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener Friday night. Jayden Gardner scored a team-high 15 points, including a last-second jumper that took a couple of bounces on the rim before falling in.

"I think Jayden used all of the rim on that shot -- boing, boing, boing," said Virginia coach Tony Bennett, who is expecting a raucous atmosphere Tuesday night at the 8,500 seat Atlantic Union Bank Center.

"Very good team in a hostile environment," Bennett said of playing at the arena, which opened last year. "We'll have to be ready and keep improving."

The last time these teams met, JMU shot 22.6 percent from the field in a 65-34 loss in Charlottesville on Nov. 10, 2019.

Virginia has won five of the past six clashes by double figures. The closest James Madison has been to beating the Cavaliers was a 53-52 home loss on Dec. 30, 1980, to a Ralph Sampson-led Virginia squad that went on to reach the Final Four.

--Field Level Media

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