StLou's Previews: Savannah State Tigers

Savannah State Tigers

Virginia coasts into the holidays with the first of two straight cupcakes, catching its breath before diving into ACC play at the end of the month. Next up is the fastest team in D-1, MEAC also-ran Savannah State... will the drastic contrast in styles keep this game somewhat interesting?

Game Details:

Date/Time: Tuesday, December 19th, 7:00 PM ET
Location: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA

What 'They' Say

Vegas: No Line Yet
TAPE: Ranks Savannah St #316, predicts a 101-57 UVA win, 100% confidence
KenPom: Ranks Savannah St #331, predicts a 95-59 UVA win, 99.9% confidence


Depth Chart:


PG #3 Zach Sellers, 6-1 175, SO
25.4 mpg, 9.3 ppg, 3.7 apg, 34% 3P%
SG #1 Austin Dasent, 6-3 190, SR 
21.2 mpg, 9.5 ppg, 1.9 apg, 39% 3P% 
SF #22 Dexter McClanahan, 6-5 180, JR 
25.6 mpg, 14 ppg, 1.8 apg, 32% 3P% 
PF #5 Javaris Jenkins, 6-6 205, SR 
16.2 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 42% FG% 
C #10 Maricus Glenn, 6-10 235, SR 
12.4 mpg, 2.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 0.4 bpg 

Key Reserves


#55 Ty'lik Evans, 5-7 175, JR
17.6 mpg, 7.9 ppg, 2.2 apg, 24% 3P%
SG #14 Alante Fenner, 6-5 180, SR 
25.1 mpg, 11.4 ppg, 2.3 apg, 25% 3P% 
G/F  #30 Jahir Cabeza, 6-5 190, SR 
14.4 mpg, 4.9 ppg, 0.3 apg, 28% 3P% 
F/C #2 Ralueke Orizu, 6-8 180, FR 
12.8 mpg, 4.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 49% FG% 


The ABC's of SVST:

A) This is the fastest team in the country, #1 out of 351 in both Adjusted Tempo (84.1 possessions a game), and offensive possession length (a brief 11.9 seconds). Compare that to Virginia, literally at the other end of the spectrum, last in AdjT (60.9 possessions).  All they do is run. Sometimes we see running teams that see UVA's defense get back to defend and then slow things up and engage their half-court offense. Savannah State, however, is unapologetically chuck and duck, and even against a set defense is going to look to shoot quick, regardless of whether it's a good shot.

B) They score a lot of points, but not because they're at all efficient. Their effective field goal percentage of 45.5% is in the bottom 50 nationally. They're only 30% from long range, only 46% from inside the arc. They have more shots blocked than anyone nationally. The only real threats are SG Dasent, who is hitting a very respectable 43% from deep (27-63 on the year) and PF Jenkins who's hitting 75% at the rim. D them up, though, and the rest of the team is ill equipped to pick up the slack.

C) As bad as their offense is, their defense is even worse. Kenpom has them #340th nationally in defensive efficiency, giving up 113.8 points per 100 possessions. They do make an honest attempt at pressing, and are respectable in generating turnovers. But beat that press, and teams are scoring in buckets. They've given up 100 points in 8 of their 13 games so far. The 62% they allow on 2-pointers is dead last nationally.

Their season to date:

Savannah State is 3-10 on the year. Two of their three wins are over D-2 teams Middle Georgia State and Carver, their lone D-1 win is over Alabama St. They've lost to four ranked teams this year, Cincinatti, Wichita State, Texas A&M, and Baylor, by margins from 20 to 43 points. 

Keys to getting the win:

1) Feast on the offensive glass. They're almost dead last nationally in defensive rebounding percentage, giving up second chances on 42% of their opponents' misses. There's no excuse for Mamadi and Zay not to punish the undersized, less athletic, and less disciplined Tigers on any misses, either in the half court or on the break.

2) Get into a rhythm going to the rim. No need to get fancy in this game; just break the press and make controlled but aggressive drives, both in the break and out of the sets. Remember Nigel Johnson delighting the crowd on the break vs Lehigh? We ought to be in for more of the same. 

3) Stifle their break while maintaining rebounding position. Again, nothing fancy, just our bread and butter transition D should ensure their shooting percentages are dismal. The key is going to be clearing the defensive glass effectively after their hurried misses, as we may not be established in our rebounding assignments when the quick shot first goes up. Second chance points are going to be their only prayer for hanging in this one.



Playing these teams ranked worse than 200 (like Austin Peay), the win is essentially guaranteed. We're watching this game to see how big the margin is, how efficient everyone looks, and of course how good the freshmen look in extended run. I'm especially curious how Huff looks, as a running team like this isn't an ideal matchup for him. But if Huff can acquit himself on D, he's going to prove a matchup nightmare for the Tigers. And of course, just get everyone out healthy.

Hoos win - 85-45.