COLUMBIA, S.C. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Virginia players say they slept well on Friday night after rallying past Gardner-Webb in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
With that victory, the Cavaliers advanced to the second round of the bracket for the fifth time in six years. The only exception in that stretch -- last year's historic loss to No. 16 seed UMBC in the opening round.
UVA avoided repeating that dubious history on Friday afternoon. Several reporters raised the question on Saturday of whether there was any relief that came with getting past the Runnin' Bulldogs.
The Wahoos were quick to point out that it was only the first round -- and that an Oklahoma team that put 95 points on the board against Ole Miss on Friday awaits UVA on Sunday night.
“The outside world is always going to try to put pressure on you, and sometimes you can find yourself putting pressure on yourself. But we’re just trying to have – Coach was referencing Friday Night Lights. ‘Clear eyes, full hearts,'" UVA junior guard Kyle Guy said. "So just trying to focus on what’s important. This year we got the job done, so just looking forward to playing Oklahoma.”
“I’ve never been to the Sweet 16. I’ve never been to the Elite Eight. Definitely never been to the Final Four," said UVA junior guard Ty Jerome. "So for me it’s like, getting out of the first round is good. It’s awesome. You can’t take it for granted because you play a good team every round. But everyone’s really excited to play tomorrow.”
The early scouting report on the Sooners from the UVA locker room on Saturday was that they were big and athletic. Some players compared Oklahoma to Florida State, who beat the Cavaliers in last week's ACC semifinals.
UVA players acknowledged that the short window for preparation comes with advancing in the NCAA Tournament. Some also pointed out that the Cavaliers went 3-0 in Saturday-Monday turnaround situations during ACC play -- winning at North Carolina, at Virginia Tech and at Syracuse after playing at home just two days prior to each of those games.
“I’m sure Coach has said that the schedule didn’t do us any favors, or the ACC didn’t do us any favors," Guy said. "But actually it turns out that they did us a great favor in preparing us for March.”
“I mean, that’s the tournament. You’ve got a day to prepare, or on the front end of it you have a few days," said UVA senior center Jack Salt. "It’s hard on the players, hard on the coaches, but everyone’s in the same boat. So you’re not really to a disadvantage.”
“We know what it’s going to be. We know we might be a little tired, we might have to fight through a little fatigue," said UVA sophomore guard De'Andre Hunter. "But the coaches have done a great job preparing us in the past, so I know they’re going to do a great job today preparing us, so we’re going to be ready.”