ACC Basketball

Virginia Wins ACC Regular Season

anthony-gill-gill

WHAT JUST HAPPENED:
The Virginia Cavaliers finally got a taste of their own medicine as they couldn’t buy a basket with a winning lottery ticket. It took Tony Bennett’s squad 8:15 seconds to score their first basket and they wouldn’t score again until the 6:06 mark, yet because they can play a little defense themselves, Syracuse was not able to make Virginia pay and despite giving up just 2 points for the games first 14 minutes, once the Cavs made that second basket, the Orange were up just 15-5.

Once the ice was broke though, there was nothing to keep the ball out of the bucket, as Virginia would score on their next nine possessions in the half and the next five to start the second half. The Cavaliers would score on 16 of 17 possessions and an early 13-point deficit was a 40-27 lead and Syracuse would never get the score back under double digits, as Virginia won it, 59-47.

FIVE DEEP THOUGHTS:

  • Who would have thought that it would be Evan Nolte who would get Virginia rolling. The man who replaced Justin Anderson and hits just over 20% of his threes, nailed a long three to get things rolling. He would also get things going in the second half, hitting a three 15 seconds in.
  • While Nolte’s shot was the catalyst, the real reason Virginia was able to rally was the play of guards Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes. The problem early on for the Cavaliers was that their guards were just standing deep outside the arc, passing and passing and passing. This led to bad late in the clock decision making and turnovers. It wasn’t until Borgdon finally lowered his shoulder and attacked the crack in the 2-3 zone. Eventually, Perrantes followed suit and suddenly they were kicking out to open shooters. Brogdon and Perrantes each finished with 10 points, while the latter earned a double-double with 10 assists.
  • People hate low scoring games in college basketball and I get it. It’s not like I love 47-45 scores, but when you watch Virginia play defense, it’s a work of art. If you’re not that familiar, here was one great defensive possession with about 10 minutes to go in the game. Syracuse works the ball inside to Christmas, who is in decent position. Yet, Anthony Gill, playing the 4, scurries over and he and Mike Tobey have him sealed off away from the basket. At the same moment, Nolte, who is playing the 3, leaves his man standing at the wing to undercut Tyler Roberson, who was open for a split second. At the same time, Virginia’s guards do not leave their men, one standing at the top of the key, the other on the wing on the same side with Christmas. The only open player is B.J. Johnson who is still on the wing, way on the other side. Christmas turns and heaves him the ball. However, by the time it reaches him, Nolte is back on Johnson and Gill is back on Roberson underneath in perfect block out position. Gbinije puts up a late three, misses, Gill rebound. Perfection.
  • It’s not like the Orange couldn’t figure out the Cavaliers defense, it’s just that they don’t have the ability to beat it. Trevor Cooney hit a pair of threes, although one was a lucky bank from no-man’s land, but he and everyone else couldn’t make Virginia pay for doubling Christmas. They were just 4-for-19 from deep. Michael Gbinije tried to penetrate, playing point guard for most of the night, but Malcolm Brogdom, arguable the ACC’s best on-ball defender, shut him down (2-for-11 from the field). Rakeen Christmas was productive early against the smaller Darion Atkins, but Mike Tobey came in and played a solid game on both ends of the floor.
  • Anthony Gill…zone killer. After struggling early (five turnovers for the game), Virginia’s power forward was masterful in the middle of the Syracuse zone, scoring 17 on just 11 shots, grabbing nine rebounds. He did most of his damage just attacking from six-seven feet out, putting up good shots with soft hands or owning the offensive glass (seven offensive rebounds).

RANDOM NOT-SO-DEEP THOUGHTS

  • Three Syracuse players played all 40 minutes, while Rakeem Christmas only sat for one minute to get a standing ovation for playing his last home game in the Carrier Dome. The bench totaled just 10 minutes of action and only Patterson delivered one stat: 1-1 from the field.
  • The Cavaliers average just 8.7 turnovers, but against Syracuse they had 10 in the games first 10 minutes, turning it over on six of their first seven possessions. They finished the game with 20.

NOW WHAT:
Syracuse falls to 18-12 on the year and will not reach 20 wins this season. They are 9-8 in the ACC and they will end their year on the road against NC State on Saturday. Virginia improves t0 28-1 and becomes the first team other than Duke or North Carolina to earn back-to-back regular season titles since the Wolfpack did it back in 1973-74. This weekend’s game at Louisville now becomes meaningless.

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