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Chris Graham: The unlikely UVa. basketball turnaround

Tennesse 87, Virginia 52. Seems like an eternity ago, doesn’t it? UVa. left Knoxville beaten, battered, one of the bigger disappointments in college basketball.

uva-logo-new2Mere prelude.

The ‘Hoos have since won three straight to sit tied atop the ACC standings with #2 Syracuse and Pitt (who at 15-1 is somehow still currently unranked). Two of the three Virginia wins came on the road (at Florida State and NC State), and all three have been by double digits.

So, you know, what has been different about the team that had the doors blown off at Tennessee and the one that is now 3-0 in the ACC?

Akil Mitchell steps up: Mitchell has been a difference-maker of late, averaging 8.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game in the ACC after putting up just 5.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game in non-conference play.

Malcolm Brogdon steps up: Brogdon is averaging 12.7 points per game on 54 percent shooting from the field in the last three. Prior to ACC play, Brogdon had averaged 8.4 points per game on 37 percent shooting.

Improved play from London Perrantes: The freshman point guard is averaging 8.3 points and 4.3 assists in the winning streak. In non-conference play, Perrantes had averaged 3.1 points per game and 2.7 assists per game.

Mike Tobey in the starting lineup: Tobey had 10 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes off the bench in the ugly loss at Tennessee. Tobey hasn’t exactly lit it up since, going scoreless in 14 minutes in the 62-50 win at FSU, scoring six on 3-of-11 shooting in the 74-51 win over Wake Forest before breaking out for a team-high 16 points and seven rebounds in the 76-45 win over NC State. But it’s possible that his extra minutes have helped free up Mitchell.

Diminished role for Anthony Gill: The guy that Joe Harris said last year, when Gill had to redshirt after transferring from South Carolina, was the best player on the team in practice, has not shown that on a consistent basis this year, and his playing time has been limited with the rise of Tobey.

Fun facts: Virginia has averaged 70.7 points per game in the winning streak. The team had averaged 63.9 points per game in its first 13. … UVa. has not trailed in any of its three ACC games.

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Hosts Chris Graham and Crystal Graham of Augusta Free Press highlight local news and newsmakers with an emphasis on the Shenandoah Valley on Viewpoints on WVPT.

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Chris Graham is the editor of Augusta Free Press, ESPN3 baseball broadcaster and the author of five books. Crystal Graham is the award-winning former host of WVPT’s Virginia Tonight.

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