After an upset loss to Delaware in the Preseason NIT in mid-November, Virginia was just 1-2 and Cavalier fans were preparing for a long season.
But the Virginia team that walked off the court Saturday after a commanding win over Mississippi Valley State, the Cavs seventh victory in a row, is a much different looking team than the squad that lost to the Blue Hens in November.
During that span the Wahoos have gone on the road and taken down a highly-ranked Wisconsin team and have held their last two opponents, Tennessee and MVST to under 40 points.
Now Tony Bennett's team enters a long 11-day exam break. The Cavs won't hit the court again until December 19 when they host Morgan State.
"You do, when you're playing well you want to keep playing but it's always this way this time of year and you just try to make the most of it," Bennett explained. "And you try to make the most of it in practice. You can develop some things when you don't have a game that far in between, you can really try to develop some skills."
The rest will be invaluable to guys like senior point guard Jontel Evans, who re-aggravated a foot injury in the win over Tennessee.
Evans did not play against MVST and Bennett says there's no fracture or pain, but Evans is in a boot and is scheduled for an x-ray at the end of the break.
"It gives us some rest," sophomore forward Darion Atkins said of the break. "I feel like it's long overdue. We've had so many close games and we need this. Once we have this break we'll come back more energized, more alert and more focused."
Atkins and fellow frontcourt standout Akil Mitchell have led the cavs in the early going. Mitchell in particular has stood out, notching several double-doubles during the streak.
"Our coaches do a great job making sure we're locked in, we're focused day in and day out. I feel like this team perhaps is a lot more focused than we've had in the past," Mitchell said. "It just comes down to me on the leadership end and the coaches to make sure my teammates are ready to go."
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