ACC Basketball

Cavaliers Get Defensive In Win Over FSU

Andrew Shurtleff / AP

WHAT JUST HAPPENED: 
In what we knew was going to be a defensive battle, the Florida State Seminoles and Virginia Cavaliers combined for just 92 points. The game started off as a dogfight, as neither team could hit much of anything. The two teams combining to hit just 17 of 47 shot in the first half, 2-14 from deep, as Virginia held a 22-21 lead. However, the two teams came out firing in the second, scoring 15 each in the first nine minutes of the second half. Yet, after the Cavaliers starting back field went down and out, their defense just stiffened and they pulled away for a 51-41 victory.

FIVE DEEP THOUGHTS:

  • Why does the media and game announcer feel like they have to apologize for Virginia. Who cares how many points they or their opponents score. The offense they run is efficient and the players make some fantastic, highlight reel plays throughout the game. The defense is fun to watch. Sorry, but seeing an opponent struggle to find an open shooter, the clock shot running down, the crowd getting excited…that makes good TV. Yes, 50-50 at halftime is fun too, but it’s not either/or. Stop apologizing.
  • Speaking of defense, what the Cavaliers did to the Seminoles at the end of the game was jaw-dropping. At the 10:34 mark, Florida State’s Jarquez Smith hit a nice jumper from the baseline to get the Seminoles to within one, 36-35. The crowd was a little nervous. We were only a few minutes from the collision that sent Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes to the locker room (the latter had just returned). The Seminoles had scored on seven of their last nine possessions. It was danger time. It was time to play defense. That Virginia did as Florida State would not score another basket, hitting just six free throws in the game’s final 10:33. Stunning.
  •  For a while now Xavier Rathan-Mayes has been the Seminoles best offensive player, especially since he’s cut down on the turnovers. Against the Cavaliers, he struggled early, missing his first four shots, but like any good shooter, he kept putting the ball up and personally kept the game tight, He would hit FSU’s last four shots of the half, scoring 10 points with a nice combination of threes, a layup and a inside the arc jumper. Yet in the second half, he just sat back and launched threes and was held to one bucket in the game’s final 20 minutes.
  • Okay Leonard Hamilton, it’s time to let Boris Bojanovsky have more minutes. He didn’t start against Virginia, although he played 22 minutes, but offensively he can do so much more than either Kiel Turpin and Michael Ojo. He scored twice on perfectly run pick-and-rolls and I’d kill to see more of that, even if he’s thinner than paper and struggles to defend. Don’t care.
  • Let’s talk about the unsung heroes of this Virginia victory. Darion Atkins is typically undersized in the middle, but he has no problem defending and when the team lost their top two players, it was Atkins who demanded the ball in back-to-back possessions and scored both times with his back to basket in the post. Secondly, Anthony Gill continues to be the glue guy, doing what needs to be done. Tonight, Tony Bennett needed his scoring and rebounding and he delivered; 13 points and nine boards (four offensive). Lastly, even when Malcom Brogdon returned, he wasn’t the same player, but the team had Marial Shayok, an athletic ball of energy that wasn’t afraid to put up some shots.

RANDOM NOT-SO-DEEP THOUGHTS:

  • Virginia’s outside troubles continued, as they hit just 1-11 from three, which means they are just 12-61 from deep over their last five games (19.7 percent).
  • Devon Bookert was just awful. 0-8 from the floor, 0-5 from deep, one point, producing an offensive rating of 18 (according to Ken Pom). Wait, how did he get 18 in that rating? I guess three assists to two turnovers means more than I think it should.
  • Virginia won the battle of the foul calls, 20-9. The Cavaliers actually went 17 minutes without being called for a foul, beginning in the first half and ending when Evan Nolte fouled Montay Brandon (on a very questionable call) with 6:47 to go in the game.

WHAT’S UP NEXT: 
Virginia improved to 25-1, 13-1 in the ACC, maintaining that crucial two-game lead over both Notre Dame and Duke. They are 3-0 without Justin Anderson and will be leaving John Paul Jones Arena for the first time since Feb 11 to face Wake Forest for the second time in four games.

At 15-13, Florida State’s NCAA Tournament hopes now rely on a ACC Tournament crown, which is very unlikely. Next up, they can finally end their in-state rivals dream by sweeping them this season on Wednesday night.

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