Through all the testing, masks and COVID-19 protocols, many didn’t think the 2020-21 college basketball season was going to happen.
Virginia guard Trey Murphy III never expected to play for a different reason. The 6-foot-9 transfer from Rice only found out Tuesday the NCAA had granted his request for immediate eligibility.
On Wednesday, Murphy scored a game-high 21 points in 17 minutes off the bench as the No. 4 Cavaliers opened the season with an 89-54 victory against Towson at the Bubbleville event in Uncasville, Conn.
Murphy and Virginia (1-0) will play their second game at Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday afternoon against the San Francisco Dons (1-1). The Cavaliers have won nine straight games dating back to the end of last season.
“When (coach Tony Bennett) told me I just started smiling from ear to ear,” Murphy said. “You couldn’t really see it, because I had my mask on, but me and Coach Bennett, we had a nice (conversation). And then I walked back into the room, and I feel like the team had a little bit of an idea, because they saw Coach Bennett smiling and they saw me smiling through my mask. I was really happy.”
Murphy averaged 13.7 points and 5.5 rebounds in 29 games (23 starts) at Rice in 2019-20 and made 139 3-pointers in two seasons with the Owls.
He connected on 7 of 9 shots (6 of 8 3-pointers) Wednesday against the Tigers. His only two-point basket was a contested dunk, which he turned into a three-point play amid a 22-0 second-half run by UVA.
Virginia’s more celebrated transfer, senior Sam Hauser, also made 7 of 9 shots from the floor and finished with 19 points and eight rebounds in his Cavaliers debut. Hauser scored 1,282 points and started 96 of his 101 games at Marquette before sitting out the 2019-20 season under NCAA transfer guidelines.
“I’m in a little different situation than Trey,” Hauser said. “All of last year I was chomping at the bit to get back on the court and play with these guys. It’s a relief to be back out there playing with my new teammates. There was a lot of emotions running through my head, yesterday and this morning before the game, but I’m just excited that we’re able to play, and I hope everything works out so we can play Friday again.”
San Francisco split its first two games in Bubbleville, losing 76-68 to UMass Lowell on Wednesday before posting a 79-68 win Thursday against Towson.
Junior guard Khalil Shabazz scored 31 points against UMass Lowell and senior guard Jamaree Bouyea led USF with 20 points against Towson.
The Dons were picked to finish fifth this season in the West Coast Conference by the league’s coaches. Bouyea and sophomore forward Josh Kunen are the lone returning starters from a team that finished 22-12 in head coach Todd Golden’s first season in 2019-20.
–Field Level Media