Virginia Basketball | NIT Preview: Virginia Hosts Mississippi State in First Round

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia (19-13) hosts No. 3 Seed Mississippi State (18-15) in the first round of the 2022 National Invitation Tournament on Wednesday, March 16. Tipoff at John Paul Jones Arena is set for 7 pm on ESPN2.

For Openers
• UVA will make its 14th NIT appearance and first since advancing to the quarterfinals in 2013.
• Virginia head coach Tony Bennett (Washington State) and Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland (UCLA) coached against each other in the former Pac-10 Conference (now Pac-12).

Broadcast Information
• The Virginia-Mississippi State game will be televised on ESPN2 and streamed online at WatchESPN.com and ESPN App.
• The game will also be broadcast on Virginia Sports Radio Network, VirginiaSports.com and Virginia Sports app.
• Live statistics will be available on VirginiaSports.com and Virginia Sports app.

The Head Coach
• Dean and Markel Families Head Men’s Basketball Coach Tony Bennett has a 314-116 (.730) mark in 13 seasons at UVA and 383-149 (.720) career mark in 16 seasons as a head coach.
• Bennett won his 300th game at Virginia with the 61-43 victory against Lehigh on Nov. 26, 2021.
• The three-time National (2007, 2015 and 2018) and four-time ACC Coach of the Year (2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019) guided the Cavaliers to their 10th ACC regular-season championship in 2020-21.
• In 2018-19, Bennett led the Cavaliers to their first NCAA national championship, a share of their ninth ACC regular-season title and a school-record 35 wins.
• Bennett has led UVA to 10 consecutive postseason appearances (2012-22) and guided the Hoos to seven consecutive NCAA tournaments (2014-21).
• Bennett led the Cavaliers to 30 wins in back-to-back seasons two times (2014-2015 and 2018-19).
• UVA is 161-70 (.700) in ACC play (90-25 at home & 71-45 away), 177-36 (.831) at home and 153-46 (.769) in non-conference action (86 -9 at JPJ) under Bennett.
• Bennett ranks fifth all-time in winning percentage (.700) among ACC head coaches with 100 or more ACC wins.

UVA All-Time in The NIT
• The Cavaliers are 17-11 all-time in 13 NIT appearances, including a pair of championships in 1980 and 1992.
• UVA is 7-4 all-time in the NIT first round.
• The Cavaliers are 10-3 at home in the NIT, including a 2-1 mark at John Paul Jones Arena.
• Virginia associate head coach Jason Williford was a member of the 1992 NIT champion Cavaliers.
• The Cavaliers are 15-8 in NCAA/NIT postseason play under Bennett, including a 2-1 mark in the NIT.
• Bennett is 2-2 all-time in the NIT, including a 68-57 loss at St. Mary’s as head coach at Washington State in 2009.

Hoo Are These Cavaliers?
• The Cavaliers play defense, take good shots, share and take care of the basketball, rebound, and play more defense.
• UVA is led by its backcourt of Kihei Clark (10.3 ppg & 4.2 apg) and Reece Beekman (7.9 ppg, 5.0 apg, 3.8 rpg & 2.1 spg), and the additions of transfers Jayden Gardner (15.3 ppg & 6.6 rpg) and Armaan Franklin (10.9 ppg).
• The Cavaliers added transfers Gardner (East Carolina) and Franklin (Indiana) to fill the void left by standouts Sam Hauser (16 ppg), Jay Huff (13 ppg) and Trey Murphy III (11.3 ppg).
• Gardner averaged 18.5 points and 8.9 rebounds in 79 career games at East Carolina, while Franklin averaged 11.4 points and shot 42.5 percent from 3-point range in 2020-21.
• Francisco Caffaro (4.3 ppg & 4.7 rpg) and Kadin Shedrick (7.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg & 2.0 bpg) anchor the paint. Shedrick has started 17 contests, while Caffaro has started 15.
• Kody Stattmann (36.5% 3FGs), Malachi Poindexter, Taine Murray, Igor Miliĉić Jr. and Carson McCorkle provide perimeter depth off the bench.

Virginia All-Time vs. Mississippi State
• The Cavaliers are 1-2 all-time vs. Mississippi State in a series that dates back to Feb. 25, 1928.
• UVA meets the Bulldogs for the first time since an 86-84 loss on Dec. 29, 1988, in New Orleans.
• UVA defeated Mississippi State 81-68 on Dec. 27, 1963, in Owensboro, Ky.
• The Bulldogs topped the Cavaliers 44-28 on Feb. 25, 1928, in Atlanta, Ga.

Last Time vs. The Bulldogs
• Greg Carter scored 16 points to lead Mississippi State to an 86-84 win against Virginia on Dec. 29, 1988, at the USF&G Sugar Bowl Tournament at the Superdome in New Orleans, La.
• Bryant Stith led UVA with 19 points and John Crotty and Brent Dabbs each added 17.
• Carter led five Bulldogs in double figures as Greg Lockhart scored 14 points and Cameron Burns, Tony Watts and Todd Merritt each added 12 points, respectively.
• MSU outrebounded UVA 42-34 and shot 49.1 percent.

Last Time Out
• Brady Manek scored 21 points to lead No. 3 seed North Carolina to a 63-43 win over No. 6 seed Virginia in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday, March 10.
• Jayden Gardner led Virginia with 17 points.
• UVA’s 34.6 percent field goal shooting marked a season low
• UVA’s 13 first half points were its lowest in a half since scoring 13 in a first half win vs. William & Mary on Dec. 5, 1984.
• UVA shot less than 20 percent in a half (5 of 27 for 18.5%) for the first time since shooting 18.4 percent (5 of 22) vs. California on Dec. 22, 2015.
• UNC outrebounded UVA 46-32, including 25-18 en route to its 33-13 halftime lead.

On The Horizon
• The winner of the Virginia/Mississippi State NIT first round game advances to the second round vs. No. 2 seed North Texas or Texas State on March 19 or 20.
• Tipoff, location and television designation is TBD.

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