Jerome helping team even off the floor

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- For the first time in his Virginia basketball career, Ty Jerome watched Saturday's win from the sidelines without entering the game.

The junior point guard tweaked his back in Tuesday's overtime win at NC State, and still played a team-high 41 minutes in that win. He entered John Paul Jones arena for Saturday's game wearing a Virginia track suit, behind the rest of the team.

Tony Bennett said he gave Jerome some advice pregame to deal with sitting out.

"Did tell him before the game, hey talk to these guys," the Cavaliers head coach said.

Jerome took that to heart.

One time I came to the huddle and he had something on the white board," Bennett said, "and I was going to say... not that far. But actually I trust him that way."

Jerome is averaging career-highs in points (13.0), rebounds (4.4), steals (1.6) and assists (5.0). His five assists per game are good for third in the ACC.

"He was doing the same thing he always does," said junior guard Kyle Guy, "being a vocal leader. Pulled me and Dre aside a couple times, I'm sure he pulled the other players aside too to have some one-on-ones."

"Of course he had to, I said, you've got to use your eyes," Bennett added. "Well use your eyes today and lead in ways that you can."

Freshman Kihei Clark started in Jerome's place, making his sixth career start. Clark, working his way back from a wrist injury has been able to learn from Jerome this season.

"Just communicating to all the guys during time outs," Clark said. "Drawing up plays. Just communicating to us what he saw from the bench because he's got a different perspective."

"He's a tremendous leader," Guy added, "and he showed why he can be a tremendous leader even if he's not playing."